Nominated for the 2012 Best American Brand Ambassador award, Erick Castro has climbed the ranks in the Cocktail Community at an incredible rate. The once local Sacramento bartender and Co-creator of Midtown Cocktail Week is currently the West Coast Brand Ambassador for Plymouth and Beefeater Gins.
Castro was born in Riverside County and raised throughout Southern California. He graduated from San Diego State University in 2004 with a degree in Communications; Advertising. Years before he graduated he found his true passion; that passion was being behind the bar. Castro credits many of the basic skills and knowledge he uses as a bartender to his position at B.J.’s Brewery while in college. But his passion for mixology was definitely fabricated was he moved to Northern California. In 2006 he began working at Zocalo’s in Midtown, where he met Joe Anthony Savala. The pair shared a passion for exceptional cocktails and found themselves traveling to San Francisco quite often seeking out innovative bar programs and the people behind them. In 2008 Castro moved to San Francisco to build his cocktail chops at the award-winning Bourbon & Branch. In 2009 he was assigned the beverage director position at Rickhouse, which was chosen as one of the World’s Top Bars by Food & Wine Magazine. His passion and knowledge of the cocktail world is constantly being cultivated by talking to industry innovators and asking questions. “We all stimulate each other, progression happens when we learn from each other.”
Castro and Savala’s growing obsession with cocktails inspired them to create an event where industry individual and community members could come together to celebrate the art of the cocktail. In 2008 the pair created Sacramento’s first ever Cocktail celebration, Midtown Cocktail Week. The duo’s idea for the event was not only to celebrate artisan cocktails but also to showcase local bar programs and the local spirits, products, and produce used in them. Castro credits Sacramento’s unique location in the state as well as its resident’s phenomenal pallets to the success and acceptance of its cocktail culture. “People in Sacramento are down to have killer drinks, and I am proud to be a part of getting it going.” Castro states that Sacramento’s ability to obtain fresh local produce year round sets it apart from other major cocktail epicenters such as New York and New Orleans. He hopes that through education and willingness to venture away from the average cocktail, Sacramento residents will learn the unique beauty of an artisan cocktail. That is cocktails made with freshly squeezed juice and quality spirits. Castro hopes that the event will continue to grow and become comparable to other major cities cocktail celebrations.
Over the past ten years Erick Castro has made quite a name for himself in the cocktail industry, including the Rising Star Award in 2010 from Star Chefs. Each summer Sacramento looks forward to Midtown Cocktail Week under his influence. Although he currently resides in San Francisco, and says he’ll never leave, he visits Sacramento quite often. Tracking down Castro may be quite difficult these days, as he is busy traveling all over the world promoting fine spirits, but if you catch him at your local watering hole or in an airport bar be sure to give him a cheer for all he has accomplished!