Alex Valencia / Co-Owner and Beverage Director, La Contenta Restaurants, New York City, New York
Cocktail fans who have followed Alex Valencia’s career know the New York City bartender as a true artist behind the bar. His creativity, talent and infectious enthusiasm have flowed from hidden speakeasies and trendy pan-Latin concepts to a world-renowned whisky room and now his own establishments in the Lower East Side and Greenwich Village.
Alex’s restaurants are consistently credited as having some of the most avant-garde libations in New York City. La Contenta explores the potential of tequila and mezcal and promotes Mexican mixology through its use of “alt agave” spirits including charanda, Oaxacan-made whiskies, bacanora, sotol raicilla, tepache, pulque and more.
At La Contenta, La Contenta Oeste, and the soon-to-open La Contenta Next Door, Alex and his partner, Chef Luis Arce Mota, showcase the cuisine of their Mexican roots with creative infusions of French influence. At the bar, a menu of traditional pulque (fermented agave sap) and tepache (sweetened fermented pineapple rind) may feature homemade guanábana purée in one drink and the The Perfect Purée in another. Alex says The Perfect Purée’s extensive variety of textures and flavors combine perfectly in any mixed drink and one of his most popular cocktails is Pulque de Guayaba with The Perfect Purée Pink Guava Puree, Santa Teresa Rum and lime juice.
Alex was born and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-largest city. He began working in the service industry in 2003 and by 2008 had started honing his passion for mixology at some of New York City’s top establishments including the world-famous hidden speakeasy PDT (entered by a phone booth at the back of a hotdog joint), Little Branch and Apotheke.
Alex’s talent and creativity quickly caught the attention of his peers, the press and the public. As the head bartender and bar manager at the trendy pan-Latin Yerba Buena (now closed) in the West Village, Alex’s cocktail program earned high praise in The New York Times, The New Yorker and New York Magazine. In 2012, Alex began working as head bartender at The Flatiron Room, known for its vast library of 1,000-plus whiskies, and soon had his whisky cocktail recipes published in Heather Greene’s book “Whiskey Distilled: A Populist Guide to the Water of Life.” Alex has been a guest bartender at Bathtub Gin and Botanic Lab and since 2010 has shared his passion for his craft through mixology classes and mentorships.
In his biography he says, “Aside from always challenging myself, the most important honor for me personally is the opportunity to get to know and form lasting friendships with other fellow mixologists around the world who share the dedication to the craft.”