The Head Barman
Jake Smith, East Coast native and Head Barman at Motor Supply Co. Bistro since summer 2020, has been working in the restaurant business for almost 10 years. Originally from Maryland, he moved to Columbia, S.C. as a teenager before taking up residence in Florida. Working for many years in management of a corporate restaurant, he seized the opportunity to return to Soda City. His passion for the hospitality industry was reinvigorated in 2017 as he moved to mixology at Tazza Kitchen’s Columbia, S.C. location.
The fast-paced and social aspects of bartending drew Smith to the craft as it was reminiscent of his experiences in restaurant kitchens, bringing a similar exhilarating rush. He was inspired by the creativity and sought ways to further his skill.
“I started picking up more and more books, reading about new techniques and what mixologists in top markets were doing. I became obsessed with learning,” says Smith. “It’s more than just making drinks and putting ingredients together; the technique, dilution, and craft of it all — that’s what hooked me on the profession.”
With a passion for sustainability that aligns with Motor Supply’s values, Smith has teamed up with Executive Chef Wes Fulmer so nothing will go to waste in the kitchen and the bar. “We plan to reuse ingredients any way we can. It’s awesome when I can incorporate seasonal ingredients into a cocktail base with cooking technique,” says Smith. Based on these culinary techniques behind the bar, Smith says, “The complexity of a drink didn't come from the spirit or the supporting factors but in the base of the cocktail. That's where I think you can get really creative and do something different.”
Smith is continuing Motor Supply’s long-standing tradition of bringing locally sourced ingredients to the cocktail program, working closely with local vendors to create farm-to-shaker sippers.
From behind Motor Supply’s bar, expect to find a balanced menu showcasing spirits of all kinds. You’re sure to find rum, Smith’s favorite spirit which he says is the most versatile to craft. New to the restaurant’s cocktail program, Smith will incorporate two flagship cocktails that will be staples on the menu surrounded by an ever-changing list of seasonal cocktails.
Smith has an open-door policy when it comes to inquisitive minds. He loves to share techniques and tips with guests, inviting them behind the scenes. You’ll often find recipes with lots of local inspiration on his social media pages.
When not at the Motor Supply, you can find him floating down the river and soaking in the outdoors or taste-testing his way through other Columbia, S.C. cocktail programs. “I love working alongside a team to build and create specialty cocktails. It makes me feel like I am achieving something. That’s why bartending spoke to me. It feels like a calling I never knew I had.”