Rising Star Bartender Will Thompson of Jaguar Sun - Biography

Miami, FL

February 2021

Despite his Quaker upbringing, bars have always attracted Will Thompson. At the high school parties where he informally bartended, whiskey sours replaced beer, just as Thompson introduces unfamiliar drinks to Miamians today. Originally from the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, he knocked around in cafes until he turned 21. With a fake-it-til-you-make-it philosophy, the underqualified Thompson graduated to serving at The Independent and fibbed his way into bartending at a Moroccan restaurant. 

A 2009 barback gig at Barbara Lynch’s award-winning cocktail bar, Drink, turned into four years of working through bar positions alongside Misty Kalkofen and Rising Stars alumni John Gertsen and Ezra Star. Thompson also ran into future business partner Chef Carey Hynes, who hung out at Drink. The next several years were marked by stints at Lone Star Taco Bar, Deep Ellum, Brick & Mortar, and No. 9 Park, as well as consulting around the country. (He was an ambassador for The Bon Vivants, a national cocktail consultancy founded by Rising Stars alums Scott Baird and Josh Harris.)

As beverage director for COJE Management Group in 2015, Thompson helped put Boston projects Yvonne’s, Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar, and Ruka on the map. By 2017, he relocated to New York as Grand Marnier’s full-time brand ambassador. But a year of travelling to bars around the world helped Thompson recognize Miami’s potential opportunities. So he moved again to launch his very own Jaguar Sun bar and restaurant with Hynes. With recognitions from Eater Boston, Boston Magazine, and Food & Wine under his belt, Thompson has carved Jaguar Sun into a must-try tropical bar paired with Italian bites, recognized as Eater Miami’s 2018 Bar of the Year. Since June, Jaguar Sun has been stationed at Lot 6 in Little River as the pop-up Sunny’s Someday Steakhouse, where Thompson flexes his creativity with bright, bold twists on the classics.