Bartender Style is a collaboration between Bit by a Fox and photographer Rose Callahan. This monthly series, exclusively on the Bit by a Fox blog, will explore and document the personal style of some of the best bartenders in New York City and beyond. This month, we are going outside of our regular formula and are featuring two superstars in the booze industry who are not attached to a bar. As cocktail specialists for their own consulting firm Ford Mixology Lab, and Brand Ambassadors to separate but equally legendary brand portfolios, this husband and wife power couple knows a thing or two about bartending AND style. Meet Kyle & Rachel Ford!
When you’re always in cocktail attire, you’re always ready for a cocktail.” – Rachel Ford aka “Lady Tanqueray”
Jay Z & Beyoncé, Thelma & Louise, these guys…Kyle & Rachel Ford = #relationshipgoals. These kids are almost too cute together.
A sort of modern-day Nick and Nora Charles (the fun-loving husband-and-wife detective team in The Thin Man), this stunning pair are often chicly coordinated (without being matchy matchy), have a tendency to finish each others sentences (in a charming way), and most enviably, they are each others biggest cheerleaders. As brand ambassadors in the highly competitive spirits industry, where long hours, frequent traveling and erratic schedules are the norm, it is pretty significant to have someone who not only understands exactly what you’re going through but has your full support. It is pretty clear the Fords truly admire one another.
High school sweethearts who met at 15 in a Sacramento, California karate studio, Rachel worked the front desk and Kyle instructed 4 year olds how to hi-yah; they’ve been inseparable ever since. They went on to attend the same college but had divergent interests. Kyle went into finance and Rachel into real estate. The Fords then, captivated by the renaissance in cocktail culture, made the life changing decision to quit their jobs and made the move to San Francisco to cut their teeth behind the stick.
In a few short years, they both made names for themselves in the San Francisco cocktail scene. It was there that they first formed their cocktail & spirits consultancy, Ford Mixology Lab. Soon after, they set their sights on New York City.
As part of the opening team for beloved bitters bar Amor Y Amargo in New York City, the Fords were soon holding court every Sunday night as they hosted a special “FML Night” together – a play on the initials of their business, and the popular social media acronym for “fuck my life”.
It was a night devoted to righting all of the wrongs from the previous week, with cocktails! It gave them an opportunity to work together and provided a platform for them to introduce themselves to the greater New York cocktail community.
Turns out, it was a great intro! They went on to design the Fall/Winter cocktail menu for city hotspot, Empellon and then continued stints at high level bars around town before landing their current brand ambassador roles, which they’ve both held for nearly 4 years.
Instead of capturing this month’s Bartender Style subjects in a bar, the Fords, a pair of dashing cocktail nomads, have kindly invited us into their lovely home, high above the city and the East River.
Breezy, sunlit and uncluttered, with pops of bright colors, their home very much reflects the two of them.
And, sprinkled throughout are pieces that nod to their involvement in the cocktail world.
Their respective brands even live side by side…
Kyle is the Cocktail & Spirits Expert for Rémy Cointreau and, since March, has been named Impresario of Collectif 1806, which means he now manages the entire brand ambassador program for Rémy Cointreau, currently expanding through the overseas market.
Kyle didn’t really get into fashion until he started bartending. And even then, self admittedly, he went in for the classic San Francisco hipster bartender look at the time – suspenders, gigantic mustache, the works! After his days in finance, it was all part of the creative outlet that he found solace in as a bartender. The move to New York had a significant effect on his style. These days, his overall look skews more towards what he dubs “dapper grandpa”.
In fact, Kyle counts Rachel’s Grandpa, Big Ed, tattooed on her forearm, as one of his biggest style inspirations. Big Ed’s motto is “having fun!” and with that attitude, you can imagine, he is not afraid of bold prints, bright colors and little details like pocket squares and tie bars. Both Kyle and Rachel seem to have adopted this cheery approach to living and dressing!
Kyle admits that since working for a premium brand like Rémy Cointreau, his signature quirky style has definitely gotten elevated, and he tends to dress up now more than ever.
In her role as National Brand Ambassador to Tanqueray Gin, Rachel has been affectionately referred to as Lady Tanqueray these last four years. She’s now leading the entire gin category as Diageo National Gin Ambassador, but Rachel assures us she’ll always be Lady Tanqueray!
Rachel has had an interest in fashion for quite some time. She went to Otis College of Art and Design for Fashion and originally thought that was what she wanted to do. Regardless, fashion has always been a creative outlet for her. When asked what her off duty look is like, she says things like “fashion doesn’t rest” and “style doesn’t have an off day!” And she means it!
For years, Rachel strictly wore Betsey Johnson. While her sartorial choices have broadened and have become more refined, there are remnants of that designer’s sense of whimsy and embellishment peppered throughout Rachel’s wardrobe. Most specifically her adorable (and vast) collection of shoes!
Rachel has enjoyed representing Tanqueray stylistically and matching the qualities the historic brand evokes – sophisticated with an edge, bold with a sense of mystique. She is classic glam, with an edgy quality, herself. Rachel isn’t afraid of being a little sexy but prefers below the knee hemlines and classic cuts, mixing up modern and retro looks.
Rachel and Kyle both contributed a cocktail recipe, both martinis…but with slight variations. While at home, whether they are relaxing or entertaining, they agree that the martini is their go-to cocktail – like Nick & Nora! However, precisely what’s inside differs from Ford to Ford…
Rachel stuck with a classic recipe of 50:50 gin and vermouth with a few dashes of bitters, staying true to her Tanqueray. And Kyle took a page from one of his favorite cocktail authors, Bernard DeVoto of The Hour, and created an “obnoxiously precise, delicious martini” with Botanist Gin. And, they happened to put these lovely drinks in Nick & Nora glasses, as if sealing their classic couple doppelgänger comparison forever. I suggest you do the same!
Ford Mixology Lab’s Classic Martini and Dry Martini:
Martini, Classic Martini, Dry (Bernard DeVoto Style)
1 1/2 oz London Dry Gin (Tanqueray) 2.5 oz Botanist Gin
1 1/2 oz Dry Vermouth 4 tsp. Dry Vermouth
2 dashes bitters
Stir well with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Shoes (tying) – Allen Edmonds
Shoes: (couch) – To Boot New York
Plaid Jacket & Blue Jacket – Ralph Lauren
Bowtie – J. Crew
Floral Pocket Square – The Hill-side
Polo Shirt – Bloomingdale’s
Sunglasses – Ray-Ban Club Masters
Ring – David Yurman