Dean James of Peccadillo - Biography

Carrboro, NC

November 2013

Born in Los Angeles and practically growing up in his family’s Mediterranean restaurant, Dean James has always been curious about flavor combinations and ethnic traditions. While studying film in San Diego, James subsidized his income by working in restaurants, and was immediately drawn to the bar. Finding that he very much enjoyed the industry and the culture (and the hours), he moved to San Francisco with an eye toward making bartending his profession.

In 2006, he met Dave McLean and helped open The Alembic Bar, thus beginning his career as a serious cocktailian. His time behind the stick at the now-venerable craft cocktail bar honed his skill and his appreciation of “the art of the bar,” particularly the role of the bartender as showman. In 2011, James joined the crew at El Take It Easy in San Diego, heading up a bar program based around Tijuana’s rich drinking history during the Prohibition era.

When a chance to swap coasts presented itself in 2012, James settled in North Carolina and teamed up with Tim Neill (of Employees Only fame) at Peccadillo in Carrboro. Neill and James have distilled their craft down to a small menu of carefully chosen cocktails that showcase the subtlety and flavor range of each ingredient in their drinks. In 2013, Bar Lusconi opened in downtown Durham as a continuation of the principles found at Peccadillo, with the focus on small production wines and craft beer. Later that year, James earned a StarChefs Rising Star Mixologist Award for his work at Peccadillo.