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Wine Disciples 1 Wine Shops Midtown Midtown West Tenderloin

When I asked Michael Coll about the name of his wine shop, the answer, in his Scottish accent, was one of the most eloquent and humbling etymologies I have received: “It is a little tongue in cheek – a disciple is a student, a teacher, and a devotee. It is someone who follows and wants to learn. We aim to be that for wine.” Michael is extremely well spoken in everything he says, but this definition really got to the purpose behind Wine Disciples: it is a place of education, comfort, and new experiences. Michael knows that wine is one subject that can humble many people, either because they do not have the vocabulary, or because they have not been trained to know what they want. Wine Disciples is built for easy navigation – Michael wants to “help people connect.” He recognizes that the wine world is truly a territory to be explored: “It goes through the city, from coast to coast,” he poetically explained.

After learning about Michael’s past, I understood where he gets his worldliness. He traveled as an engineer through Alaska, Africa, and the Middle East before entering the restaurant world. Most recently he was the beverage director at Estiatorio Milos. “Travel is important,” Michael affirmed. “It opens your eyes to people’s cultures.” It helps him make even stronger connections with his customers, through shared experiences.

Everything about the wine shop is open and uncluttered, which is a special treat in the bustling Midtown streets. There are big red doors at the back of the wine store that can be closed for a private wine tasting, or open to the world. “We are focused towards the community,” Michael noted. In addition to his retail store, he has a restaurant, Enoteca, next door, complete with a private room that hosts up to 40 people for a sit-down dinner.

Wine Disciples focuses on organic, biodynamic, and sustainable wines, with an emphasis on smaller producers. With 756 different labels, there is a broad range of styles and price points. Since Michael’s main goal is to educate his customers, he often sells bottles of wine for an extremely affordable price. He says that when people ask, “Why are you charging so little for your wine?” he answers, “Because I want you to come in and drink it!” Michael told us that he caters to all budgets and that he wants to provide people with “the best ten dollar bottle of wine that they’ve ever had.”

Though excited about opening his first restaurant and wine shop, Michael also recognizes the scale of the endeavor. “It’s a huge project – if I were sane, I would never have undertaken it,” he said with a wry grin. Michael has already experienced the pay-off, however. He told me that the week before I visited, a man had tried to describe the kind of wine he liked to drink, not knowing what words to use. Michael worked with the man to find the right wine, and the customer returned after drinking it to tell Michael, “You hit the nail on the head.”

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Wine Disciples 1 Wine Shops Midtown Midtown West Tenderloin
Wine Disciples 2 Wine Shops Midtown Midtown West Tenderloin
Wine Disciples 3 Wine Shops Midtown Midtown West Tenderloin
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Wine Disciples 5 Wine Shops Midtown Midtown West Tenderloin
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American Bartenders School 1 Career Development undefined

American Bartender's School

Approaching almost fifty years, the American Bartender's School, owned by Joseph Bruno, has been teaching mixologists the ‘ology of mixing. Having moved in the ‘80s from their original location on Madison Avenue, the school offers forty-hour courses, with students leaving as certified bartenders with a license issued by the New York State Board of Education. Joseph contends that a bartender’s success is determined by conversation, “no matter how good the drink is. ” That being said, technical skill is far from lacking at this institution. Combining lectures and a “lab” portion, we witnessed students attentively toiling over drinks for phantom customers in a room designed to look like one giant bar. The difference, however, is that unlike a culinary school where one might sample their own creations, students do not imbibe here. In fact, there is no alcohol to be found at this bar. Everything is in the correct bottles and the colors all match their potent potable equivalent. What was explained to us is that everything is about measurements. Students are given a recipe to follow, and provided they do it correctly, they can rest assured that it will taste exactly right in the real world. After decades of experience bartending in and managing drinking establishments, Joseph has seen a new devotion to the craft of mixology. Up-and-coming bartenders have tested innovative flavors, homemade syrups, and the “farm-to-table” use of fresh ingredients. He has taken particular pleasure in the resurgence of drinks not popular since the Prohibition era. Perhaps it is a sign that we still have a chance to relive some of the best aspects of the Roaring Twenties.