Brian MacGregor learned the art of hospitality at a very young age from his father, a career bartender in his childhood home of Milwaukee, WI. And like so many in the food service industry, MacGregor started out washing dishes his freshmen year of college at Ciati’s in St. Cloudd, MN.
Since making the move to San Francisco and a career behind the bar, MacGregor has honed his craft with the help of some of the Bay Area’s top mixologists. He first worked under Jeff Hollinger and Jonny Raglin at Absinthe. He credits his evolution from a bartender to a mixologist when he started working behind the bar at Absinthe and fiddling with some of the old cocktail books. Soon, what began as an interesting exercise for MacGregor to learn the classics turned into a career obsession and deep-seated mixology philosophy.
After Absinthe, MacGregor worked with Thad Vogler, who was designing the cocktail list at Traci DesJardins’ Jardinière when MacGregor started in 2007. Since taking over as Jardinière’s bar manager two years ago, MacGregor has been building an extensive collection of rare and fine spirits and using them to create a varied and classically-inspired cocktail list.
“We should constantly be challenging ourselves to produce a better drink,” he says. MacGregor, always on the hunt for obscure classics and even more archaic spirits, likes to push the mixology envelop—and his customers’ tastes—by blending ingredients like Scotch, chamomile liquor, and Peruvian bitters, as in his Scorching Banshee.