Rising Star Mixologist Jason Kosmas of Employees Only - Biography
New York, NY
Needing money to pay for art school, 2005 StarChefs.com Rising Star Mixologist Jason Kosmas found work at The Old Bay in New Brunswick, NJ. At the time considered the largest “small blues house” on the North East Coast, the Old Bay served up Cajun cuisine with Creole cocktails. "I was hired originally as a bar back. The bartenders were mostly grad students working their way through college. They would have me make all the drinks so they could study.”
Kosmas quickly became a bartender just as the vodka scene broke open. The martini was on the rise, and Kosmas became more and more an enthusiast of the cocktail. Realizing that craft mixology was lost in a college town, Kosmas followed his passion for mixing to Manhattan in 1998. He was first hired at the Tavern on the Green in Central Park where he disciplined himself in the subtle art of classic cocktails. He next moved on to work at one of New York's most innovative cocktail bars, Pravda located on the edge of Soho. The trendy cocktail lounge was the perfect compliment for Kosmas's classic approach toward mixology. He combined traditional technique with exotic ingredients to shape a new path in cocktail making.
In October of 1999 he received 1st Place in the Independent Cocktail Awards sponsored by Food and Wine Magazine. After two years in the trenches, he was promoted to Bar Manager at Pravda. Kosmas molded his position to that of a "cocktail chef." He researched ingredients that were previously foreign to the bar and incorporated them into Pravda's cocktail menu. In July 2001 Pravda was recognized by Time Out New York as the "Best Martini Bar" in New York City. Even while Kosmas managed Pravda, he still worked regularly behind the bar.
"I enjoy mixing cocktails. It is ever changing and exciting. You must keep your finger on the pulse to stay ahead of what's going on.” After 3½ years, Kosmas retired from managing to form Cocktail Conceptions, a beverage consulting company that has worked with restaurants such as Schiller’s Liquor Bar and companies such as Absolute Vodka.
In late 2004, Jason became principle bartender and co-owner of Employees Only, a retro-classic speakeasy in the West Village specializing in deftly mixed cocktails with old-school flair. He is also a partner in Macao Trading Co. but currently works in Dallas's Marquee Grill & Bar as Beverage Director.