If a man is the sum of his travels, then 2012 New Orleans Rising Star Mixologist James Ives is sophisticated and far-ranging. Although he's now happily ensconced in the mixology program at New Orleans' Cure, which he runs with several other top local bartenders, Ives has worked every position in the restaurant business. (It's not as surprising when you consider that he got an early start; Ives' got his first industry job at just 14 years old.)
Presumably Ives wasn't handling any spirits in his teen years, but he did begin bartending when he was legally eligible, slinging drinks throughout college to make the requisite academia pocket change, and then some. After graduation, Ives spent a pivotal year in Europe, mostly in Austria and Romania, where he fell deeply into (and in love with) the well of European drinking culture.
We might have temporarily lost him to the romance of intoxication on foreign shores, but Ives returned stateside, bringing with him a deep-seated thirst for something special. In a stroke of creative luck, Ives moved to Atlanta just as the Southern cocktail resurgence was getting underway, allowing him to flex his relatively untested muscles. Ives spent a summer in San Francisco, where, like many before him, he was "both influenced and amazed;" 2009 saw him transforming the bar program at Atlanta's 4th & Swift, creating seasonal cocktail menus with an orientation toward the classics. But these days, Ives splits his time between Cure and cobbler-focused Bellocq—still traveling, but thankfully a much shorter distance.