Bars, Pubs & Taverns: What's the Common Denominator?


Old Elk Lead Mixologist

What do bars, pubs and taverns have in common?

Was your first guess, “they all serve alcohol”?

Did you want a second guess before we spoil the answer?

Bars, Pubs, and Taverns all have an individual tending the bar. A very crucial role played by many. Whether their level of expertise lands them the title of pour staff or master mixologist, their ability to multitask is steadfast. While the barstools fill up and the drink tickets collect, that bartender appears unphased. They continue to move methodically around their bar, like a well choreographed dance. Bartending is far beyond fulfilling drink orders. They’re entertainers and friends to many.

Danny Meyer, acclaimed New York City restaurateur and the Chief Executive Officer of the Union Square Hospitality Group has affirmed that “business, like life, is all about how you make people feel”.

In the industry for nearly two-decades, Melinda Maddox exemplifies the true meaning of care and hospitality. Not only the talented beverage director and lead mixologist behind Old Elk Distillery, but also the leader for other bartender relation programs.

After competing in Boston’s Speed Rack, an all female bartender competition in 2016, she decided to sit out the following year to hold training workshops for her peers.

“Having 30 badass female bartenders all in the same room working together, but also competing and supporting each other for the Speed Rack title just brought it all together for me.” Melinda shares. 

Her role expands into community outreach, liaising with the United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG) and mentoring her employees at the Distillery’s tasting room - The Reserve By Old Elk.

Before her successful mixology career, Melinda graduated with a Psychology degree from the University of Southern Maine. As she wrestled with the decision to pursue a conventional path in Psychology, her opportunity to chase a career in hospitality couldn't have come at a better time.


“The most rewarding part of my job in the past was always meeting people daily and hearing their stories while serving them from behind the bar, now it is teaching my staff and new bartenders about hospitality and sharing what I have learned” Melinda explains. “To take opportunities you have to make them. Say yes to life, challenges, work hard, ask questions, and don’t settle. Ever. Educate yourself by reading and doing.” 

Two-decades worth of experience has landed Melinda many proud moments. One of which was her placement in the 2016 World Class Global Competition, where she ranked top 12 in the Northeast Region. In 2018 she was awarded “Most Imaginative Bartender” where she won her regional competition and showcased her skills in the national competition in London. Her gin-based cocktail was featured in GQ magazine

Old Elk Distillery is so lucky to have a relationship with such an outstanding individual. If you’re interested in trying one of Melinda’s creations, you can find her at The Reserve by Old Elk Distillery - Old Elk’s tasting room in the heart of Fort Collins, Colorado.

Erin Bishop