Mixologist Dale DeGroff of KingCocktail.com - Biography

New York, NY

August 2010

Where would cocktailians be without Dale DeGroff? Slinging artificial sour mixes in badly made cocktails, no doubt.

He’s called King Cocktail for a reason. A founding father of modern mixology, DeGroff is credited with reviving and reinventing the profession of mixology and pioneering a gourmet approach to recreating the great classic cocktails. DeGroff began his bartending career in Manhattan in 1975. His training was by no means formal and during a time when cocktail culture in the US was at an all time low. DeGroff mastered the art of using soda guns and sweet and sour mixes to make decent drinks, but it wasn’t until he got his hands on a copy of Jerry Thomas’s book The Bon Vivant’s Companionand other old cocktail books that he started reconstructing and tinkering with the methods of the classic era.

He worked as a bartender at parties at the Gracie Mansion and at the Hotel Bel Air in Los Angeles before hooking up with well-known restaurateur Joseph Baum in 1985. Back in New York City, DeGroff was behind the bar at Aurora Restaurant first and then at The Rainbow Room where Baum wanted a classic bar program using fresh ingredients; DeGroff delivered in spades. He developed a bar program with drinks that had not appeared on any menu since the 1930s and a seasonally changing component as well. His bottles of sweet and sour were happily cast asunder, replaced with freshly squeezed juices, fresh fruit, and house-made syrups. DeGroff’s revival bar menu caught the attention of the media, and dozens of ambitious and curious bartenders, creating a cocktail renaissance that would soon spread around the world, and change the future of the American cocktail.

DeGroff is the author of two award-winning books, The Essential Cocktail and The Craft of the Cocktail. He has received many awards including the 2009 James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine & Spirits Professional, the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award from Nightclub & Bar Magazine, 2008 Tales of the Cocktail Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award, and the 2007 Cheers Beverage Industry Innovator of the Year.

DeGroff is a partner in the bar training program Beverage Alcohol Resource (BAR), a partnership of six of the world's leading spirits and cocktails authorities who provide training and credentialing in distilled spirits and mixology. He also provides consulting and staff training to world renowned hotels and restaurants around the world. DeGroff is the founding president of The Museum of the American Cocktail in New Orleans, the first museum of its kind.