Behind the Bar: Preston Ramsey at Local Breeze

Preston Ramsey is an easygoing guy.

In fact, the same welcoming spirit and unhurried attitude that have an effortless way of making people feel at home is just what got him into bartending in the first place.

Ramsey started out at a Phoenix resort 10 or so years ago as a bar back. When the lead bartender was out sick, the manager asked Ramsey to step in. So impressed with his way with the customers, the manager made him a bartender for good that night.

Since those days, Ramsey has crisscrossed the country, and after brief stops in Key West, North Carolina, Texas and San Diego, he's back in Phoenix, running the bar he helped to build at Local Breeze.

From his travels, Ramsey collected skills and methods while observing other bartenders and developed a palate for tropical drinks that can send any sipper off to a day on the beach, large glass with small umbrella in hand.

The Downtown Phoenix restaurant and bar he now calls home couldn't be a more fitting place. A historic home turned local hangout, the front outdoor bar that opened last October oozes with a laid-back, non-pretentious vibe.

Ramsey says the atmosphere at Local Breeze is his favorite part of working there; the vibe reminds him of the Caribbean and hanging out with friends. When asked about working downtown, Ramsey also mentioned how the friendly environment gives the area a character all its own.

"Downtown Phoenix is like a small town inside a big town, it's a friendly place, you don't pass someone walking down the street and not speak to them."

Ramsey says one of his favorite parts of the job is introducing strangers at the beginning of the night and watching them hang out by the campfire, talking like old friends by the night's end.

Drawing from his Caribbean inspiration and seasonal produce, Ramsey enjoys concocting cocktails like basil or watermelon martinis. You'll often find him behind the bar muddling mojito lemonades or shaking up his signature cucumber martini (look for the recipe in tomorrow's Chow Bella). Plans are in the works for new drinks featuring peach and watermelon in the coming weeks.

A few of Ramsey's signature cocktails.
A few of Ramsey's signature cocktails.

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