Featured Bartender: Shannon McSwain

Shannon_McSwainWhen did you begin your bartending career?

I began bartending shortly after moving to New Orleans. I had been working in bars for years in every other front of the house position, but had been patiently awaiting an opportunity to jump behind the stick. Finally I had my chance at a bar in the French Quarter where staff worked as both bartenders, servers, hosts, and food runners simultaneously. It was a challenge I was excited to face and I took to it quickly.

What is your favorite bar right now? And why?

My favorite bar at the moment–and possibly forever–is Maison Artemesia in Roma Norte, Mexico City. I had the opportunity to visit Mexico City when I won a trip to Tales on Tour 2016, and ever since I’ve wanted to return just to visit this bar. It’s a dark and candlelit gem with an intricate menu featuring something for every palate. The atmosphere had me entranced when I entered the bar, but the service was what truly won my heart. They welcomed us as though we were old friends and we belonged there. It was an unforgettable experience.

Where can we find your drinks?

I just opened a cocktail catering company called Pour Toi in New Orleans with Bar Tonique bartender Jesi Goodwin. We provide cocktail bar services for parties, weddings, events of any kind, really. You can find my drinks on our custom menus! 

What album are you listening to at the moment?

Lately I’ve really been back and forth between listening to Kendrick Lamar’s “untitled unmastered” album and “Black Messiah” by D’Angelo and the Vanguard, which is quite possibly my favorite vinyl record I’ve ever heard.

What is one piece of advice you have for home cocktail enthusiasts?

My advice to home cocktail enthusiasts is always a two parter. First, watch your bartender and ask them questions. It’s our duty as hosts to share our knowledge with you as our bar guest, whether that means recommending literature or sharing a recipe or technique. Second, get weird with it! Be fearless when experimenting with the information you’ve gained from asking those questions.

What drink do you want on your bed stand when you wake up?
I’m a big fan of ice cold club soda on a summer morning. It’s both hydrating and refreshing! And in the cold weather I’m always a big fan of a piping hot toddy, nice and stiff, with plenty of bitters.

If you didn’t bar tend, what other career path might you have chosen?

I would’ve been a dancer. I danced for years until I was injured and had to make a career change, which is how I made my way into bartending. No regrets, I’m happy as a clam working in this industry, but dancing was my first love and will always be dear to my heart!TheBoliwood

Here’s a tasty recipe to try!
The Boliwood
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Garam Masala Syrup*
2 oz Sazerac Rye
1/4 oz Dry Orange Curaçao
8 drops Bittercube Bolivar Bitters
Top: 2 oz Club Soda
Glass: Collins
Garnish: Lemon twist
Shake ingredients and pour into a Collins glass, top with Club Soda and fresh ice. Garnish with a lemon twist.
*Garam Masala Syrup
    3 oz sugar
    3 oz water
    1 tbsp Garam Masala seasoning
    Heat to combine ingredients, and strain. Makes enough syrup for about 5 cocktails.