Josh made the move from Wall Street to the spirits business about five years ago, working behind the bar, developing cocktail programs, including the great tequila and mezcal bar at Añejo and now represents the boutique craft spirits portfolio at Martin Scott, a New York-based distribution house. He lives in Long Island City, Queens, New York, with his wife Rachel and one year old son, AJ. (And we met when we all had first moved into Arris Lofts in LIC.)
Read below for Josh’s tip-sheet on best sources of info on the spirits industry (twitter leads the pack), best tech tools/sites to stay organized (Evernote, Uncrate) and hot spots opening up in LIC (especially keen to check out Hibino).
THREE FAVORITE SOURCES FOR WHAT’S NEW AND INFLUENTIAL
It took a while for me to curate my follower list, but now it’s my go-to source for everything that’s happening in the world. In my industry, I follow and engage with spirits writers, bartenders, restaurant owners, distillers, friends and enthusiasts and keep up on openings, cocktail trends, new products and developments. But from film to music, food and news, Twitter is where I find out about and share most info. You can follow me at @jrwortman.
2. My wife, Rachel Dodes Wortman
Rachel works for Twitter, is a former Wall Street Journal reporter having covered the film, fashion and retail industries, has a brilliant network of friends and colleagues and is an avid consumer of culture across the board with exceptional taste. She turned me on to Haruki Murakami, The Wire, Transparent, Serial and cleaning my desk.
There are a lot of “gear for guys” sites out there, but I keep coming back to Uncrate. I love browsing through their ridiculously broad range of categories and items. I don’t necessarily need to be well-informed on the latest $33 million yacht, but it is cool. But the mini-LED flashlight I discovered on Uncrate, I now use almost everyday.
THREE BRANDS/ SERVICES CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT
1. Evernote / Dropbox
While a ‘digital workplace’ is now ubiquitous, using the right cloud-based tool is critical. I use Dropbox to organize and store all my files and photos that I can share with family and coworkers and Evernote as a sort of digital file folder. From draft emails, to cocktail recipes, master projects, articles, documents that I’m collaborating with coworkers on, I usually have about a dozen notes in Evernote that I am using, updating and checking regularly from my laptop or smartphone (I’m an Apple guy btw). Also, their business card-to-contacts scanning function is the best I have ever used – so satisfying to go throughout that pile of business cards!
2. Amazon Prime
I became a Prime member through Amazon Mom, actually. When my son was born a year ago, I discovered Amazon Mom as way to get all the basics (diapers, wipes, formula) delivered regularly with really unrivaled discounts. Now I order almost everything through Amazon Prime, from Keurig Coffee, to my favorite merino wool socks, to the military bag I use to carry booze for work, and the excellent Bose headphones I use for calls and music.
3. Agave-based Distilled Spirits
Traditionally-made tequila, artisanal mezcals and other regional agave spirits (Sotol, Raicilla, Bacanora) are one of my passions in life. The history, people, culture, stories, traditions, production methods and flavors of these authentically handcrafted spirits are endlessly fascinating and rewarding to discover and rediscover. What brands? My advice would be to ask your bartender what is in the bottle, taste as many as you can, and for the adventurous, go to Mexico to discover for yourselves, the people and places behind them.
WHAT’S NEW IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD THAT WE SHOULD CHECK OUT
1. Otis & Finn Barbershop. 45-22 Pearson Street. Long Island City
Great haircut! I love this place. Owners Shawn & Kirk set up shop on this quiet side street a block away from Court Square. These guys cut hair in midtown before opening their own place and did a beautiful job with Otis & Finn. The people are moving to Long Island City and the people need haircuts. We could not have asked for a better barbershop. The fact that they also do straight razor shaves makes me reconsider the beard I have.
2. Kitchen Plus More, Housewares & Hardwares. 47-17 5th Street
Nails, paint, keys made, glassware, coffee pots, cookware, sippy cups…Kitchen Plus fills such an important hole in Long Island City. The owners did a spectacular job in creating what could have been a serviceable hardware store into a beautiful and browse-able addition to the neighborhood.
3. Hibino. 10-70 Jackson Avenue
Many excellent restaurants have sprung up in LIC over the past year and more are to open imminently, but I was thrilled when the owners of Hibino in Cobble Hill decided to choose Long Island City for their second location. They have been open barely over a year and this elegant, understated and traditional Japanese restaurant is a real gem. I love the daily Kyoto-style obanzai tapas and they have one of my favorite sakes, Narutotai Nama Genshu, an unpasteurized sake from Tokushima Prefecture.