Ben Potts, Spirits Practitioner & Ice Enthusiast, Blackbird Ordinary
First and foremost, Ben Potts considers himself a bartender. He is also a connoisseur of fine spirits, cocktails, and pretty much anything you can drink. He’s a Miami native with an undergraduate degree from Tulane University and an MBA from the University of Miami with professional experience in investment banking, hospitality management, and staffing. When he’s not learning and practicing my craft, he’s going to CrossFit and learning about technology.
Ben believes that you can do anything if you make your bed every day. Well, he must have done just that back in April when his Oracion Del Sur cocktail took home the grand prize at the ShakeStir Miami Flash Cocktail Competition. Organized by ShakeStir, a premier bartender community network, the Flash Cocktail competition invites bartenders to create their best drink in 24 hours featuring a specific spirit, in this case G’vine Floraison Gin. Named the winner by a select team of world-renowned mixologists, Ben’s cocktail was inspired by the classic Vesper. He subbed the G’vine Floraison Gin for the standard London Dry, and used Kappa Pisco instead of Vodka. He also swapped out Kina Lillet for Cocchi Americano Bianco and added a few dashes of lemon bitters to bring out the citrus and the floral notes. Check him out at Blackbird Ordinary to see if he’ll whip one up for you!
When did you know you wanted to be a bartender/mixologist?
The minute I got behind a bar for the first time I knew that was where I wanted to be. It felt right. From there I decided I was going to learn as much as I could as quickly as I could so I could serve people the way I wanted to.
You have an MBA and have dabbled in investment banking and hospitality management. What prompted you to change course and turn to bartending?
I certainly enjoyed some elements of investment banking. Determining the appropriate corporate finance strategy for a company, identifying the right partners, but I was sick of the office life. I knew I wanted to be around people, so when a friend offered me a bar back position at my local bar, Purdy Lounge, I took it.
What is your all time favorite cocktail to prepare? To drink?
I really enjoy preparing stirred cocktails. At the moment, I’m really enjoying Boulevardiers – both to prepare and to drink. It’s a beautiful cocktail and almost anyone watching me making one wants one.
What are your favorite and least favorite drink trends right now?
I really enjoy how everyone is moving to fresh ingredients, better techniques, and a general improvement of the craft of bartending, but I think some bartenders lose sight of the fact that we’re in this business to serve the guest and in some cases it seems it’s becoming secondary.
If you had to pick one spirit to best describe yourself, what would it be?
The spirit that best describes me is probably rum. We’re both from the tropics, people seem to like us, and we’re easy to deal with.
What’s the most creative drink you’ve ever prepared?
Probably my Campari Sour. The interaction between the Campari and the egg white makes a really thick foam and in the right glass you can get the foam to come up almost an inch over the rim of the glass.
You’ve called yourself an “Ice Enthusiast.” What does that mean, and why is good ice so important to a good cocktail?
Ice is an extremely important ingredient and water from ice can account for up to 25% of the total volume of the cocktail. It’s important to use high quality ice both in preparation and in the service of the cocktail.
What’s your go-to hangover remedy?
When I wake up in the morning, I take three to four Advil, drink about a liter of water, then go back to sleep for an hour. When I wake up for the second time, I drink about a half liter of cold-brew coffee and go for a slow, but steady two-mile jog. I’m totally fine after that.
Other than your own, what’s your favorite bar in Miami right now?
If I had to pick one, it would be The Broken Shaker. Besides having some of the best cocktails in Miami, the staff, setting, and atmosphere is fantastic.
What is your favorite thing about living in Miami?
The weather and the opportunities here are the best. You really can’t find that combination anywhere else in the world.
Mitch & Mel