Meet The Team
James Middleton - Owner/Inventor
James Middleton first conceived the idea for SmokeTop back in 2013, shortly after getting his very first bartending job in Seattle, WA. He was befriended by the president of the bartender’s guild of Washington who gave James a tour of his own bar. James noticed how meticulously crafted the bar was and it overwhelmed his senses. However, when one of the bartenders made him a “Smoked Old Fashion”, a huge device, resembling a leaf blower, was used to create the smoky effect. James, loved the drink but hated the presentation. This obnoxious technique conflicted with the classy ambience of the bar and James thought to himself “There has to be a better way.” Thus, Smoke Top was born.
With a background as a firefighter, James was well schooled in the arts of both fire science and smoke behavior. Using these skills, he began smoking his own drinks using the bamboo skewers at his bar. This archaic, yet skillful technique, would send him down the path to creating Smoke Top. He saw immediately the entertainment value of smoking drinks in front of customers and began designing his first prototype. He knew he had to create a product of charm and elegance worthy of the drinks themselves.
James’ goal was always to own his own bar one day so he traveled the world and learned many international bartending techniques, giving him a unique perspective on the craft and artistry of bartending. He used these last 8 years to hone and perfect his prototypes, ultimately leading to Smoke Top. His dream was always to create artistic products, envisioned and crafted by bartenders, for bartenders. James vowed to only create products, he himself, would use. Smoke Top is the first.
Brian Weathers - Craftsman
Since a young age, I've been interested in making things with my hands. Constantly getting into my dad's tools, I would build whatever entered my mind's eye, out of whatever material I could find.
This desire led me to enter a precision machining apprenticeship which turned on a true aspiration for attention to detail. During my apprenticeship, some international events occurred spurring my patriotism and driving me to join the military. Enjoying the dynamic nature of the military, I decided to make it a career and after 23 years retired. During my time I attained a degree in aeronautics with an emphasis on ergonomics, as well my Certified SolidWorks Expert certificate, all the while creating in my off time.
Following retirement, civilian life proved to be a challenge. Looking for a sense of normality I turned back to creating and found it to be my form of "therapy". I truly enjoy exercising my brain during the design process of both abstract and conventional items and feel a sense of calm in the detail and organization of the build!