Where does one of Pittsburgh’s beverage gurus go when he wants to enjoy a nightcap? Keep up with the award-winning beverage consultant Spencer Warren—who opened Embury, Pittsburgh’s first craft cocktail bar, in 2008—as he works on three exciting new restaurants debuting this month, dishes on his favorite brunch and kayaking spots, and shares plans for his soon-to-be-announced cocktail pop-up. The Mt. Lebanon native—who currently lives in Beechview—recently worked on the James Beard nominated cocktail program at Butcher and The Rye, as well as with Firehouse Lounge, Round Corner Cantina, täkō and Meat & Potatoes.
Monday, September 26
I start my morning bright and early (for a bartender) at 9 a.m. I will be training all the bartenders and servers at Pirata, which opens October 10th in Market Square. And then I’m meeting with my Palm Bay Spirits rep for coffee at Espresso a Mano to figure out details for the Pittsburgh Whiskey & Fine Spirits Festival on October 28 and the Day of the Dead Bar Crawl in Lawrenceville with with Chamucos Tequila and Los Amantes Mezcal on November 1.
Tuesday, September 27
I will train the Pirata staff and test cocktails—it’s a rough job. I do for a living what most people do for fun. I also have to meet the Red Bull rep in the South Side, to help create cocktails for Red Bull.
After work, it’s kayaking at Venture Outdoors’ Pittsburgh Kayak downtown. I’ll grab a cocktail at Grapperia and Round Corner Cantina, and then head to The Goldmark for their DJ night and a boilermaker.
Wednesday, September 28
After leading a training in the morning, I’ll grab lunch with a wine rep downtown at Sienna On The Square.
On Wednesday afternoon, I will be walking around downtown Pittsburgh most of the afternoon scouting locations for the Cocktail Kingdom Miracle Pop-up (hint: stay tuned for the location for this new pop-up concept, which will be open to the public from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve).
Thursday, September 29
I will meet with Tres Rios to plan out their new cocktail menu and choose equipment and glassware for their bar, which will be opening in mid-October on Carson Street.
I’ll hit up the Farmers Market in Market Square, before doing a beer tasting and class for the Pirata staff in the afternoon.
Every Thursday I drive to Mt. Lebanon and go to Il Pizzaiolo to get the fresh Burrata that is flown in from Italy. If I can’t make it Thursday night, it’s my Friday lunch.
Thursday night I am going to see comedian Hannibal Buress at The Byham Theater.
Friday, September 30
I am meeting with Casellula@Alphabet City (opening on the Northside in late October) and putting together their cocktail menu.
Then I’ll meet with Greta Harper, who’s running for president of the local United States Bartenders’ Guild. We will figure out a few charity fundraising events, as well as ways to help promote bartenders being active and living healthy—such as jokes, yoga, palates, snow tubing, skiing . . . etc.
I will actually go home and read a book and plan out my next week. It will give me time to relax. I will also test cocktails in my kitchen; I always need critiques, so some people will stop by and test cocktails.
Saturday, October 1
I’m driving to NYC to check out different Caribbean restaurants to help bring back ideas for new cocktails and techniques. I’ll check out the newest place, BlackTail. While in NYC, I will also go to Casellula to taste their food to help me create cocktails for the new Pittsburgh location.
After the game it’s off to the “We Got Hitched Pignic,” a bartenders’ event celebrating two of the bartenders who recently got married. I’ll grab a Clarified Milk Punch at The Allegheny Wine Mixer to end my night.