Jim Kearns has been working in the service industry for half his life, and has always had a passion for food, wine, and spirits. He started tending bar as a means to help pay for his education in photography at Pratt Institute seven years ago, when he moved to New York, and quickly discovered a fascination with the history, precision, and intricacy of cocktail bartending.
Jim began working behind the bar at Balthazar, shortly after moving to New York in 2002, where he worked for about two years before moving on to Dumont, a small neighborhood restaurant in Williamsburg. Over the year he worked there, Kearns began, in the tiny, now defunct back bar, to develop his interest in cocktails and how to pair them with food and wine as part of an overall experience for guests.
After working at Dumont, Kearns met and trained with Sasha Petraske for the opening of Double Seven, an upscale lounge/ club that specialized in hand-crafted cocktails. It was the experience of training with Petraske that truly changed the course of Kearns’ career, sparking an interest in classic cocktails and how to properly and consistently execute them.
It didn’t take long for Jim to discover that club life wasn’t for him, and that he wanted to focus on honing the skills he had acquired in a more serious, cocktail-focused environment. It was at this time that he went to work at the Pegu Club, where he would train with Audrey Saunders. It was here that he would further develop his repertoire of classic and modern cocktails, all the while executing them at intensely high volume.
Eventually, Kearns went to work at Freemans, where he was again able to work with cocktails and food at the same time. He left Pegu, enjoyed a brief stint at Death & Co. when it first opened, and stayed at Freemans for over two and a half years.
In Spring of 2009, Kearns returned to his cocktail roots and helped to open Mayahuel, where he continues to work and develop his knowledge of all things agave. He is currently working at Rye House as a bar consultant, bar manager, and bartender.
During his time as a bartender, Jim has worked next to and learned from some of the city’s finest bartenders, including Toby Maloney, Brian Miller, and Phil Ward, and has worked at a number of reputable New York bars. In addition to working behind the bar, Kearns does cocktail consulting as well, working with partner Lynnette Marrero to help further their shared interest in cocktails and their integration with food, wine, and the bar environment as part of a unique experience.