For a variety of reasons, the liquor industry is quite unique. But one thing that seems to stand out is the creation of a very specific job called: a spirits brand ambassador.
Many people probably aren’t aware that a job like this even existed or at least it’s not what they’d imagine. If you think being a brand ambassador refers to those scantily clad women passing out jello shots in nightclubs and bars, that couldn’t be further from the truth. These women are actually called “sampling models”. Brand ambassadors take on an entirely different multifaceted role.
They are the professional face of the brand, often times working to bridge the gap between the bartenders, consumers and the marketing executives. Their ultimate goal is not just to get consumers drunk, it’s to get them to choose one particular brand over another. One way to achieve this objective is to occasionally create cocktails on television, serve drinks, conduct tastings and training seminars, host events and fancy dinners, and sometimes even lead educational trips.
These experts are always working behind the scenes to ensure everything runs smoothly and spend a significant amount of time focusing on bar owners, managers and bartenders. In order to pursue this line of work you need to go out and make friends, get to know everyone you can. Generally, you have to pick the people/brands you admire and go and support them; attend their events and visit their bars. Being a bartender is entirely necessary in this line of work, especially considering that you need to be capable of catering to a wide demographic.
We were able to track down one well-known brand ambassador, Jacques Bezuidenhout, who serves as the representative for Partida Tequila, and he filled us in on his experience.
Can you tell us a little bit about your first bartending gig?
Jacques Bezuidenhout: I first started making & serving drinks at an Italian Pizzeria called Baccini’s in South Africa, although it was very casual and consisted of wine, beer and some G&T’s. My first bar job was in London at a Pub called the Minories. I first started making cocktails properly at a bar called the Avenue in London.
How did you become a bartender ambassador? What’s has the experience been like?
A friend of mine was working for Plymouth Gin at a time when I was working at a bar in SF called the Irish Bank. I was really into cocktails and when he asked me to be a San Francisco Plymouth Gin Ambassador. I loved the idea as I thought it was a great opportunity to learn as well as interact with bartenders around the city. Being a Brand Ambassador has been an amazing experience. It has helped me learn from great bartenders around the World. It has helped me share some of my knowledge with other bartenders. It has also awarded me with many wonderful experiences in some of the best bars in the world.
What are your inspirations when it comes to creating a new cocktail?
It really depends. Sometimes it comes from the spirit itself, sometimes from a new liqueur or fruit in season. Sometimes I get it from a meal from a great chef.
I love the spirit of tequila and that it has such a great sense of place. It really speaks of Mexico’s people, food and culture. On top of that it just has so many great flavors and nuances. It also does not have a class or money stigma. It makes everyone happy.
What are your passions outside of bartending?
I love music, basketball and food. I love to cook and enjoy wine.
Favorite cocktail to make/drink?
I love making my La Perla cocktail with Partida Reposado, Manzanilla Sherry and Pear Liqueur. Check out Jacques recipe for the perfect Honey Sour, made with Partida Tequila’s Reposado.
Partida is an authentic, all-natural, Tequila made from 100% blue agave. For years, Partida Tequila has been commended by numerous media outlets. It achieves a pure, clean taste, and has been recognized for excellence both served neat and in cocktails. Tequila Partida is available in four award-winning marques – Partida Blanco, Reposado, Añejo, and Elegante Extra Añejo, an ultra premium aged Tequila. Made from mature agave plants that are carefully tended and harvested by hand, each marque is simply exquisite.