Shel Bourdon is the National Director of Bars for Two Roads
Hospitality, which includes Joie de Vivre Hotels & Resorts, Thompson Hotels and Chicago Athletic Association
BEVERAGE MEDIA GROUP: How do you think Two Roads has helped redefine the notion of a hotel bar?
SHEL BOURDON: My hope is that we are elevating the standard of a hotel bar. By focusing equally on concept, design, storytelling and education, we are working to earn the trust of both hotel guests and the local community to show them how our bars are thoughtful and service-driven.
BMG: Describe one of the beverage programs that is pushing that vision forward.
SB: I really love what Matt Martelli and Josh Haddock are doing at the Nest. It’s our rooftop at the Thompson Seattle, and it is packed from the moment it opens until last call. The service and quality of the cocktails are on par with some of the most prestigious bars in the country, all while they are four deep at the bar. It’s really impressive.
BMG: With numerous hotel brands, how does Two Roads promote consistency in its staff training?
SB: Day one, we start with 30 classic cocktails every bartender should know, to get everyone on the same page so that every guest is receiving the same recipe for an Old Fashioned and Margarita. Collaboration is key in this process, as everyone is contributing and committed to a streamlined set of house classics. They vary slightly at each hotel, depending on the region and local trends.
BMG: A number of venues in Two Roads properties keep garnering buzz, including Topside at Joie de Vivre’s Hotel Revival in Baltimore, Cindy’s at the Chicago Athletic Association and the Bar at Joie de Vivre’s Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco. What’s exciting ahead?
SB: I am currently with our team at Laureate, our newest bar at Joie de Vivre’s Laurel Inn in San Francisco. The commitment to supporting local has helped us drive excitement from the neighborhood. Every cocktail on the menu has an element of the Bay Area as an ingredient, which has helped the community understand that we are here for them. ■