“I have always been a part of this industry. I started as a dishwasher at about 12-years-old and moved my way up the line. I started cooking. My family opened their own restaurant and that’s where I began bartending,” says Luis Hernandez Diaz. “I fell in love with hospitality and eventually realized, to really make it, I needed to move to New York.”
Today, he brings over 20 years of experience in the industry, heading up a bar and restaurant consulting team with kitchen and cocktail knowledge, focused around creating cocktail menus, bar design, hosting events for large brands, offering technique and cocktail education, food development, and more.
“I was really excited to participate in this playlist program,” Diaz says, “and my playlist is a little similar to the way I unwind after a shift. What you do after a shift all depends on how that shift was. If you’re in a bad mood, you might not want to put on Heavy Metal. Every once in a while, you just want a beer and a shot, but if you’re in a great mood, maybe you go for a fancy cocktail with friends.”
His playlist is definitely going to put you in that happy place mood, starting with a song featuring an instrument that cannot help but make you smile––the Ukulele.
Carmen by Tiamane begins with soft strumming, and “already you’re relaxed,” says Diaz. “You’re thinking about a chill place, a chill moment … and a first sip of bourbon.”
You might even recognize his next song. It’s the intro track to the hit show Narcos. Toyo, by Rodrigo Amarante is the perfect type of tune to light a few candles, lay your head back on a pillow and deeply chill.
In a moment, you’re down in New Orleans, listening to lyrics about famed Voodoo Priestess Marie Laveaux in a title track by Cubanismo. Buckle up for The Seabelts song, Tank! next and then on down the line it gets much feistier with a little Duckworth by Kendrick Lamar.
Right now, for Diaz, he’s taking the pandemic in stride, seeking out his next adventure behind a bar and really focusing on his consulting work. He’s also enjoying lessons learned in the tenure he has in this profession.
“I think the hardest thing about being a career bartender,” he says, “is figuring out who you are I the industry. You have to first figure out your own ego. Get that thing in check. And then understand who you are and the way you do what you do. Your own style. It’s very important.”
We definitely now get a nice sense of Diaz’ style via this lovely, long playlist.
Make sure you mix a stiff one before hitting that play button.
Title and Cocktail Photo by Gabi Porter