Headshots: Shaun Traxler, Bar Chef
Every time I leave Denver to visit home, I reach out to Shaun Traxler, arguably one of the best bartenders in Arkansas. I know a LOT of bartenders, and they are all seasoned and capable men and women. Each have their talents. There's flair, memory, demeanor, experience and expertise (which are not necessarily the same thing). However, Shaun takes his work a few steps further. In fact, he doesn't mind being called a bartender, but the more accurate description is Bar Chef.
It's easy to see why. Specializing in what he calls craft cocktails, there's often a complexity in his creations. Each drink involves a primary flavor that, combined with compatible notes, deliver a finish that is not unlike a satisfying gourmet meal. Trust me on this-- I personally taste-test many of these drinks because it's very important to research your subject. A subject which happens to be freakin' delicious. Nom nom nom.
Another reason I love working with Shaun is because he is always willing to experiment. We use strobes to freeze-frame citrus zest, smoke guns to draw the eye, and get close. Really close, to show the attention to detail on his unique garnishes. One of my favorites is the Saffron Swanson, a saffron-infused drink that oozes with masculinity. It feels wrong to say that, but I'm struggling to phrase it appropriately, so I'm just going to roll with it. And that's another reason I love working with Shaun. We often talk about "getting weird" and "partying" when we do our shoots because that's kind of what happens when we feed off one another's creativity. We thrive on that excitement and I think it shows in the images.
As a special bonus Pineapple Expression (the smoky drink) is available from American Juice Company as their specialty valentines box. Since Shaun is the creator, you can get 5% off your first box by using the promo code SHAUN5 .
Make sure you scroll further down to see a couple of behind-the-scenes images! Also, if you're a Bar Chef, food chef, or whatever-chef like Shaun living and working in Denver, give me a shout. I'm always looking for new projects to collaborate on. If you're in Northwest arkansas, be sure to head over to Sideways on Dickson street in Fayetteville. Tell them Wes Ryan sent cha. Happy sipping!