February 10, 2020
Food & Beverage

Bartending for Events With Alexi Fisher

Alexi Fisher is the owner of both The Hammered Copper mobile bartending service and The Cocktail Collective, a cocktail and spirits education facility. We had the pleasure to sit down with her and talk about how she broke into the events industry through bartending! 

FATFISH: What drew you to bartending as a part time job in college? 

ALEXI: When I was in college, I was working as a bridal consultant for David's Bridal and I had just happened to overhear a conversation between a wedding planner and her staff about how she was just frustrated that she had lost a bartender for an upcoming wedding. I basically was like, I volunteered as tribute! I was 18 at the time, she didn't ask questions, and I didn't offer proof. That was actually one of my first events I ever bartended. It was very simple, basically two part cocktails like a vodka, vodka soda, very simple stuff and I just kind of got me into a whole different side of the event industry and I figured that I really liked mixing drinks.

FATFISH: Is it true you didn’t drink alcohol in the first few years of your career? 

ALEXI: Yeah, from 18- 23 I was a member of the LDS church, and I didn't drink. So I mean, I was bartending that entire time from 18-23 and I hadn't actually tasted any of the drinks I was making, or was drinking alcohol because of course, you know, it's forbidden. So I had no idea if the drinks that I were making were actually good. By the time I was leaving the church, I was just kind of opening up my world, but at the same time doing it at my own pace. So I made sure that I wasn't just throwing myself to the wolves, I was still being true to myself in my comfort zones

FATFISH: When was the first time you tasted one of your own drinks? 

ALEXI: I don't remember the first time I tasted one of my own drinks. I don't think it was pivotal enough for me to be like, this is a core memory for the rest of my life. But I can tell you the first time I tasted one of my good drinks, which makes me believe that people were lying to me for quite some time. It was actually my old fashioned, I had wanted to perfect the classic of all classic cocktails that most people order. I mean granted it is a very simple cocktail to make but it is also very easy to mess it up. And the first time I ever tasted it, I and I liked it, it was one of those moments where I'm like, Okay, I might actually be good at this. When I first tasted my own drinks, they were good. I was kind of thinking to myself was I making crap this entire time? But I was also really proud of myself because I felt like I had picked up the skill pretty quickly. I think I figured out pretty pretty quickly that I was good at being able to deliver to the palate that people wanted. It was difficult at first but at the same time I realized that I enjoyed it, it was the thing that made me happy.

FATFISH: What made you want to start a mobile bartending service? 

ALEXI: The reason why I wanted to start a mobile bartending service actually goes back to when I was working for the profit side of a nonprofit, large mental health corporation here in Utah. It was such a bad experience that it nearly cost me my life. I was in such a dark place. My then boyfriend and now husband was out on out on the line, fighting wildfires and I remember calling him and crying to him, “I’m so unhappy, I don't know what to do. I feel like I just keep getting in these positions where I have a job, I'm working my butt off, and then nothing I ever do is appreciated.” And he was the one who actually suggested to me that I get back into bartending. I had done some freelance work before, but I had never done it so much in a way where I was essentially promoting myself. So I started doing that, I gave it a name and the name was inspired by these two hammered copper cups that we picked up at the DI and I mean, that's kind of where it started. But it was a catharsis for my need for creativity but also just suffering through several sexual assault incidences and a very depressive state, I had to figure out what made me happy.

FATFISH: What is it like to be a women in a male dominated industry? 

ALEXI: Well, I mean, there is something incredibly empowering about not only being a woman, which is inherently difficult, because we live in a society that makes it very difficult, but add on top of that this extra layer of like, okay, you are creative and you're ambitious and you're driven and you're determined, and you're good at a thing that is basically a male dominated industry, and you want to make a career out of it. Like, okay, you're asking for too much, basically. And so I essentially, I said fuck that and I forged forward. I got beaten back several times, this industry has not been kind to me or people who look like me, but it is because I kept forging and because I never wavered on my confidence in my ability. I've won awards for my cocktails, I actually ended up winning an award for my old fashion! And it took some time to not feel like I was an imposter. But yeah, I'm here, I have an entire business! I wake up every day and I'm just like, crap, this is what I get to do for a living. This is what I get to do for the rest of my life! I'm incredibly happy.

FATFISH: What’s your favorite part about working events? 

ALEXI: I would say my favorite part about working events has to be watching people enjoy what I make, whether it's a craft cocktail that I'm batching, or if it's a classic cocktail that I'm making a one off of, I thoroughly enjoy watching people enjoy an event, and having a great drink at the same time. I feel like that is what I think heaven will be like!  I really love to see that pure unadulterated, kind of unexpected joy. And the fact that I get to be a part of those moments, is what keeps me doing what I do. I'm glad that I'm on this side of it and not event planning or bridal anymore. I'm on the more fun side of it! I also think that this is my theology about spirits in general as they're meant to be shared. I understand that people are collectors. I'm a collector myself, I have many whiskies and scotches in my cabinets at home, and I love to save them for special moments, but spirits are meant to be shared. And if they can be shared amongst friends and family that's even better

FATFISH: How would you say spirits and cocktails elevate an event? 

ALEXI: I think spirits in particular can really elevate an event based on kind of, I think education. Understanding what's actually in your drink, I think gives you a greater appreciation of the spirit itself. Now, the cocktail I think just adds a little bit of exclusivity to an event. That's what I kind of love about doing craft cocktails for events. I love creating signature drinks for weddings or corporate events or for a class I'm even teaching here. I love doing that mainly because I get to teach them all the many layers that go into it. I had an opportunity to participate in the Black Manhattan competition. My entrance cocktail was the Lenape and the cocktail included whiskey and orgeat and lemon and several other ingredients but all those ingredients were just ingredients. What really inspired me was that it was actually the fact that a lot of these ingredients specifically could be found on the East Coast in an area that was native to the Lenape tribe, a tribe that was specifically known for having beautiful dark skin and is unfortunately a history that we've completely lost to due to colonization. But I mean, things like that inspired my cocktail! So being able to kind of add a history and detail and beauty behind it, I think is what gives it a little bit of exclusivity and makes it a little bit makes an event itself more elevated.  

FATFISH: Can you recall the moment that you realized you wanted to take mixing serious, and could see it as your career? 

ALEXI: Did I ever think of doing this as a career? No. Short answer, no. I studied neuroscience at Westminster and clinical psychology at the U and I have two bachelor’s. I think I use neither of them but people constantly tell me it's like you're like a bartending therapist and like, I hate that because I don't get paid like a therapist. But I did not intend for this to be my career at all. When I first started, I actually intended on entering into the neonatal

field, I wanted to become a neonatal oncologist, I was a triple major at Westminster. And I then had a series of mental health events that caused me to reevaluate everything in my life. Again, even when I graduated from the U, I did not think this would be my career. I will say, and I regret doing this, I looked down on the older bartenders that I was working alongside. They were fantastic men and women but I didn't understand how you could work in a bar for 10, 15, or 20 years! That made no sense to me. I thought do you have no ambition? Little did I realize that that wasn't always the case. I just didn't know enough about that person in general. So  when I got to the point of deciding that I wanted to go back into freelance bartending was the moment that I realized I'm like, Okay, this is this might be my calling, the creativity that I've always tried to include into what I do when I worked for somebody else that was constantly being rejected, I got to just interject, no one got to tell me like, Hey, you're doing this wrong, I had to figure that out for myself, I was my own boss. And the moment that I really gave it a name, and I really put my full energy into it was the moment that I realized, this is the thing I want to do for the rest of my life. This is the thing that we all are searching for. And I found it.

FATFISH: Anything else you want to say about The cocktail Collective? 

ALEXI:  I wanted to create a space that people could come and learn about different cocktails and spirits. I've always said that I believe when you understand a little bit more about what is actually in your drink, you have an appreciation for that spirit. My specialty and my background is in whiskey. I have several certifications from Dr. Sheila's whiskey Academy. I also am a master as Scotch educator, scotch whisky educator and Agent educator through the Edinburgh whisky Academy. So I have devoted my time and my money and my focus to learning more about this because I realized there's always more to learn. I wanted again to create a space where people could come and do it comfortably. The bar can be very intimidating. It can be a very, like, nervous place to go up and you're like, oh, I don't know what I want off the menu or what can you make if you ask the bartender like, what would you recommend the bar doesn't have bartender doesn't have time for that the mixologist doesn't have time for that if they do, bless them. I wanted to create a space where people could be educated before they went to the bar or become better at home bartenders teaching them about the skill, the technique, what goes with what understanding the many, many, many different flavor profiles that exist and how you can create your own new thing that's never been created before. I also wanted to provide a space of understanding different spirits. There's an amazing history that has been essentially erased due to retelling improper retellings or lack thereof of specifically about like whiskey or vodka or gin and not understanding that a lot of those those spirits were built off the backs of slaves. And I want to re educate people and under Help them understand that these spirits while beautiful, do have a history that does absolutely need to get recognized. And so I created the cocktail collective as a fun event space but also an educational space to be able to provide it all. 

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