Naturally the craft of bartending was taught to him over time and usually on the fly. Given he landed his first restaurant gig by age 15, he spent roughly half of his life in the industry, thoroughly enjoying every step along the way.
“I’ve found myself in a variety of environments over the years but always felt most in my element working a dinner service, rather than a morning brunch or late-night bar shift. I’ve been lucky enough to bartend in towns like Charleston, Boulder, and now Asheville. That’s one great part about this industry: you can work in any city you want if you hustle,” Stewart adds.
His current position overseeing the bar operations at Jettie Rae’s in Asheville, NC is a direct result of his unbreakable hustler mentality.
The piece of history that is now Jettie Rae’s was once Gulf Gas Station first opened by “Steamer” Edmonds roughly 70 years ago. This fixture of North Asheville was renovated by Owner Eric Scheffer, a man who realized the need for a spot where locals could enjoy fresh seafood and oysters.
“I created Jettie Rae’s to serve seafood inspired by Gullah Geechee, French, Native American and Spanish culinary traditions. We honor sustainability, we’re conscious of our source and we support the families and individuals who make their living from our coastal waters. With Chef Will Cisa leading the kitchen, I feel we’ve created something special, bringing together the best people with the best product,” said Scheffer.
As for the Beverage Program at Jettie Rae’s, Stewart’s top priority is forming a harmonious relationship between the food and drink selections. Some drinks complement the food with fresh ingredients, and some drinks embrace bolder profiles and could be enjoyed alone in a prohibition-era cocktail bar. Some examples of the pairings include bright, acidic drinks to match with ceviche and fresh fish, perfectly made Dirty Martinis served with raw oysters or a strong, complex nightcap after a guest’s meal.
The well-versed bar manager offered some helpful words of advice to those who are trying to take a path like his. “My advice for bartenders looking to advance in the industry today is to take any opportunity you’re given to learn. Even if it doesn’t translate to more money right away, the skills you’ll gain will make you more valuable in the long run. Never let a workplace take advantage of you, but if you’re offered more responsibility that comes with a learning opportunity, absolutely accept the challenge.”
The Leaf Peeper
- 1 1/2 oz Havana Club Blanco Rum
- 1/2 oz Pear-Cardamom Syrup
- 3/4 oz Local Apple Cider
- 1/4 oz Eda Rhyne Amaro Flora
- 3 dashes Crude Fall Spice Bitters: cherry, clove, cinnamon
- Dried apple slice for garnish
Preparation: Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into coupe glass and garnish with a dried apple slice.
- 1 oz Laird & Company Bonded Apple Brandy
- 1 oz Rye Whiskey
- 1 oz Carpano Antica
- 1/2 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
- Rinse of Pernod
- Peychaud’s Bitters
- Luxardo Maraschino cherries for garnish
Preparation: Pour a splash of Pernod into a rocks glass, swirl to fully coat the inside glass and discard excess liquid. In a cocktail shaker, combine all remaining ingredients with ice and shake well. Strain mixture into glass over a large ice cube and garnish with a maraschino cherry.