Brent Kroll, Neighborhood Restaurant Group

Brent Kroll, who jumpstarted his career at Michael Mina Group, has worked in some of Washington, DC’s toniest establishments, including White House hangout the Oval Room and Alain Ducasse’s Adour at the St. Regis Hotel. Now as wine director of Neighborhood Restaurant Group, his responsibilities range from curating the list for the forthcoming Iron Gate Inn to choosing the wines served on draft at fried chicken and donut joint GBD.

Favorite Aspect of Fine Dining: “I can find legendary wines I don’t drink all the time and have the excuse to open them.”

Aha Moment: “Working as a server in Michigan, where I’m from, with the country’s first female Master Sommelier, Madeline Triffon, and learning. They may push the sweet stuff back home, but Michigan’s dry wines can compete domestically—even if you’re more likely to see cherry wine.”

Favorite Pairing of the Moment: “Clairette de Die sparkling white wine from the Rhône Valley and super acidic sorbet like passionfruit. The sorbet appears softer and rounder, and the wine appears drier and more vibrant.”

What Brett Drinks on His Night Off: “A gin and tonic is such a refresher, great for when the palate has fatigue—especially in Spain. It’s an art there. Whether you go to a dive bar or an upscale restaurant, they garnish them with juniper berries and use lemon zest, not lime. They never use a soda gun.”

Alia Akkam is a New York-based writer and editor covering food, drink, design and culture.