Homegrown talent returns where his journey began

Homegrown talent returns where his journey began
June 15
03:00 2017

In 2009 when Fred Parent left Winston-Salem for the bright lights of New York City to take a teaching position, his goal was to educate the next generation and bring students from different environments together. Today, Parent is still educating others and bringing people together, but his platform is a little different.

As a top shelf mixologist and Hendrick’s Brand gin ambassador, Parent travels the country staging tastings, and other happenings involving creativity and cocktails. Parent said although he enjoyed being in the classroom while working toward his B.A. in history at Wake Forest University (WFU), he started bar tending and fell in love with the profession.

After a year in the classroom, Parent decided to trade in his grade book for bottles and mixed drinks. When he decided to make a return to the restaurant business, Parent started working as the daytime bartender at a French spot in Chelsea and worked his way up the ladder in one of the most popular cities in the world.

“I started as the daytime bartender then I worked my way to night shift. Within a few months, I was the beverage director, and the rest is history,” laughed Parent during an interview with The Chronicle last week. “I went from behind the bar to more of the management side.”

After managing several bars in New York, Parent started Mixed Neat, a mobile cocktail catering service that specializes in wedding parties, bridal showers, and other events. While most people think bartending, or “mixology,” is simply pouring different spirits and syrups into a glass, Parent said there is lot more going on. He said in the bartending world the last decade has been known as the “craft revolution.” Parent said more bars and bartenders are starting to use fresh juices, and even homemade syrups.

“Bartenders are starting to show a lot more depth than just mixing a few ingredients together,” he said. “One thing I stress is the importance of using fresh juice and it’s fairly easy. The craft revolution is ongoing and more people are starting to understand that.”

Since joining the Hendrick’s team, Parent has created more than three dozen cocktails, many of which have appeared on menus and at bars across the country, and according to him, many more are on the way.

“I feel like I’m never going to stop creating,” he continued. “It’s a personal passion so I think there is plenty more to come.”

After serving as the Hendrick’s Ambassador for the Central United States for a few years,  Parent recently relocated to the South and returned to the place where his journey began, right here in the Triad. Before a private mixology demonstration last week in Greensboro, Parent, who now lives in downtown Winston-Salem, said he was excited to be back to see how the area has grown over the years.

While at WFU, Parent worked with the Downtown Partnership and saw many of the plans for downtown before they came to life. He said the atmosphere generated in the heart of the city, with its mixture of art and nightlife, is incomparable.

“I see my hometown as a hotbed of art. After living in places like New York, and Chicago and visiting places like London, per capita there is something about this part of the world,” he said. “I’ve met some of the best artists right here in Winston. I think the city is on the right path and I think the city should keep leaning into it.”

When asked why he decided to move back to the Twin City, he said what brought him back was the same thing that persuaded him to leave nearly a decade ago: the love of educating others. With the growth in the downtown nightlife, he couldn’t have picked a better time.

“That’s what attracted me to this job the most, the ability to educate. There’s different levels of educating people,” said Parent. “I love the teaching aspect and it’s great because I feel like I’ve come full circle. My dad is a teacher and my brother’s a teacher, so it’s been really cool.”

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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