David Suro Piñera | Philip Ward | Phoebe Esmon | Ryan Fitzgerald | Misty Kalkofen

David Suro Piñera, President
David Suro Piñera - President - Tequila Interchange Project

Born and raised in Guadalajara, Jalisco David immigrated to Philadelphia in 1985. Excited to showcase the food and spirit of his homeland, he opened Philadelphia’s first upscale Mexican eatery, Tequilas Restaurant, in 1986. It has since become world-famous for serving authentic cuisine as well as offering a list of over 80 brands of fine 100% Agave tequilas.

As a restaurateur and a tequila aficionado, he was determined find the highest quality tequila. This quest propelled him to develop and produce his own boutique tequila brand, Siembra Azul — a small batch, artisanally crafted super-premium tequila, which is made from only the finest blue agave.

David Suro has made his life’s work telling the story of tequila and agave distilled spirits. Since launching Siembra Azul in 2005, he has worked tirelessly to make Siembra Azul a symbol for quality, transparency and ethical business practices. After 9 years of setting an example and challenging the consumer, David Suro has expanded creating Siembra Spirits.

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Philip Ward, Vice President
Philip Ward - Vice President - Tequila Interchange Project

After a little over two years of service at Death & Company, Phil sought a new venture and opened the much anticipated Mayahuel in New York City, the first Tequila/Mezcal cocktail bar which Philip owns and operates.

Philip has consulted and helped open bars around the country including Tequilas in Philadelphia, Watermark in Asbury Park, Craft and Commerce in San Diego, and for the entire Auberge Hotel group. He was nominated for Bartender of the Year three years in a row at Tales of the Cocktail where Mayahuel won Best New Bar in World and Death and Company won Best American Bar this past July.

In late 2009 along with the talented Katie Stipe (Flatiron, Mayahuel, Clover Club, Vandaag) he officially started his consulting venture Last Call Consulting wishing to help discerning palates in New York and beyond.

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Phoebe Esmon, Fundraising Chair
PHoebeYou might have met Phoebe behind the bar at Chick’s, Noble, Kennett So. 2nd, or the Farmer’s Cabinet.  She was the founding president of the Philadelphia Chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild, and continues to be active within her community.  Phoebe is currently the Lead Bartender at Emmanuelle and Yachtsman, which she runs with her professional partner and fiancé, Christian R. Gaal with whom she is also developing a beverage alcohol consulting service.

Phoebe was born into a family of academics and antique dealers.  She has lived all over the south eastern/mid western United States.  Her own academic pursuits landed her in Philadelphia, where, in 2008, she received an MFA in Book Arts and Printmaking from the University of the Arts.

She tended bar as an undergrad, which whetted her appetite for the art.  Much of what she learned prior to getting back behind the stick came from personal research into cocktails and cocktail history, combined with a love and talent for food and flavors.  After matriculating, she returned to the job with a renewed focus and passion.

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Ryan Fitzgerald, Membership Chair
Ryan Fitzgerald - Tequila Interchange ProjectAfter 10 years in the restaurant business Ryan Fitzgerald found himself behind a bar in one of the best eating and drinking cities in the world – San Francisco. Most recently, Ryan has opened the much anticipated ABV. Since moving to San Francisco Ryan has worked at and helped to open a variety of notable bars and restaurants including Bourbon and Branch, Tres Agaves, Foreign Cinema, Bacar and most recently Beretta. As the director of spirits and cocktails Ryan has helped to maintain the high quality products that earned Beretta a nomination for best new bar at Tales of the Cocktail in 2008.
Ryan is a certified Doctor of Tequila, a USBG Spirits Professional, B.A.R. graduate and founding Tequila instructor at Bourbon and Branch’s Beverage Academy. His passion for spirits knowledge has taken him to Mezcal palenques in Oaxaca, Whiskey distilleries in Kentucky, and Tequila distilleries in México. His eagerness to share his knowledge has led to guest bartending stints at Drink in Boston, Mayahuel in Manhattan and the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong.
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Misty Kalkofen, Education Chair
Misty Kalkofen - Tequila Interchange ProjectMisty Kalkofen first stepped behind the bar while studying theology at Harvard Divinity School. Upon completing her degree in 1998, Kalkofen realized what most excited her about the Bible was the passage where Jesus turns water into wine. Shortly thereafter, she joined the opening staff of the B-Side Lounge, the first bar in the city to focus on classic cocktails and vintage spirits. Kalkofen teamed up with a few fellow enthusiasts to create Boston’s first modern day cocktail club, the Jack Rose Society.


In 2010, Kalkofen became a founding member of the Tequila Interchange Project. In 2012 Kalkofen and Sullivan founded Revolution Cocktail Catering and Consulting thus realizing a dream to take their passion for cocktails and spirits education beyond the bar room. In April 2013, Kalkofen joined the family of Del Maguey Single Village Mezcals as the East Coast Juez thereby continuing her quest to educate spirits enthusiasts about the culture and tradition of Mexico’s artisanal agave distillates.

Misty Kalkofen has been featured in Bon Appetit, Imbibe, Food & Wine Cocktail editions, Wine Enthusiast, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Tasting Panel, Wine & Spirits, and more. Kalkofen was nominated for American Bartender of the Year at Tales of the Cocktail 2011 and International Bartender of the Year at Tales of the Cocktail 2012 and 2013.

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