Kyle McHugh is one of the preeminent beer, wine, and spirits experts working in the beverage industry today. After growing up around the bar business at the elbow of his barkeep mother Karen McHugh in Battle Ground, Washington, Kyle first went behind the stick himself at Washington D.C. landmark “The Tombs” while attending Georgetown University.
After graduation, Kyle moved back to the West Coast and set up shop working for restaurateur George Biehl and Houston’s Restaurants in Los Angeles. After running three different bars for George in L.A., Houston’s moved Kyle to Chicago to take over that bar, and eventually the service program. In 2002, Kyle joined Weber Grill Restaurants and helped them open their showcase location in the heart of Chicago. In five years with Weber, Kyle opened two additional restaurants in Illinois and Indiana, reformulating their entire beverage program as well as designing a customized comprehensive beverage training program for the company.
In 2007, Kyle formed his beverage consulting, education & events company “The Boozehound” as a means of making quality beer, wine, spirits and bartending accessible to industry professionals and the public alike. From 2008 - 2010, he opened & operated Drinks Over Dearborn – Chicago’s first specialty beer, wine and spirits retail boutique equipped with a classroom and private event space. During this time, he also served as a professor of wine & beverage at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago, as well as an instructor for Master Mixologist Bridget Albert’s Academy of Spirits & Fine Service, and the Advanced Mixology & Culinary Academy.
Kyle was named a Diageo Master of Whisky in the fall of 2011, where he tours the country hosting interactive tasting events & seminars featuring Johnnie Walker, The Classic Malts, Crown Royal, Bulleit Bourbon & Rye, George Dickel, and the rest of Diageo’s world-class portfolio of whiskies. In 2016, Kyle was tapped to join the leadership team at Samson & Surrey, partners in FEW Distilling, Bluecoat Gin, Brenne French Single Malt, Widow Jane, and Mezcal Vago, as their Director of Brand Advocacy, where he oversees all aspects of education and ambassadorship for this new and exciting spirits supplier.
Kyle is currently National President & Chairman of the Board of the United States Bartenders' Guild, where he is a Certified Spirits Professional and has been a member since 2007. Kyle is an Advanced Sommelier candidate with the Court of Master Sommeliers, a Certified Cicerone candidate & trained BJCP beer judge. Kyle and his work have been featured in countless media outlets, including: Food & Wine, Wine Enthusiast, Fine Living Network, NBC-5 Chicago, WCIU-26 Chicago, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Magazine, Michigan Avenue Magazine, Cheers, Paper, Santé, TimeOut Chicago, Chicago Reader, and many more.