Interview: bartender Scott Beattie (Spoonbar)

Bartender Bay Area

Photo courtesy of Scott Beattie


Was there moment when you knew you’d do this for a living?

I just think it kind of happened. I got into my mid to late 20’s and was still in the restaurant business…I was a wild and crazy person. I moved up to St. Helena to open up Martini House and started to look at what I was doing differently. I knew I would do it for a career when Nick [Peyton] and Doug [Keane] moved to Healdsburg. Only then did I start to get recognition. Once you get recognition for things, or validation with things, you keep going with it.

Would you say that you have any mentors?

Gary Green’s been a good one for me over the years, for sure. With Gary, it was learning to do things correctly or not do them at all. Follow the recipe, understand the importance of dilution and respect the responsibility in terms of service and guests and act the part, make everybody feel special…He adds a certain dignity to the profession, takes it seriously, still has a sense of humor, but expects you to take yourself seriously. He’s absolutely right, whether you’re slinging beers or making crazy cocktails.

Marco Dionysos , one of my business partners. He was the first great bartender in San Francisco to resurrect old recipes. He ran the bar at Absinthe. That’s where I had my first great drinks at San Francisco, was at that bar.

Who are some other bartenders that you really admire, and how come?

Duggan McDonnell, who was a big influence on me. My other business partner, H. Joseph Ehrmann also. Death & Co. is probably the best bar I’ve ever been to in New York. Phil Ward and Bryan Miller do really awesome work, for sure. When I went to New York to drink at some of the better bars, they were still working at Pegu Club. Sasha Petraske, who did Milk & Honey, I had some awesome drinks in that bar as well.

What was the last cocktail you developed, and what was your approach?

We did a really drink in the Summer with lemon verbena leaves, gin, St. Germain, Hangar One Buddha’s hand citron vodka, Thai coconut milk, and lemon juice, with dehydrated pineapple chips on top, cinnamon and ginger. It was an attempt to do something tart and refreshing that would be good in the summer. It’s tall on ice, something beautiful…almost in the spirit of a tiki drink, but not with rum, and not quite as sweet.

What’s a great simple cocktail recipe for people to make at home?

Margaritas. Get a good blanco tequila like Siete Leguas or Tres Agaves, one-and-a-half ounces with 3/4 ounces of lime juice, 1/2 ounce.

If you could only fill your glass with one more cocktail, what would be in the glass?

The Last Word, it’s my favorite drink. It’s 3/4 ounce of good gin – London dry, 3/4 green chartreuse, 3/4 maraschino and one ounce of lime juice.

Who would make it?

Anybody could make it if they measured it…Mila Kunis would make it.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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