Taha Ismail—Mike Isabella Restaurants
“They call me the spice king,” Taha tells us. That’s because he’s from Morocco, where spices are weaved right into the culture. Taha creates the beverage programs for all of Chef Mike Isabella’s restaurants including Kapnos, Graffiato, and others with “coming soon status.” The drink he’s most proud of from 2014 is his house made five-spice ginger beer. It’s his mom’s recipe, and you can try it in Graffiato’s DC Mule or Kapnos’ Mustachio. One of Taha’s many secrets is that he turns to pastry books for inspiration (again with the spices). He also travels quite frequently to glean ideas from outstanding cocktail programs near and far. When no one’s looking, you’ll find him sipping bourbon neat.