Bartender MEET

‘SPEND MORE TIME LISTENING AND LESS TIME TALKING’ SAYS JESSI LORRAINE – BON VOYAGE, SAN FRANCISCO

"When I was learning how to bartend I kept a small notebook in my pocket every day and anytime someone asked me a question or about a spirit or cocktail and I didn’t have a good or correct answer for them, I would write it in my notebook and make sure I didn’t come back to work not knowing the answer to that question.” - Meet Jessi Lorraine from San Francisco’s Bon Voyage bar.

Bon Voyage –584 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Jessi Lorraine just gets hospitality. Not just in the functionally obvious way either, but the DNA of it, it’s purpose, its context and its unrivaled ability to truly make someone’s day if delivered right. Of course, it all makes perfect sense; along with her discerning wisdom and natural whimsy – just looking at her you can tell she’s a force to be reckoned with, but Jessi has also practically lived and breathed the art of service since she was young.

“My mother worked in hospitality my entire upbringing, so I spent a lot of time running around restaurants and hanging out in supply rooms. Hospitality to me is all about sharing kindness and experiences.” she says.

Born in San Francisco and currently a bartender at SF’s new tropical disco flavored bar, Bon Voyage, Jessi has been owning her post at bars and restaurants for over 10 years.

“I was born in San Francisco and grew up mostly there and in Pacifica 10 minutes south of SF. I attended college in SF and a year ago moved to Oakland.”

Admittedly, I have a recurring habit of wanting to be best friends with all my bartenders, but Jessi is exactly the type of someone you’d like to be served by slash friends with. All irreverent confidence accessorized by sincerity. Plus she’s a seasoned hospitality professional and also a bit of a deep thinker, which as a team that spends a lot of time in our own heads at MTP, we’re very down with.

Jessi Lorraine

“I would really love to see the ego removed from bartending and a grand return to the importance of service,” says Jessi.

“I think the cocktail world has been very actively diving through every nook and cranny of spirits and cocktail and tools, and there isn’t as much emphasis and education on basic service standards. The act of genuinely tending a bar is very different than being good at making cocktails. Do your guests feel welcomed? Do they feel happy? Is that your priority in setting foot behind the bar? These are things I think about a lot.”

And in the era of sophisticated consumer knowledge, Jessi also believes it’s time we see the opening of an industry wide dialogue about what hospitality truly means for guests.

“The cocktail world is at an all time high, and I’ve been to so many remarkable bars with amazing and inspired programs, but I find it’s more often that I get a great cocktail and less often that I get stellar service. Making great cocktails isn’t enough anymore for the 21st century guest, and I’d love to find concrete ways to help raise that bar industry-wide.”

But, it’s her modus operandi that draws me to her the most. If you want to learn from her, and I suggest you do, whip out a pen people and take some notes.

“Learn as much as you can! Knowledge is power. Do more listening than you do talking. When I was learning how to bartend I kept a small notebook in my pocket every day and anytime someone asked me a question or about a spirit or cocktail and I didn’t have a good or correct answer for them, I would write it in my notebook and make sure I didn’t come back to work not knowing the answer to that question.”

Jessi Lorraine’s Top 3 Bar and Restaurants

ABV! (San Francisco) Anyone who knows me knows this is like my second home. It’s really the best example you can find in the Bay Area of what the future of neighborhood bars should look like. Outstanding “bar” food that is served until late in the evening, great drinks (ask for pineapple sherry), attentive, friendly, genuine staff. No bullshit.

NOPA (San Francisco)- when it comes to drinking, I am a minimalist. The more ingredients in a cocktail the less likely I am to order it. NOPA’s bar program as well as their food have always been top notch, seasonally driven, and thoughtful. And again, some of the most consistently enjoyable service I’ve experienced in San Francisco. Plus I’m a slut for a well made espresso martini.

Ramen Shop (Oakland) – Cozy, California produce inspired ramen with a beautiful, thoughtful spirits selection and wonderfully balanced cocktails. There’s no better place in the Bay Area to get both a great cocktail and an amazing bow of ramen. The staff is crazy friendly and really warm to anyone who comes through their doors. Plus, they keep a St. George  Baller Highball of the menu, so that with a bowl of miso ramen and I am the happiest camper.


If you’d like us to come meet you or someone from your team – please email brittany@meetthepeople.co


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s