My name is Sean MacPherson. I'm 34 years young and I grew up in Laurel, Maryland. I currently live in Columbia Heights, right down the street from my favorite bar in the whole world: Room 11. I'm extremely lucky because not only is my "home away from home" within walking distance, but I also have the privilege of bartending there, and I've been doing so for almost 4 years now.
I started bartending about 7 or 8 years ago, but until I started at Room 11 I was just free-pouring whatever into a glass, hitting on the hostesses and getting trashed behind the bar. I credit Jess Woods, who is my current general manager and one of my best friends, for really making me realize the importance of service, and that if I wanted to be successful as a bartender then I needed to immerse myself in it.
I began studying everyday (and drinking a lot at night), messing around with different spirits, trying to take in everything and understand why certain ingredients work together, and how cocktails come about. I've also been able to learn a lot from other talented bartenders there: Dan Searing, Eddie Kim, Iris Ho and Gavin Pierce, not to mention the many bartenders who visit and sit on the other side of my bar.
Creating cocktails doesn't always come naturally for me and I'm always trying to find balance, or a "peak" for a flat drink and what-not. Actually, the really hard part is coming up with a clever name for the drink afterwards. In my case, this is usually inspired by mid-90s hip-hop music, supermodels, and Japanese horror movies. Our cocktail menu changes weekly at Room 11, so it's a fun challenge that's always keeping me on my toes.
R E A L Q U I C K N O . 1
Favorite name you've given a cocktail? It's hard to pick...It's a pretty personal and extremely ridiculous process for me but I try to have as much fun with it as possible. Bartending is the closest thing to an artistic outlet that I have in my life right now so it's really cool to when someone orders a drink that you've created by the name you've given it – even [ed: especially?!!] if that [someone] is somebody's grandmother and that drink is a Paloma variation named after a retired pornographic film actress.
If I go out for a drink, which isn't very often, I usually go to 2 Birds, 1 Stone to see Adam Bernbach. I'm a big fan of his and the cocktails are always fantastic. I'm sad about The Passenger closing. Wherever [Passenger bartender] Lucas Smith ends up, I'll sit at his bar. He's always entertaining. There are a lot of new [places] opening up and I can't keep track of all of them, but Megan Barnes at McClellan's Retreat is a pretty rad bartender as well.
R E A L Q U I C K N O . 2
Favorite thing about DC? The city is so small, especially if you work in the restaurant industry. Everybody knows everybody and has something to say about this person or that person and has probably made out with them at some point it seems. I try and stay out of it for the most part but sometimes it's really fun to be a spectator from behind the bar...just not the making out part. Please don't make out at the bar.
When I'm not bartending, I try to relax as much as possible and hang out with my girlfriend and my cats. Maybe cook something mediocre in the kitchen. Pretty boring stuff. If I make myself a drink at home, it's usually pretty simple. I try to keep it somewhat seasonal, only because there are so many options and I like the variety. Lately, I've been drinking a lot of peaty scotch or brandy, with a Manhattan thrown in here and there. I get most of my excitement and social interaction at work so I tend to stay home on days off. I shouldn't really call it "work" because I truly enjoy what I do, and I'm grateful to have such an amazing place to share that with people.
R E A L Q U I C K N O S . 3 + 4 + 5
What are you watching on Netflix? I don't know how it took me so long to discover Archer but it's the funniest shit ever. I guess we're re-watching Parks and Recreation for the one hundredth time, and lately I've been falling asleep to that Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey show. Your cats' names? Calpurrrnia and Tuna Casserole aka Tube Socks. I love them. Favorite DC place? I have a drink named 13th & Clifton. My sweet baby girlfriend took me there after work on a cold night. It's a pretty sweet view to have while sitting on a ledge with someone you love, talking for hours and freezing your ass off. (I guess this should have been my answer for #1)
T W O W I N T E R C O C K T A I L S
I made these two drinks for Room 11's New Year's Eve cocktail menu, and I actually thought them up laying in bed the night before. They worked out on first try, but that's not how it happens all of the time.
L E T ' S G E T R I C H
1 oz Pisco
1/2 oz Cocchi Americano
1/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Mahia (Moroccan Fig Brandy)
1/8 oz Simple Syrup
Add ingredients to a cocktail shaker, shake hard, and double strain into a champagne flute. Top with dry sparkling wine and garnish with a lemon twist.
S E C O N D C H A N C E F O R D I S C A R D E D L O V E R S
3/4 oz VS Cognac
3/4 oz Kirschwasser
1/2 oz St~Germain
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Grenadine
2 dashes of aromatic Cherry Bitters
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Shake hard and strain into a collins glass. Add ice and top with soda water, then garnish with a lemon wheel.