Alex Larochelle is all about details. That’s probably why she’s been able to carve out her niche in the Boston bartending scene. Originally, her plan was to go into journalism. With her sights on being a news reporter, she graduated college and landed a job in Rhode Island as the lottery reader. Like many of us in the hospitality business, her career path took a sharp turn. On her sister’s invitation, she decided to go work in town at a small neighborhood bar. Once she was in the thralls of restaurant business, she was hooked.
The Delux cafe is where Alex made her hospitality debut, in an Elvis memorabilia-clad dive nestled in a forest of brick and brownstones in Boston’s South End. In her detail-oriented fashion, she honed her hospitality skills: anticipating guests’ needs, understanding the guest experience, being engaged in conversation, creating a welcoming atmosphere, etc. She explored other bartending opportunities at larger establishments before being invited to join the opening team at Committee, a high-energy bar and lounge in the up-and-coming Seaport District. There, she was given creative freedom in her role to invent cocktails and connect with other driven professional bartenders. One in particular: Jay Giordano, beverage director.
He and Alex partnered up, approaching bartending programmatically. Having this autonomy allowed her to investigate ingredients, flavor combinations, and liquor--to understand not only the flavor experience, but the culture from which they’re derived. From there, she crafts a unique libation that pairs (and fares) beautifully with the vibe and food the restaurant serves. Bartending, she realized, can be artful if you have the soul for it. Her passion landed her a role designing beverage programs, and she and Jay took that to the new Cambria Hotel in South Boston.
The upscale, modern hotel is situated between Boston’s South End and South Boston (known as Southie) neighborhoods. Six West is the hotel’s restaurant and bar, occupying space on both the ground level and rooftop with stunning views of the city--and it’s also Alex’ home away from home. She was part of the opening team at Six West where they welcomed her creativity, conceptualizing everything about the drink and goes beyond ingredients to ensure the garnish, glassware, pairing, description, and photogenic context is on-point.
Climbing the career ladder in hospitality isn’t just about bottles and talent. It’s about creating a culture of people who work as a team to deliver an exceptional experience. That means going out of your way to do things that aren’t part of the job description, or not viewing the team as broken up by “front of house” or “back of house”; and, of course, staying organized. “We have one funnel and it still hasn’t gone missing,” she says. “Everything has a home.”
Most good bartenders have a ritual, mindset, or rule to stay on the A-game. Alex has a set routine. She has “me time” before her shift so she can sit and peacefully (and strategically) do her makeup. But it’s not just about looking good, but feeling good about going into work every day. “Having a team atmosphere is crucial to the success of the business. I want everyone to be happy to come to work.”
Alex knows the importance of leveraging your best traits to move your career forward: a strong work ethic, a creative spirit, a helpful attitude, and approachable demeanor worked well for her.
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