Rising Star Mixologist Tyler Fry of The Violet Hour - Biography

Chicago, IL

May 2015

Tea time and happy hour are only separated by a few hours, but culturally they’re light years apart (as in no amount of Lapsang Souchong will require a designated driver). However, for Tyler Fry, the world of tea ended up becoming a kind of inadvertent gateway to tending bar.

After years of Japanese study, and his first exposure to real tea abroad, Fry became a tea specialist, working for years in the tea industry in Omaha, Nebraska before he ever got behind a bar. A fateful earthquake and tsunami were the only things that kept him from returning to Japan for further tea study. What got him thinking about cocktails was a tea cocktail tasting in a small Omaha tea house. Unlike most people, Fry was actually there for the tea. Since he’d also always been intrigued by the art of the cocktail, the tea-to-cocktail transition happened fairly rapidly, and naturally.

Before the age of 21, Fry was amateur-ly mixing cocktails in his parents’ basement (with less than choice product). That eventually gave way to his first bar program in Omaha, and a move to Chicago for his current gig at Violet Hour under industry veteran Toby Maloney—whose recipes the self-described cocktail geek, Fry, had already thoroughly studied. While his professional future will no doubt contain more tea than most, Fry is decidedly, and expertly, a bartender, mixing with the delicate sensibility of someone who appreciates the long steep of tradition. In 2015, Fry earned a StarChefs Rising Star Bartender Award for his work at Violet Hour.