2021 Chicago Rising Star Bartender Eric Simmons of What If Syndicate

2021 Chicago Rising Star Bartender Eric Simmons of What If Syndicate

What If Syndicate
11 W Illinois St., Suite 400
Chicago, IL 60654
whatifsyndicate.com

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Born and raised in Memphis, Eric Simmons learned the craft of hospitality from working in his family restaurant business, Wrapzody Gourmet Wrapz. He fell into his first bartending gig at a Buffalo Wild Wings in Nashville before moving around to Music City Tippler, Pinewood Social, Amari, and Sinema Nashville. But on an inspiring trip to Chicago, Simmons realized that he was surrounded by talented hospitality professionals of color from so many different cultures and backgrounds.

A permanent move to Chicago brought him to What If Syndicate’s Maple & Ash as a head bartender, along with Mario Flores. Although the cocktail program blew his mind, he saw room for growth and the opportunity to make the modern steakhouse a cocktail destination. By changing the drink presentation and flavors, Simmons built a steady following, and he’s able to promote his message that there are great opportunities for Black bar professionals in the industry. As bar director, Simmons now runs What If Syndicate’s four beverage programs: Maple & Ash in Chicago and Scottsdale; etta in Bucktown, River North, and Culver City; and Monarch and Kessaku in Dallas. His growth within the group and in the community helped Simmons be recognized by PUNCH as one of the bartenders in residence for the class of 2021.