Crafting a career beyond the bar with the Cocktail Wonk, Matt Pietrek

Matt Pietrek is the Cocktail Wonk. He made the switch from writing about Microsoft Windows (of all things) to spirits and cocktails, and was last year a finalist for the Best Cocktails and Spirits Writer award at Tales of the Cocktail. You can read his insightful, impeccably researched and wide-ranging articles at

Marcus was chomping at the bit to pick Matt’s brain about his specialist area of expertise – rum – as he’s recently used the Wonk’s articles to educate his own bartenders at Hains & Co. He and Nicole ask about carving out a career without a background in the industry, Matt’s upcoming book, as well as some of the sensitive topics surrounding rum and sugar. Stay tuned for his well-thought-out answer to that massive question.

And for our Free Pour segment, we chat to an industry icon in Connecticut who you may know from TV or social media as the Cocktail Chemist, Dimitrios Zahariadis.

Dimitrios Zahariadis, @the.cocktail.chemist

Dimitrios has been a bartender for over 20 years and now owns a neighbourhood come cocktail bar in Waterbury called Highland Brass Co. He also appears on American TV as the Cocktail Chemist. Dimitri's bursting with the perfect amount of energy for this industry, so if you're in the area, make sure you get in to see him and try one of his classic cocktails!

Key points

  • 03:55 From Microsoft Windows to Cocktails
  • 07:00 Rum reporting in New Orleans
  • 11:00 Carving a career without a background in the cocktail industry
  • 13:40 Matt’s upcoming book – Minimalist Tiki
  • 18:50 The big question: rum, sugar and other additives
  • 24:50 The Cocktail Wonk audience
  • 28:05 Some of the Wonk’s favourite drinking experiences.
  • 32:45 The Free Pour Five with Dimitrios Zahariadis