It’s a heady title, for sure: 2013 Bartender of the Year.
By JILL WENDHOLT SILVA
The Kansas City Star
“It doesn’t change a thing. You just have to keep focusing on what you do every day,” says Ryan Maybee, who recently received the honor from Imbibe, a leader in covering the artisanal beverage beat.
Maybee learned the basics at Pierpont’s in Union Station and opened the now closed JP Winebar, but he really came into his own with his speakeasy-style basement bar Manifesto in 2009, featuring craft cocktails made from fresh and house-made ingredients, including infused liquors, tonics, shrubs and his signature smoked bitters.
“I was really nervous about people not getting it,” he recalls.
He needn’t have worried. His skills are certifiable. He is the only person with the BAR masters certification, similar to a master sommelier, through the mixology industry’s Beverage Alcohol Resource, and his awards are numerous (one of his recipes appears in the 75th anniversary edition of “Mr. Boston Official Bartender’s Guide”).
Maybee is readying his smoked bitters recipe for commercial distribution under the name J. Rieger & Co. Cocktail enthusiasts who can’t wait can get a taste by ordering the Kansas City Sling, a combination of Dark Horse Distillery Reunion Rye, Averna and smoked bitters, at Manifesto and the Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange. The $10 cocktail was created for this special issue.
Maybee understands not every bartender can go to the same lengths he does, but that doesn’t mean they can’t join the craft cocktail movement. “Every place can squeeze their own lemon and lime juices,” he says.