When not performing on Broadway, lingerie modeling, or turning down marriage proposals from handsome billionaires, I attend support group meetings for compulsive liars. In the meantime, I live in a French Quarter balcony apartment a stone’s throw from Bourbon Street.
In 1977, at age 16, I worked after school as a pizza waitress then progressed to cocktail waitress, barback, service bartender, and then head bartender. I’ve tended bar all over America, but gained the bulk of my experience on a Caribbean cruise ship and at the wonderful world of Walt Disney.
Random House published my first book in 2000 and now there are a total of 14 bearing my name—Cheryl Charming aka Miss Charming™—more books than any other author in the cocktail genre. I’ve been called one of America’s top mixologists, cocktail celebrities, and rockstar bartenders. I also freelance as a cocktail consultant/instructor/host, graphic designer, and entrepreneur.
When I was five years old my parents moved my family to Little Rock, Arkansas, preferring to raise children in the Bible Belt as opposed to the pre-Vietnam War social climate of Los Angeles in 1965. It’s only too appropriate that the first alcohol I ever saw was during a church trip when the preacher’s daughter begged me to hide her Smirnoff bottle in my suitcase. I forgot about it until my mother found it…oops!
My first car was a silver Chevy Camaro with red leather bucket seats and four-in-the-floor, which enabled me to take an after-school job as a pizza parlor waitress. Thus began my natural progression into the hospitality industry.
While tending bar I became fascinated with the social amusements such as bar tricks, jokes, toasts, trivia, recipes, games, etc. I scribbled everything I learned from patrons on cocktail napkins that I stuffed into shoeboxes. Soon, with a penchant for travel, I accepted a job as a bartender on a Caribbean cruise ship.
In the late 1980s, I set sail on a new adventure when I heard that Walt Disney World was opening an island of bars called Pleasure Island. After a few years, Disney asked me to be an instructor teaching bar and magic tricks in their mandatory F&B program called Quest for the Best. It was around this time I began researching how to get a book published.
In 1998, after three years and 350 rejection letters, my first book
Miss Charming’s Book of Bar Amusements, was accepted by Random House. It hit the shelves in 2000.
Also in 1998, I dove into an exciting new world called the World Wide Weband quickly realized that there were only a handful of cocktail-related websites available, so I taught myself HTML code and set out to provide a one-stop bar & cocktail resource site, MissCharming.com.
In its infancy, the Internet globally united like-minded people. It was pretty fascinating. Other bar/cocktail-related sites and people on the Internet at this time were Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown with MartiniPlace.com, Tobin Ellis withBarMagic.com, Pål Løberg with Webtender.com, Dan Hutchinson withBarNoneDrinks.com, Mark Hastings with BarProducts.com, Robert Hess withDrinkboy.com, BottlesUp.com, Cocktail.com, Bartender.com, TheBartend.com,MartiniClub.com, Bartending.com, idrink.com, KegWorks.com, Bruce Tomlinson with WorldWideDrinks.com, Robert Plotkin with BarMedia.com, Dale DeGroff withKingCocktail.com, and Gary Regan with ArdentSpirits.com.
Webtender.com was a 1995 college/hobby project for Pål Løberg and he ran it until 2004. Many of the categories are still active. You can still post in the forum and buy tools in the BarStore, but adding to the recipe archive is longer available. Some of its first forum posters are around today such as Angus Winchester withAlconomics.com, Robert Hess with Drinkboy.com, Chris Milligan withSanteFeBarman.com, me, and Jason Jelicich with TheFlairGuy.com.
In 1994, the first web magazine, Hotwired, appeared and the bar section from Paul Harrington was extraordinary. The site is no longer available, but you can see some of the stunning graphics that were online in his coveted book, Cocktail: The Drinks Bible for the 21st Century.
|Also, at WayBackMachine.com you can view archive snapshots of many of these websites. This archive acts a little strange, but with patience you can view some hidden treasures. For example, here are the Hotwired Cocktailpages. And some sites are lost. BarMagic.com used to be there, but now it only shows it starting in 2007.|
If you’d like to take a peek, I dug up one my old flash entry pages here.
My time in the first decade of the millennium was spent studying Graphic Design at Ringling College of Art & Design in Sarasota, Florida and publishing 14 nonfiction books. The most popular include; Miss Charming’s Guide for Hip Bartenders and Wayout Wannabes, The Everything Bartender’s Book, and Knack Bartending Basics: More than 400 Classic and Contemporary Cocktails for Any Occasion.
As far as cocktail history, the 2nd golden era of the cocktail was also born during this decade with a marriage of the kitchen and bar with focus on fresh ingredients to craft gourmet cocktails.
With each year, I kept up with modern times and put out informative andfun newsletters (which morphed to a blog), produced a fun drink trivia app game called, Miss Trivia, created cocktail jewelry, designed custom creative career resumes & biz cards, and began providing graphic design services. I became a member of the USBG and the Museum of the American Cocktail, and continued collecting drink seen in media.
There are too many to mention, but I have been featured in many articles, mags, blogs, etc. and have hosted, judged, and instructed cocktail events. Starting in 2007 I began freelancing with Brown-Forman as a corporate mixologist and graphic designer.
In 2010, I moved to the French Quarter from Florida. In 2011, I helped the The Bombay Club update their cocktail program and was often featured in New Orleans media. Today, I’m the bar manager at the Bourbon O’ Bar at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel on the corner of Bourbon and Orleans. My goal is to make it the nicest bar on Bourbon Street.