Now in charge of libations at Normal Heights’ popular indie cocktail hangout Sycamore Den, Sarah Ellis has racked up an impressive roster of experience in her relatively few short years behind the bar. First, we should perhaps give a nod to Anthony Schmidt (Fairweather) and his literal piece of ‘Sage Advice’; during her post-Bloomingdale’s shift drinks at El Dorado, it was Schmidt who encouraged Ellis' future course into bartending.
With a three year stint at another ‘Heights neighborhood favorite Jayne’s Gastropub under her belt (owner Jayne Battle educated her in the world of wines), industry vet Eric Johnson snapped Ellis up to work at the ‘Den upon her return from a five-month surfing sabbatical in Central America. Ellis considers the well-respected bartender an excellent mentor and, as is a natural progression of the mentor-protégé relationship, Ellis became bar manager at Sycamore Den earlier this spring following Johnson’s transition to Juniper and Ivy.
The Park City, Utah native who has called California home for over 14 years also counts some Scottish heritage on her father’s side, and Highland Park as one of her favorite single malts. Fun Fact: The Turnbull Tipple is a nod to her paternal ‘grannie’, whose maiden name is a famous last name in the Scottish Border town of Hawick.
Thanks to a sparkling personality and inherent skill for mixing spirits, it’s no wonder Ellis' star continues to ascend San Diego’s cocktail scene; her cocktail philosophy is simple: "The best drink is one that you can't wait to order again."
Here, in a special Cocktail Week installment of Where the Bartenders Drink, Ellis tells Eater, and you, about her favorite local dives, watering holes and neighborhood cocktail go-to’s, when not mixing up a storm behind the bar.Read More