Alec Bruggenthies

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I feel I found my career through my previous experience in the service industry coupled with my exposure to and desire to learn about beer, spirits and eventually wine. My family always had an open attitude toward alcohol. My uncle and grandfather both had interests in wine and its culture, and at a young age, we were allowed to enjoy wine with the family on holidays. As for being in the service industry, that started at an early age as well. From being a golf caddy at the age of twelve to my current position of being the General Manager of the National Wine Program of Smith & Wollensky, I have always been in the field of service and education. From Irish pubs to sorority kitchens to education and outreach programs, I worked many jobs while in college. I always enjoyed being in service and enhancing the enjoyment of my guests. This led me to working in restaurants and making my way to manager. I had always had an interest in the stories, history and origins of beer and spirits, even in my teens (which given my age in a pre-internet world was not an easy hobby to explore). I eventually became a certified sommelier through the International Sommelier Guild, an organization for whom I would later teach, a certified wine educator and I am currently in the process of becoming a certified spirits specialist. These certifications helped me establish myself at a few notable restaurants and restaurant groups in Chicago. After some stints at smaller restaurants, I worked as a sommelier for Lettuce Entertain You while at Ambria, one of Chicago’s top French restaurants and wine destinations for 27 years, and as the Beverage manager and sommelier at B.R. Guest’s Blue Water Grill. From there I went to work at Smith & Wollensky where I have been for the last eight years. All together I have been in control beverage for sixteen years and a certified sommelier for twelve.

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