Duggan McDonnell
244 Jackson St.
San Francisco
(415) 956-3004

Biography »

Amy Tarr: What drew you to restaurants and in particular, to mixology?
Duggan McDonnell: I was poor and wanted to eat! I took a job as an elevator operator at Space Needle in Seattle because I knew they’d feed me on the job! As far as mixology goes, the love for beverage has always been there. I try to make it go away, but it doesn’t. It’s sort of a neurosis more than a passion sometimes!

AT: Who’s your mixology mentor?
DMD: Paul Brown – he’s a lifetime bartender at Wild Ginger in Seattle. He encouraged the development of my mixology and beverage palate. He’s an old-school guy who knew how to put different components together.

AT: What are some current trends you’ve seen in the cocktail market?
DMD: I don’t follow trends.

AT: What goes into creating a new cocktail? How long does it take to create a new cocktail?
DMD: You have to approach making a new cocktail with an open mind; make lists of what works and what doesn’t as you experiment. Sometimes inspiration comes in a moment, and you work everything out in your head. Sometimes it takes weeks of trial and error, weeks of mixing and shaking.

AT: Tell about your fascination with essential oils in your cocktails.
DMD: I got interested in them for healing and aromatherapy, like most people. Then I discovered that you can use them in cocktails. It allows you to create very focused, intense flavors in a cocktail. This may just be a phase. I’m open to that. I treat my bar like a kitchen. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work to it. My guests really love the unique flavors and experiences I give them.

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Duggan McDonnell
FRISSON | San Francisco

Duggan McDonnell has been a fixture on the west coast beverage scene for the past ten years and is finally getting the recognition he deserves. According to McDonnell, currently the Bar Manger of Frisson, his interest in mixology is more a neurosis than a passion. Previous San Francisco haunts include the Repastoria Satyricon, the bars at the Clift Hotel, and Mecca. For the past two years, he has also been a contributor to SOMA magazine, writing on cocktails, wine, nightlife and travel, in additional to developing signature cocktails for readers. Among his preferred mixology techniques is the use of essential oils that result in very focused, intense flavors. Currently his favorite cocktail to drink is the mojito – the sexiest drink on the planet, says McDonnell.


Pernod El Camino Real
Bar Chef Duggan McDonnell of Frisson – San Francisco, CA
Adapted by StarChefs.com

Yield: 1 Serving


  • 1 ounce Pernod
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 1/2 ounces Frapin Grande Champagne V.S. Cognac
  • 3/4 ounce Limoncello
  • Squeeze of 1/2 lime
  • Splash of fresh orange juice
  • Dash of simple syrup


Swirl Pernod around the sides of a cocktail glass. Combine remaining ingredients in a mixing pint over ice. Shake vigorously and strain into the cocktail glass. Garnish with a fan of orange.


Fountain of Youth
Bar Chef Duggan McDonnell of Frisson – San Francisco, CA
Adapted by StarChefs.com

Yield: 1 Serving


  • 1¾ ounces Hangar One Kaffir Lime Vodka
  • 1 ounce Cointreau
  • 1 ounce cucumber-honeydew melon puree
  • ¼ ounce essence of spearmint simple syrup


Pour ingredients over ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a vibrant rose petal.


Interview Cont'd
AT: What is your favorite cocktail to make? To drink?
DMD:To make, the Sidecar. It’s a classic cocktail that also appeals to the contemporary palate. You can use all different kinds of brandies, with or without a sugared rim. You can serve it up or on the rocks. To drink, currently the mojito is the sexiest drink on the planet. You get a couple mojitos in people, and they just want to get it on. It’s an aphrodisiac.

AT: Where do you see yourself in five years?
DMD: A variety of entrepreneurial experiences. Restaurant ownership, beverage consultation, cocktail book writing – these are all extensions of what I’m doing now. I’m also in the writing program and USF – my emphasis is fiction.

AT: Anything else you’d like to add?
DMD: The great American cocktail is always being reinvented. Drinking is a great art. So is the art of creating new cocktails, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.


   Published: October 2005