We asked our female bar managers, bar owners and bartenders about their experiences in the hospitality industry. We also asked them to share a cocktail using a female-led ingredient from the Craft Spirits portfolio. Here, Alicia Walton from the Sea Star Bar in San Francisco shares her thoughts with us.
As a woman, I feel genuinely supported by the bar community in San Francisco and this neighborhood. Being an owner has been such an eye-opening experience – it’s a non-stop hustle. After the thick of the pandemic and after seeing how much it took for bars to get through it, the community has become stronger and more bonded. Before the pandemic, there was a common ground that we were standing on, but that’s crumbling. My maternal side has definitely come out because of all this turmoil. I’m proud to have such a good staff.
One of the bigger challenges I’ve faced as a business owner is being financed. Even with owning rental property and having great credit, I found it hard to get a loan, and I had some initial trouble finding the right partners to do business with. I can’t speak more fondly of the community in Dogpatch – I wanted to bring people in and continue to build community. I love being able to introduce regulars to each other, watching them become friends, watching them become family. They are the people who helped us make it through the pandemic by buying bottles and food even if they didn’t need it. They really supported us.
Anyone can make a great cocktail, but we wanted to have a good atmosphere, to be the place where you could come to see a friendly face. That’s the best accomplishment I can achieve: brining people together. I feel very lucky this neighborhood fosters such a great family.
I love that we have a prominent female community in San Francisco. Women don’t get a lot of push back, and I know it’s not like that everywhere. We are lucky. I hope other cities rise to the same level as us, with more women opening distilleries, more female brand ambassadors and more women running programs. I love to see other women crushing it, rising up and making their voices heard.
I wanted to work with Xila as an ingredient, and I wanted to get a little weird. I thought, ‘What would pair well with spice?’ I was playing around with both banana and ginger, and banana won out.
1oz Highland Park Scotch Whiskey
¾ Giffard Banana
¼ piment ( pepper Syrup )
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake. Double strain over a large cube in a rocks glass and garnish with a banana leaf and dried chili.
About Alicia Walton
The leading lady of The Sea Star, Alicia Walton, crafts the drinks and curates the spirits. She is the 2016 StarChefs Rising Star and 2017 San Francisco Chronicle Bar Star.
Sea Star Bar is located at 2289 3rd St. in the Dog Patch neighborhood of San Francisco. Visit their website here.