Justin Gordon is an actor, stage director, founder of Sierra Mixology and the beverage director at Boozehounds, which recently opened its doors in Palm Springs. “I’m a cocktail consultant who builds bar programs focusing on elevated craft cocktails using house-made ingredients that are either foraged or procured from independent vendors.” Learn about Justin Gordon…
Hometown: Posey, CA, in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains.
First job: I grew up in a very rural area, so jobs were hard to come by. When I was 12, I got a job chopping wood in the fall for the neighborhood homeowners–I made about $20 a weekend–not bad when you’re that young and have nowhere to really spend it!
Favorite ways to spend your free time in CA: In addition to being a food and beverage enthusiast, I’m an avid hiker, backpacker and climber. I love that in California, you can climb a mountain, hit the beach, go to a wine tasting, have a cookout or dine in a fantastic local restaurant all in the span of a weekend.
Your biggest accomplishment and why: Life has so many twists and turns, it’s hard to pinpoint any one moment. I recently turned 42, and I have a lot of life I hope to live. The best is yet to come–I truly believe that.
The biggest obstacle you overcame: Getting out of my own way and realizing that passions don’t have to be binary. In addition to my cocktail work, I’m an actor and stage director by training and trade (it dominated my life for much of the last decade). I have thrived in both the arts and food and beverage, yet never thought they could really work together. It took the pandemic (and all the forced downtime and reflection that came with it) to gain the perspective that I absolutely can work in multiple creative forms–that my passions can be synchronous. That realization was truly life-giving.
Someone who inspires you and why: Anthony Bourdain, rest his soul. I was lucky to meet him a couple of times (the first time I literally ran into him on a corner in NYC, he was very forgiving). His zest for all things delicious, and his absolute care and respect not only for food and beverage workers, but also for the people whose cultures and traditions he experienced and shared with us was so humbling. I also loved his unabashed curiosity and irreverence. He taught so many of us that food and drink is integral to how we bond–and that if we are willing to share a beer, ask questions and listen, we will often find more in common than what divides us. Watching him was a masterclass in empathy.
Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: Stay curious and always be ready to learn. I’ve gotten inspiration from everyone from a dishwasher to some of the most brilliant mixologists and chefs working in the industry. And absolutely try every style of food and drink you can get a hold of.
Favorite quote: “All our reasoning ends in a surrender to feeling.”–Blaise Pascal, the French philosopher and mathematician
Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: Despite my professions, I am an inherently shy individual. Yep, an introverted actor and cocktail professional–it makes no sense to me either!
What makes someone fabulous: Owning every aspect of who they are and what they love–and using that to prop up others.