As Director of Japanese Beverage, Eric Swanson oversees Wirtz Beverage Group’s sake brands, as well as its portfolio of Japanese beer and spirits. Swanson is a Certified Sake Advisor and an Advanced Sake Professional, known worldwide as the foremost expert of Japanese beverages. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, he is a sought-after consultant to restaurants and Japanese spirits companies.
Swanson’s passion for Japanese beverages and culture started while working as a bartender in Japan. In 1998, Swanson ran a bar at the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, where he served Olympic athletes and celebrities alike. After moving back to the states, Swanson honed his craft working with Masaharu Morimoto on the beverage program at Nobu. From there, he partnered with acclaimed chefs such as Marcus Samuelson and Eric Rupert on the opening of their respective Japanese restaurants, including the famous Shybuia at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Swanson is focused on educating accounts and consumers on the many high-quality alcohol offerings from Japan, going beyond the commonly known sake category. His role at Wirtz Beverage is to implement value-added programs in restaurants and retailers that inspire long-term brand growth. His sake and cocktail lists are dynamic and known industry-wide for their diversity and scope.
“Beverage development is just making people comfortable and fluent in the alcohols we sell. People entrust us to help them make a menu, to educate their team on the products and to make them accessible to the public.” – Eric Swanson