New York City, NY
Maxwell Britten is a James Beard Award-winning beverage professional and entrepreneur.
Maxwell is a James Beard Award-winning beverage professional and entrepreneur whose widely-ranging capabilities have made him one of the industry’s leading personas.
Britten’s introduction to hospitality came at an early age from his father, a restaurateur in his hometown of Tucson, AZ, who instilled the warmth and focus that would shape his approach in the years to come. It was only by chance that Britten eventually found his way behind the bar. At 19-years-old, Britten was pursuing a career in film when he took notice of the craftsmanship in tending a high-caliber cocktail bar while working at Jack the Horse Tavern, and became enamored. He’d spend the next four years honing his characteristic polish and acumen while running in the city’s growing social circle of bar talent. In 2009, Britten’s work at the Brooklyn Heights cocktail destination was recognized by StarChefs with that year’s Rising Star Mixologist award.
After a post at Freemans—a Manhattan mainstay with a long history of celebrated bartenders—Britten was approached to help create a New Orleans-inspired cocktail bar that sought to revitalize the notion of hospitality in bartending.
The result was Maison Premiere in Williamsburg, which since opening in 2011 has dashed every standard in the industry for service, ambiance and quality. As its founding Bar Director, Britten resurrected what are now mainstay practices for serious-minded cocktail bars, like tableside martini service and the return of absinthe to the modern bartender’s cadre. Maison Premiere went on to place regularly as one of the World’s 50 Best Bars, and won a James Beard Award for Outstanding Bar Program in 2016 after two previous nominations.
That year, Britten left Maison Premiere to broaden his experience with newly emerging facets of the industry. He started with the technology of cocktail culture and co-created The Liquor Cabinet: an encyclopedic app for connoisseurs and tradesmen cataloguing classic recipes, tools, spirits and their history. Later that year, Britten joined GrandLife Hotels as a business partner to its transportive ne plus ultra subterranean jazz and cocktail club, The Django, located beneath The Roxy Hotel.
The James Beard Awards are the highest honor for food and beverage professionals in America. The James Beard Foundation Book, Broadcast & Journalism Awards Dinner celebrates the best in food media and takes place in New York City.
StarChefs: Rising Star Mixologist 2009
Moving to New York City in 2005, Britten began his career working as a busboy at Jack the Horse Tavern in Brooklyn Heights. Resident bar talent Damon Dyer (Flatiron Lounge) took Britten under his wing, and by the end of 2007, the young barkeep stepped into the head bartender spot. Four years later, Britten’s style is all about taking old school methods and updating them with a contemporary twist.