Shift Drinks: Jason Loring

Jason Loring is one of the co-owners of Nosh, Slab, and Rhum Bar + Grog. Each are located in Portland, Maine. He is pictured with an Amaro Montenegro neat.

How did you first come upon Amaro Montenegro? 

Arlin [Smith of Hugo's] introduced it to me. It is bittersweet, which is what I like in a drink. I am telling you, I don't really have good answers here.

We'll get there. 

I like eating whole oranges with the skin on? That's why I like it. Should I sit up more?

You look great. When did you start working with food? 

Part time work after school is really how it happened. Through working there I was introduced to people who owned Back Bay Grill and it really just snowballed from there. My mom couldn't cook herself out of a hole so I didn't like a lot of things until I worked there. I was just blown away.

Do you remember the first thing you tried there that changed your perspective? 

It was Veal Demiglace with mushrooms and green beans. I couldn't handle it; I was blown away. I didn't think that was possible. My mom would make something with brown green beans out of the can, or if something was fresh she'd start cooking it in cold water and she'd be done when it was soft and mushy it was done. My dad eats everything well done and overcooked.

So I did a five day externship [at Back Bay Grill] when I was a sophomore in high school and then they offered me a job over the Summer. I was there for about a year.

What appeals to you about the industry now that you own your own places. 

I think I am growing out of cooking and I like building businesses. That's what I want to do. Sometimes I feel guilty about it because cooking… those are my roots. It's what I did for so long. You're there on Friday nights and you're sweating behind the line. Now I sometimes feel like maybe I am not doing something [when I am not doing that], or like I should be doing something more.

What makes you a good business person? 

It's like people tell you: surround yourself with people that are better than you.  Surround yourself with people who can help you grow your business and not just by doing what you want to do. I am kind of a hard ass sometimes but I try to take people's criticism and incorporate it into what I do.

Working in partnerships, which is part of the business, is like being in a relationship. There is a lot of give and there is a lot of needing to know when to give up too. You gotta know when to fold 'em. [Laughs]

NOTE: This interview originally ran in the Spring of 2014.