San Francisco hot-spot Bar Agricole, located in the Soma District, has an acclaimed bartending program that creates a family-like atmosphere in this cutthroat industry, says Seth Beale, master mixologist and member of the Bar Agricole family.
Beale’s journey into mixology all started in Columbus, Ohio, where he was born and raised. While in college for Comparative Religion, he learned about how multinational corporations have coerced the federal government into allowing them to control the food systems, at home and abroad. In order to restore his sense of hope, Beale left academia to go work on a farm, where for an entire season, he spent his days tending to beautiful fruits, vegetables and flowers, recovering his sense of wonder of the Earth and its bounty.
While working on the farm, Beale would visit the fine dining restaurants that served his produce; and after tasting what the chefs were able to create, it blossomed a desire to work in the restaurant industry.
Soon thereafter, Seth was in San Francisco working as a barista at The Slanted Door, where he met Thad Vogler, the mixologist behind Beretta, Bourbon and Branch and Camino. Thad offered to take Beale under his wing, and the rest is mixology history. After helping with the opening of the bar program at Camino in Oakland, when Thad asked Beale to be a part of the Bar Agricole family, Seth jumped at the opportunity. SOMA took a moment to ask the mixologist a few questions.
How did you get started in the industry?
I was a busboy at a restaurant in Ohio called Braddock’s. Upon Arriving in San Francisco, I was hired as a barista at The Slanted Door. In 2008 I began tending bar at Camino restaurant in Oakland, and I have worked at Bar Agricole since we opened in August of 2010.
What is it about your profession that you enjoy?
As a bartender, I get to use my skills and attentiveness to serve others. Early on in my life, I learned that serving other people, paying attention to their needs and preferences, was what it looked like: to be loving. Tending bar allows me opportunities to be loving to others, and it is joyful for me.
What is your drink of choice?
A Manhattan made with rye whiskey.
Where do you think the industry is going?
In the long term, I think that the industry will continue to move toward small, local distilleries and the use of locally grown ingredients. The planet likely can’t sustain shipping food and drink thousands of miles for many more decades.
What is it about Bar Agricole that makes the drink program so special?
At Bar Agricole, we aim to treat our guests as if they have come over to our house for drinks. We are proud of the choices we make regarding ingredients, glassware, ice, technique, service, everything. Our owners lead the way to achieve this, and we are a staff who eagerly enacts this vision every day.
- Cathy Lee