When obsession is the force that drives you, anything’s possible. Or so proves mixology whiz Miles Macquarrie. Working his way through the Atlanta cocktail scene for the past decade, Macquarrie spent time behind the bar of Holeman & Finch Public House, among other favorite local watering holes. Most recently, Macquarrie landed in Decatur as head bartender at Leon’s Full Service, where the young cocktail gunslinger seems to have seriously found his footing. And how.
Calling Macquarrie merely passionate doesn’t do justice to the dedication this bartender exhibits for execution and technique. Like many of the best of his pro peers, and culling from traditions of the Southeast, Macquarrie mixes his own house-made bitters and tinctures, and works in seasonal produce. The result is the spot-on, city-wide hit menu at Leon’s Full Service. And Macquarries’s lasting obsession isn’t just rewarding palates. It’s rewarding him.
Our Rising Star Mixologist was named Creative Loafing’s best bartender two years in a row, and Leon’s Full Service earned best cocktail program in 2010, as well as national press in Imbibe and Food & Wine. Beyond professional accolades, Macquarrie’s developed a sort of cult following amongst industry and civilian tipplers alike. As he puts it, the drinks at Leon’s are as strong as their weakest bartender, and given Macquarrie’s potent talent, we’re confident that means strong across the board. As Macquarrie continues to mix at Leon’s, focusing on technique-driven, aromatic drinks, he’s also looking toward creating his own bar space sometime soon—with a personal drive and obsession that are sure to get him there.
Interview with 2012 Atlanta Rising Star Mixologist Miles Macquarrie
Katherine Sacks: What is your style as a mixologist?
Miles Macquarrie: I’m very much technique-driven; I would much rather have a well prepared classic with the right technique than anything else. Outside of that, I like to pick apart classic cocktails, seeing what you can make on your own. We have a lot of creative cocktails but they all start somewhere. I’m also lucky enough to work with great chefs, and we work with some of the same products. Our style is everything from very aromatic drinks to boozy cocktails and everything in between.
KS: How did you learn the tricks of the mixology industry?
MM: I worked for this company for about seven years, and before that I was a bartender and manager for a company around corner from here. I also staged at Holeman & Finch for a little bit. I did research and am self taught for the most part.
KS: Who are your mentors?
MM: Greg Bess, Jim Meehan of PTD, and Sasha Petraske. Also Michael Gallagher, one of the owners, at Leon’s Full Service. He knows how to treat staff right and do good food.
KS: Where do you get inspiration for your cocktails from?
MM: All over the place: from old cocktail books, from food, from other bartenders, from music, a sense of place, time and seasons.
KS: Where will we find you in five years?
MM: At Kimball Mill, a bar project in Atlanta that I’m working on. It should open in 2012.