Leo DeGroff started his career behind bars long before he was able to order a drink at one. The son of cocktail legend Dale DeGroff, Leo began his career at the age of eighteen assisting his father at all types of cocktail functions. Learning at the right –hand of King Cocktail himself, Leo quickly found that he too had a passion for the ‘craft of the cocktail’. This passion drove him in his earliest days in the industry, when, along side Dale, he was producing handcrafted cocktails in volume at events all over the world. Together they created cocktails and conducted bar training from Russia to the Caribbean, aboard cruise ships and at countless restaurants and events, making drinks for everyone from Bobby Flay to Oprah Winfrey.
Leo has produced cocktails and help run events at many top culinary and beverage festivals, a list that includes: The Food and Wine Aspen Classic, South Beach Food and Wine Festival, Las Vegas Nightclub and Bar Show, New York Bar Show, the Telluride Wine Festival, the James Beard Awards, Tales of the Cocktail, and the Manhattan Cocktail Classic. He has been a major part of running events for The Museum of the American Cocktail since its’ inception.
Leo’s experience has included several important stages. After stints at groundbreaking New York restaurant, nightclub and cocktail destination, BED, and working alongside Audrey Saunders at cocktail Mecca, Pegu Club, Leo has focused his time on running events and working with some of the top people in the beverage industry, to broaden his knowledge on spirits and cocktails. From his days at BED, Leo formed a relationship with Willy Shine and Aisha Sharpe and has worked with them and their company, Contemporary Cocktails, to produce countless events. In 2006, Leo was part of the team that ran the first 5-day class for Beverage Alcohol Resource (BAR), becoming an integral part of the BAR team. Leo is a graduate of BAR at the highest (BAR Ready) level, and is currently working on his BAR Masters certificate.
In 2008, Leo began working full-time with Steve Olson at aka wine geek. As a key member of the team, Leo helps aka wine geek execute high profile cocktail events, implement beverage programs and teach beverage professionals all over the world about spirits and cocktails.