Devan Reid

Excellence in hospitality! More than just a bartender, there are those who are "drink designers," who engage with you, make you feel most welcomed and create a special experience. Cheers to Devan Reid, a master mixologist (and assistant manager) whose warmth and work are works of art.

Tell me about your business or specialty.

I am a mixologist, head bartender and assistant manager at Hotel Tivoli & The Corner. I create crafted cocktails using fresh ingredients and seasonal inspiration!

How did you get to where you are now?

I started working in restaurants in high school to do what every teenager wants - to earn some spending money of your own and be independent! My first job as a busser and a server - they were not my favorites by any means but I loved the busy energy of a restaurant and all the different roles and interactions. The bartenders were always intimidating to me! But I remember fantasizing about stepping into that role. It seemed so appealing with the beautiful drinks, the socializing, the constant flow. They seemed to be everyone's favorite! So, I worked my way up. As I grew older I grew more of a passion for food and spirits. I worked in all different types of environments. From late night scenes to breakfasts to outdoor beer bars with live music.

I was eventually getting a little burnt out and wanted to try something more stable. That's when I started making chocolate! Sweets and baking were always something that I loved and enjoyed doing. I started with Krause's Chocolates in Saugerties, NY where I had planted roots for some time. Years went by and I knew this wasn't what truly made me the happiest! I had decided to move on after I started a new relationship, and roommates were just not working out anymore. I had visited my mother who lives in Tivoli and happened to notice a new spot opening up on the main intersection on Broadway across from Santa Fe restaurant. I remember seeing this huge purple orb (our bar chandelier) and decided to inquire. Upon finding out the new hotel/restaurant was planning on opening in August of 2014, it seemed like the perfect new beginning into what I had missed doing! Eight years later, I am at Hotel Tivoli & The Corner doing what I love the most.

What surprises you in your work, now or in the past?

I'd say the one thing that still surprises me is myself! Everything you do of course can be monotonous, draining, tiring. I still have those times I wish I had a simple nine-to-five. But, then there are the days where your shift just goes perfect. The energy is there, your flow is good, the kitchen doesn't yell at you (ha!). You've created something that you're excited to share and put out to your people! Then the feedback is all worth it. You're reminded of why you do what you do. It’s most certainty not like that every day or night, but the ones that hit like that make it all worth it.

How has the Covid crisis affected your work or business?

Any new ideas or approaches…or lessons learned?

Covid, as we know, was hard for every restaurant/bar and any small business. Part of this job is taking care of people and we weren't allowed to do that. But I'd like to focus on the positive effect that came of it all, in my opinion: I feel it brought our coworkers and guests closer than ever. We all supported each other in a strange, uncertain time and it showed. So, I am grateful for that.

What drives you crazy?

What drives me crazy?! A loaded question! I would say the lack of understanding and patience, how detail oriented the job is and how frustrating it can be to put a lot of love into something and it goes unnoticed. Believe me, most of the time this is not on purpose, I don't blame people for this. People don't see the behind the scenes. They sometimes don't understand what it took to get that dish to you or that cocktail made, and most of the time they won't even think about it twice. At the end of the day if you let that get to you, this industry isn't for you.

Who inspires you? (it can be anybody you know, or don’t know)

If you ask me who inspires me, the answer is not going to be some fancy know-it-all mixologist who has traveled the world looking for the most unheard of ingredients. The answer for me is simple, it is my husband. He is my biggest fan and always pushing me to be the best. The only person I can truly take constructive criticism from (without being offended!), he is always reminding me that failure is not an option and it is something I carry with me - not only in my career but in my everyday life.

You're a trailblazer - what are some career highlights to date?

The first highlight that sticks out to me is the opening of Hotel Tivoli, the first summer we opened our doors. I didn't even bartend that night, but passed hors d'oeuvres for hours. I was not upset about this, surprisingly, and just happy to be a part of it. The amount of community that showed up, to support not only the new business but my friends and family to share my new beginning, was also very memorable.

Another favorite highlight for me was the Bartender Wars event in Rhinebeck. I took the win home for Tivoli in 2019 with one of my signature cocktails called "Gaea's Spell" - Brooklyn gin, fresh lime, orange curacao, thyme simple, chartreuse, and orange blossom.

Words of wisdom or thoughts?

I'm not sure if I have words of "wisdom," but my advice is to never settle for anything less than your worth and to always learn from your mistakes. It's important in any career to be enjoying what you're doing and proud of what you're putting out there. I love where I am at, and appreciate all the lessons and the harder steps along the way. I hope to someday open my own bar/restaurant where I can continue to make people smile and, of course, leave them feeling a bit better than when they walked in.
Devan Reid is a life-long resident of the Hudson Valley, currently living in her hometown of Tivoli, New York. Born in Poughkeepsie, she was raised in Tivoli, proudly right across from the old iconic water tower. A graduate of Red Hook High School in 2005, she entered the service industry about 20 years ago and never looked back. She is what you would call a "lifer!" In August 2014, with Hotel Tivoli newly opened, she began bartending at its in-house bar and restaurant, The Corner. She is still behind that beautiful marble bar creating all of her favorite crafted libations and serving the community. She puts passion into everything she makes and is often reminded it does not go unnoticed. The Corner has a special place in her heart and has helped her grow, not only in her profession but as a person. Moving up to head bartender and assistant manager, she has "learned so much and is thankful for the ride!" Her aspiration is to pass her experience and wisdom on to others some day - at a place she can call her own.

(published 2023)