When it comes to mixing cocktails, Paper Plane's Mary Palac is one of the best. The San Jose bartender earned the honor of being named one of 2019's Top 10 Bartenders in America by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation.
"There are people that I look up to in this industry and to be named next to them is a little overwhelming," Palac said. "But it makes me really proud to see my name, to see my bar's name, to see San Jose right up there with them."
Palac first starting bartending about 10 years ago at Loft Bar and Bistro in downtown San Jose and quickly found herself fascinated with the art of making cocktails.
"I really got into the nerdy kind of aspect of bartending – the cocktail history, learning about different spirits, how they're made," Palac said.
It wasn't until she got hired at Single Barrel – now Haberdasher – that she was able to focus on the education aspect of mixology.
"I came up with a lot of like-minded bartenders," Palac said. "And we all kind of geeked out over old cocktail books, discovering ingredients no one had made for decades."
Throughout her bartending career, Palac has completed the prestigious Bar 5-Day Certification program in New York City and even won a championship trophy at Barmania – a speed bartending competition held in Las Vegas.
With all the success Palac has had, she hopes she can share her knowledge and experiences with other women of color.
"I was told really early in my career that women don't do well in this industry," Palac said. "But I never felt like that was a deterence, if anything it was motivation for me to prove it wrong."
While she may not know what her future may hold, Palac knows she wants to continue devoting herself to educating others on spirits, cocktails, being a woman in the industry and just how "awesome San Jose is."
You can find Palac, crafting beautiful cocktails at Paper Plane – which was also named one of the Top 10 "high volume" bars int he Western U.S. region by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation.