We often don’t know what life has in store for us. Nikki is no exception. “My first job was slinging milkshakes at the young age of 16. I did not know this would be the start of my experience in the restaurant industry, albeit at a fast-food chain. Since then, I’ve worked in a pizzeria, diner, fine-dining restaurant, rooftop patio bar and now a bakery/cafe with a full service bar. I did not formally attend college, but I have learned from many mentors and fellow peers. I am constantly learning whether it is from people in my industry or from my mistakes. Mistakes are the best. My thought process has always been: “Well, I’m never going to do THAT again.”

So what drew Nikki behind the bar, and what keeps her involved in the industry? “I wanted to learn something new. I had been serving for a few years, and I thought ‘what’s the next step?’ I realized then that I loved people, I loved food (and drinks), and I loved creating. I had absolutely zero experience in the bartending world but it included the three things that I loved most. I started a few months after I turned 21, and I hit the ground running. From not knowing the difference between a pinot noir to a sauvignon blanc, or even what whiskey was, I entered my first bartending competition four months in. I placed 2nd, and I have been growing ever since! What keeps me in involved is simple—I live and work in one of the coolest cocktail cities in the world. I’m so lucky to have innovative friends and colleagues. They keep me motivated to be just as amazing as they are. The best part about my city is that if I have a question, comment or concern regarding anything beverage or hospitality related, my social network has all the answers.”

Her first experience with Angel’s Envy was for an excellent cause. “The first bar I ever bartended at was known for throwing industry events. We threw a Toast the Trees cocktail competition, and every cocktail we sold raised a dollar for the cause. We had a blast drinking Angel’s Envy and raised money while doing so!”

Nikki has a pretty active take on down-time and relaxation. “If I’m not at home with my husband, three dogs, tortoise and hens preparing a home-cooked meal, then I’m doing something that involves networking at events or flipping homes in real estate. I will sleep when I’m dead!” Look for Nikki at Angel’s Envy events around Chicago; she’ll be the one that never stops moving.