For Amanda Blair, the transition from Wisconsin to Florida was more than a change in climate from snow days to beach days. It was a lifestyle change from a beer to a craft cocktail culture.
Blair, originally from Kenosha, a city on the shore of Lake Michigan, relocated to South Florida seven years ago, spring-boarding the fast-food restaurant experience she acquired as a teenager into a career in hospitality. “I wanted to get out of the cold and try something new,” she recalls.
Today, the 28-year-old manages and tends bar at Tacocraft Taqueria & Tequila in the Fort Lauderdale neighborhood of Victoria Park. Tacocraft specializes in modern Mexican cuisine and operates a collection of restaurants in the South Florida region. “I love the fast pace of bartending and the chance to create cocktails that are personalized to each guest,” she says.
Blair gained her first experience behind the bar at the Westin on Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort at the property’s pool deck rum bar, Waves Bar & Grill. Her eventual move to Tacocraft “really expanded my knowledge of tequila and craft cocktails,” she says. “In the beginning, it was a lot of trial and error figuring out the right proportions, techniques and the mix of ingredients to determine what flavors flow best.” A quick learner, she now helps train the bar staff and creates drink specials. Margaritas are her specialty. “To make a good cocktail, you have to put the time into it.”
The ex-Midwesterner has found her footing in Florida. She says she loves the diversity of her adopted home. “South Florida is a melting pot of people from all over the world, whether it’s my coworkers or the guests. The best part of bartending is getting to know people and having fun while I’m doing it.”
WHY BARFLY MIXOLOGY GEAR
“The first time I ever bartended, I used a Barfly shaker and said, ‘I don’t want to use anything else.’ They’re my go-to shakers. The right tools are so important for proportion, precision and for keeping drinks fresh and cold.”