Morgan is the essence of cool. She’s the type of girl crushed on by guys and girls for her sleek style, friendly attitude and awesome job. As the Head Bartender at The Fifth Floor, you’ll find her mixing up personalized drinks after giving you a “cocktail consultation,” and inventing drinks that emulate a childhood favorite treat, Pop Rocks. She spends her free time going to shows at Thee Parkside and Great American Music Hall and riding the beach cruiser she won from Fernet. So we’re thankful she can be found behind the bar at The Fifth Floor most nights, because this is one girl we love to hang out with:
SCOUT: What makes the Fifth Floor so rad?
MORGAN: With it being downtown and inside the Hotel Palomar, I think it’s a diamond in the rough that not a ton of people know about. It’s a great downtown escape for drinks and dinner.
SCOUT: Congratulations on carrying the title Head Bartender. What did it take to get there?
MORGAN: The Fifth Floor is a part of the Kimpton Group, which focuses on boutique hotels, luxury travel and chef-driven gourmet restaurants. I was bartending at a Kimpton spot in New York and was asked to come to San Francisco to join the team here. I love what the Kimpton Group does, and was looking for a challenge, so I said yes. So that’s how I got to San Francisco. As far as the title, it takes a lot of practice and getting to intimately know the ingredients you work with. I have a great relationship with Jacques Bezuidenhout, the Master Mixologist for Kimpton's bars, lounges and dining rooms throughout the country. He’s my big boss, he does a great job of positively reinforcing new techniques and education.
SCOUT: What are some of the differences between nightlife in NYC compared to here?
MORGAN: In New York, it’s all about the late night going out. People don’t even think about going out until much later than in San Francisco. People here are more about day activities like taking a bottle of wine to the park.
SCOUT: What’s the best part of your job?
MORGAN: Learning new things and getting to taste along the way. The Fifth Floor recently hosted an even featuring Yamazaki Whisky and I learned about the proper type of ice cube to use by chopping them out of a 300 pound block of ice. Every part of a drink is important, even down to the type and shape of ice. The ice actually helps the spirit open up so you can enjoy the full flavor profile.
SCOUT: If you were stuck on a desert island with one type of liquor, what would it be?
MORGAN: Tequila! There’s so much you can do with it. It’s completely organic and I rarely get a hangover from it.
SCOUT: What bar rules or etiquette do you see people mess up most often?
MORGAN: People talking about religion or politics. The bar should be a place where you can relax and not focus on anything serious. Especially here in a hotel bar, even if you’re not on vacation, you deserve to feel that way, even if it’s just for a little bit.
SCOUT: What’s this we hear about cocktail “consultations?” You mean we can blurt out things we like and you’ll craft a drink based off our tastes?
MORGAN: Sure. If you’re not exactly sure what you’re looking for, I’ll ask you to list some of your favorite spirits and flavors, and I’ll create something I think you’ll like.
SCOUT: Where do you get the inspiration for all the cool drinks you create?
MORGAN: By playing around and trying new things out. Mixology is a lot like cooking. I love making up new creations and testing them out on people. I always want an honest opinion. I like to think of myself as a “Cocktail Whisperer.”
SCOUT: If there was a drink named after you, what would it have in it?
MORGAN: Probably something reminiscent of a gin martini. It would be very spirit forward; maybe a little Beefeater 24, some Lillet and an orange peel, possibly a little bitters. I’d call it the “Swift Kick in the Ass.”
SCOUT: If you weren’t commanding the helm at Fifth Floor, what would you be doing?
MORGAN: Something that involved working with kids. In New York, I was involved in a few different volunteer programs, so I’m looking forward to getting into that again here.
SCOUT: Besides the Fifth Floor, what are your other cocktail spots?
MORGAN: Oh let’s see... Nopa, Rickhouse, Smuggler’s Cove, Rye and Alembic are a few of my favorites. I’ve been in San Francisco seven months, so there’s definitely a lot more I want to explore.