Junior Merino - The Liquid Chef
SHAKING UP THE WORLD OF SPIRITS, ONE MASTERFUL COCKTAIL AT A TIME
It is no surprise master mixologist Junior Merino has built his career on fusing exotic, unexpected flavors: He grew up in the culinary melting-pot of Central Mexico. Beginning when Junior was just 10, his food-loving parents taught him to cook with local produce ranging from indigenous cocoa beans, to pomegranates native to the Middle East, to cilantro, which has Mediterranean roots. Despite all these foods' varied origins, Junior saw that in combination, they created harmony-planting in him an early passion for culinary mestizaje-or blending diverse flavors. It's a technique that's helped Junior rise quickly in his field-along with his intense work ethic.
After immigrating to the United States at age 16, Junior rapidly progressed from busboy to bartender, and eventually to beverage manager at Roth's Westside Steakhouse in New York-all while attending high school and studying English and graphic design. At Roth's, the wine list Junior put together-his first ever-won an award of excellence from Wine Spectator. Within months, Junior was initiated into the Court of Master Sommeliers' Guild of Sommeliers. Experiments with creating his own cocktails while at Roth's spurred Junior to enter the International Bar Show's best cocktail competition in 2005-where he won first prize for his drink, "Coming Up Roses".
Since then, Junior has created signature cocktails for dozens of restaurants and bars across the world, including New York's Rayuela, Cafe Frida, 42 (located in the Ritz Carlton, White Plains, NY), Rix (located in Coronado Springs Resort, Walt Disney World, FL) and the Modern; Oprah Winfrey's The Color Purple show; Tokyo's ANA Hotel; and Mexico City's famed Izote restaurant, among many others. He has also created unique cocktails for numerous liquor companies, including Leblon Cachaça and G'vine Gin. Due to his well-known creativity, Junior has won a "Rising Star" award from Star Chefs and a special recognition from Mexico's government for his knowledge of Mexican ingredients. He was also named Imbiber.com's Bartender of the Month, and was one of five winners in the international Sherry Cocktail Competition.
Always eager to share his extensive knowledge of spirits and ingredients, Junior has been featured in Gourmet, Marie Claire, Time Out, Latina, the New York Times, Women's Wear Daily, and New York Magazine, among many others, and has appeared on BBC Radio and Televisa. He's currently working on a new show called "The Liquid Chef," and a book.
We encourage you to check out Juniors amazing website TheLiquidChef.com, and to join him here in our community.