Each month, “Pre-Shift Lessons” gives you an inside look at the inner-workings of the mind of a different hospitality personality. This time around, we’re catching up with Aspen Bingham, who serves double-duty as bartender of Grey Hen RX at Century Grand and a sustainability student at Arizona State University.
A top-10 finalist for Tales of the Cocktail’s Most Imaginative Bartender award in 2023, Aspen also moonlights as a sustainable drink development consultant, helping bars and restaurants refine their cocktail programs by cutting waste, sourcing locally and implementing more energy-efficient and eco-friendly business practices.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Everyone is on their own timeline; your goals are unique to yourself, and comparing yourself to others’ accomplishments only creates jealousy and letdown. When you are ready, you will reach your goals on your own time.
What’s the most important tool you have in your arsenal?
Patience. I know it sounds cliche, but it really is an effective tool. Patience with yourself and patience with others. It takes time to learn and grow and often times we do not give ourselves or others enough time to become the best versions of ourselves.
What’s the best advice anyone’s ever given you?
When it comes to creativity, be yourself. In the hospitality industry, we can get so caught up in other people’s visions we forget we have a unique outlook of our own and that our creativity is special and deserving.
Who is one of your hospitality heroes and why?
Alex Jump is one of my hospitality heroes; her focus on health and wellness in the industry is changing the way we view mental health in hospitality. Alex’s commitment to her own well-being and others is really inspiring.
What’s your guilty pleasure (food or drink?)
Taco Bell, especially with all my coworkers, makes us all happy and has a lot of nostalgia attached to it.
What’s one of your favorite hospitality memories?
We were able to accommodate a woman who had celiac and also let her choose what kind of chips she felt more comfortable with since we had two gluten-free options. She even wanted a picture of the product since she loved it so much. She and her daughter said people are often really mean to her about her allergy and that we made her feel heard and safe. She was so happy it made us all tear up.
What’s a lesson you had to learn the hard way?
Sometimes it’s ok to move on from a job you do not like. I remember allowing myself to stay at certain places that were unsafe or unhealthy and it really affected my mental health and personal relationships. No job is worth your mental health and wellness, and there is somewhere out there that will be better.
What’s your favorite hospitality life-hack?
Always ask for help, and be able to say no when you can’t. As we gain more experience and take on more responsibilities in our roles, it is even more important to communicate that you need help. You can’t do everything on your own, and most often people find it admirable when you are vulnerable.