Meet the Team: Carl Busch
Title: Lead Bartender
Hometown: Muscatine, IA
1. How long have you been with Hotel Julien Dubuque?
I have been working at the Hotel Julien Dubuque for 6 months as a bartender/mixologist
2. What path brought you to Hotel Julien Dubuque? Please share a little bit about your professional background and what led you to this industry.
I’ve been bartending for about 12 years, starting out at Winifred’s Catering out of Cedar Rapids, IA. I eventually started bartending at their high-end steakhouse, also called Winifred’s. While working at Winifred’s, I began to experiment with different spirits and house-made ingredients and learned that I was pretty good at making cocktails. In 2013, I entered and won the Iowa’s Best Mixologist Contest hosted by the Iowa Restaurant Association. I took a short break from bartending for about 4 years, working in digital marketing and online tech support before finding my way back into the hospitality industry at 7 Hills Brewing Company. I worked for 7 Hills as a bartender and marketing manager up until I had to be laid-off due to COVID-19. I took some personal time and started my cocktail YouTube channel, Alchemix Bar, with my wife. In April of 2021, I entered and won the IRA’s Top Mixologist contest again, representing myself and Alchemix Bar. But, there’s nothing like bartending for a crowd that enjoys cocktails. So I reached out to the Hotel Julien Dubuque and asked if they needed help. Now, here I am!
What are you most passionate about professionally?
Professionally, I’m most passionate about creating a phenomenal customer experience. That means making patrons comfortable by offering friendly and fast service and great-tasting, consistent cocktails.
What are you passionate about personally? What is your favorite way to spend a free weekend?
Personally, I’m passionate about cocktails and learning about different spirits, modifiers, and techniques to build quality cocktails. I spend a lot of my free time working on and growing our YouTube channel. I also enjoy making wood projects on my CNC and learning about business and marketing.
What are some of your favorite things to do in the Dubuque area?
The Dubuque area has beautiful scenery, and I’ve enjoyed hiking the trails at Mines of Spain and walking along the Mississippi River walk with my wife. I also like to visit the local breweries and some of the more unique bars in the area.
What do you love most about Hotel Julien Dubuque?
I love the history and the atmosphere of the Hotel Julien Dubuque. Walking through the doors feels like you’re stepping back in time, but with the modern amenities we’re used to.
What is your personal motto?
Be 1% better every day
Describe your typical work day.
On a typical work day, I get up and take my son to school. Then, I edit content for our YouTube channel and do some web development for websites or do some woodworking. I get ready to head into work by 2:30 to prep the bar and all of the fresh ingredients I need for that night’s shift. When I get home, I’ll usually unwind and take some time to relax before I go to bed.
What is your favorite cocktail we serve at Riverboat Lounge and why you like it?
My favorite cocktail I am serving right now is an original cocktail I created called the Winter Mai Tai. It takes the traditional Mai Tai flavors of almond, mint, and lime and adds winter spices. The cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg elevate the cocktail and make you feel like you’re celebrating the holidays on a beach somewhere tropical.
Please share a go-to fun-fact about yourself.
I played hockey for 6 years and love hardcore metal music.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share?
I can’t wait to see new faces at the Riverboat Lounge and to bring my knowledge of modern and classic cocktails to the patrons who visit the bar.