Rising Star Mixologist Sam Ross - Biography

November 2011
Starting out in a high-volume café at the age of 15, Sam Ross quickly fell in love—in lust, you could say—with the operations of working a bar. After a short stint washing glasses and lugging cases of beer, Ross started on the espresso machine, and fondly remembers pumping out cafe lattes to a 200-seat café. After finishing school, he helped his mother and sister open their own cocktail bar in Melbourne, Australia, called Ginger in 2001. And it wasn’t long before cocktails were all he could think about. Ginger was very successful in Australia and was/is considered one of the front-runners for local cocktail culture. It was at Ginger that Ross worked with a number of influential people that he cites as mentors in his career: Sebastian Reaburn, Clinton Liebenberg, and Alex and Toby Ross, just to name a few. But in 2004, as all Australians tend to do, Ross took his show on the road for the bright lights of New York City. He started working with Sasha Petraske and was part of the opening bar team at both Little Branch and East Side Company Bar. It was through working with Petraske, and during the year he spent at Audrey Saunders’ Pegu Club, that Ross became tuned into the art form of the classic cocktail. Along with working at Milk & Honey (a post that earned him a 2008 Rising Stars Award), Ross installed the bar program at David Meyer's LA restaurants Comme Ca and Sona. He was nominated in 2008 for Tales of the Cocktail’s global “Bartender of the Year” and can honestly say that he just loves what he does for a living. Ross is a bartender’s bartender, and loves everything there is about the craft. But if he had to leave the industry, he’d become a hairdresser. He’s been cutting his own hair for years, and though he’s recently “tamed it down” (his words, not ours), it’s clear that his sense of style is as snazzy as his cocktails.