Tales of the Cocktail Impact: Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants

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Mike Ryan had never heard of Tales of the Cocktail, but in 2009 a mentor of his suggested that he apply to the Cocktail Apprentice Program (CAP) program. He was 1 of 35 bartenders accepted into the program that year, all of which have risen to become leaders at the top of the industry since. After 6 years with Tales of the Cocktail, Mike is now a manager of the CAP program. His focus is to pass on the same experience he had to others who are in the program. Mike and his team are responsible for executing all events at Tales of the Cocktails.

  • 5 Days
  • 350,000 Cocktails


Mike utilizes Tales of the Cocktail for professional development in order to:

  • Develop expertise around bar management and logistics
  • Elevate his personal brand profile
  • Create lasting relationships and lifelong friends within the industry


Professional Development:

  • Mike touts Tales of the Cocktail as being the “premier educational event in the world for bartenders.” He has been able to elevate his skillset through managing the CAP program, which is what he describes as “the best logistical training a bartender can go through.”
  • Mike’s focus on his professional development lead him to be honored as Chicago Magazine’s Best New Bartender in 2011.

Career Opportunities:

  • During his first Tales of the Cocktail in 2009, Mike met Jacques Bezuidenhout – a brand ambassador for Partida Tequila. Months later, Jacques came into Mike’s bar in Chicago with Avi Rathnakumar – then General Manager of the forthcoming Sable Kitchen and Bar. The trio hit it off and the rest, as they say, is history. Mike went on to be head bartender at Stable – one of the most successful hotel bars in the country, earning awards including:

§ 100 Best Bars in Chicago – The 12 Best Cocktail Spots; Chicago Magazine (December 2013)

§ The Best Bars in America; Esquire Magazine (June 2015)

§ #2 Best Hotel Bar; USA Today, 10Best Readers Choice (August 2015)

  • Mike’s success has led to a new job – Mike recently stepped down from his position as head bartender at Sable and began a new role as National Manager of Bar Education for Kimpton Hotels, Restaurants and Bars.


“Working in the back of the house at Tales, we see everything as CAPs. From brands that are launching to those that are jockeying for position in the market – it is a tremendous opportunity for brands to get their message out to the leaders of the industry.”

“Getting to work at Tales with people from all different cities and countries allows me to walk into just about any city in the United States or the world and know at least one person there that is willing and able to be my host. If not, the most I am is one degree of separation away.”

“Everything that has happened to me in my career recently is a direct result of having attended Tales of the Cocktail. Tales has been a fundamentally powerful experience for me.”

-Mike Ryan, National Manager of Bar Education at Kimpton Hotels, Restaurants and Bars