When Andrew Izrael rolled the dice and left his job at the popular Charlotte hotspot Farenheit, the new Ink N Ivy didn't even exist. Fast-forward a few months and it's clear he made the right move.
Izrael knows how to handle his alcohol. The former culinary student-turned-wine sommelier has worked in fine dining since he completed his studies at Johnson and Wales University. Now, he's the trusted beverage manager at what's become the most talked-about restaurant in Charlotte.
Sure, the 26-year-old bartender gets to enjoy the sights and sounds around Ink N Ivy's massive, 6,500-square-foot patio and 4,000-foot indoor dining space, and the prestige of running one of the busiest bars in the city. But Izrael's journey to the "good life" was nowhere near as smooth as vintage cabernet or as neat as his favorite glass of bourbon. We caught up with him recently to have him serve it up straight for us.
Creative Loafing: You started off as a professional chef. How did you end up crossing over into the world of cocktails?
Andrew Izrael: Well I actually studied culinary arts at Johnson and Wales and have always been passionate about food, but it only took a few strange stares and surprised looks from other chefs before I realized I talked way too much to be on the cook line. Even though that wasn't the best place for me to connect with people, I still had a passion for food, flavors and the creativity of culinary arts.
That's when I took a stronger interest in wine and realized I didn't have to cook the food to be a part of the dining experience. From there I started to build my alcohol knowledge and service techniques and here I am.
Ink N Ivy is the new place for everyone in the city to see and be seen. Given the location and buzz the restaurant is getting, your bar area is usually packed. What's one of the wildest shifts you've had since you guys opened in November?
Well, the other week during the Women's March we literally had over 20,000 women packed inside and outside our doors. They were fired up, excited and demanding mimosas! Man, it was absolutely crazy, complete madness and everyone loved it.
We sold over 29 cases of champagne that day before 1 p.m., but the main thing is we got through it and guests had a great experience. Our restaurant was designed for days like those. You can come and have a nice high-quality cocktail or you can come and rage face. Either way we got you covered.
The restaurant is still very new, so for those who haven't yet experienced a night at Ink N Ivy, what can they expect?
Imagine that a sports bar, a nice steakhouse and a seafood raw bar had a baby inside of a nightclub. That's basically us.
We offer the best of everything: high-quality ingredients, special craft beverages and a well-trained staff. Whether you're from Noda, south Charlotte or Plaza Midwood, we have something for everyone. We cater to all tastes, so you don't really have to go anywhere else. It's classy, it's fun and it's crazy. Kinda like the Tazmanian devil. Sure, he's wild and he takes you through a whirlwind, but at the end of the day, everybody loves Taz.