The Columbus Distillery Trail is a free, digital experience that sends you exploring the city’s seven craft distilleries where you can check in, take a peek at their process and enjoy a few sips along the way.

In this series, we’re helping you get to know each stop a little better by interviewing a key player to help show you why The Proof is in the Proof here in Columbus.

This week we're featuring Derek Reno from Echo Spirits!

Echo Spirits Beverage Director Derek Reno

So what do you do at Echo Spirits?

My title is Beverage Director at The Bar at Echo Spirits.

How did you get into the bartending business originally?

Like a lot of people, there’s a level of accident and circumstance to it. I went to Ohio State, graduated with a journalism degree and theatre minor and pursed a bit of that for a while. I worked for WCMH for 4-5 years and got a corporate regional job that took me out of the city before I moved back to Columbus. I had served and bartended through most of college, and when I returned I went back to a job at the Cap City Diner in Grandview. I was looking for something simple and started doing admin and hosting. Eight months later I was head bartender.

Echo Spirits Exterior

What drew you to work at Echo Spirits?

Over the years I was inspired by other bartenders and the resurgence of craft cocktails. I was overwhelmed with the need to create so I started my Reno Reserve cocktail consultancy, but this is my outlet now. I had been doing that for a while, working at Denmark on High, and I got recommended by a few people to work here. I knew this was the place to be.

What do you suggest first-timers order?

The stuff that’s more experiential. I have one now that’s a love letter to my old experiences in restaurants, the Música Norteña, with a Norteña guitar as an ice cube. The Pad Thai Mai Tai is served in a bowl, and we have a dueling cocktail that’s the Capulets & Montagues. Otherwise, we’re always trying to find out what the guest wants.

What’s your favorite spirit made at Echo?

The white rum. It’s great in a true classic daiquiri, the type that Hemingway liked. But above all, the Queen’s Share Rum – it’s one of my favorite spirits I’ve ever tasted. The Queen’s Share style is rarely made, but it’s coming back.

Cherrysmoke Rum Echo Spirits

Where else do you Live for the Scene in Columbus?

The Light of Seven Matchsticks – I think it’s a compatriot vibe to us, there’s a family sort of feel from their staff. Denmark on High – they’ve been consistent and true and authentic to their vision, and Garry White still maintains that. The Little Palace. The poutine, the chicken sliders, the cheeseburger sliders, or if you’re feeling it, the stromboli. My perfect night is to go have that experience, then go to 16-Bit and just play Burger Time.

Find Echo Spirits: 985 W. Sixth Ave., Columbus, OH 43212. echospirits.com

Learn more about the Columbus Distillery Trail here and share your sips with us using #CbusDistilleries.