Shannon Tebay

Meet the woman leading the team at one of the world's best bars

It's won World's Best Bar more times than we can remember, and now after a year of being closed, The American Bar at The Savoy is getting ready to reopen, and it's got a new bad-ass female calling the shots.

 

Who are you and where do you call home?

My name is Shannon Tebay and I'm originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, but home for me has since become New York City where I've lived for the last 12 years.  

You’ve just been appointed as the first female Head Bartender of The Savoy’s American Bar in almost a century, and the first American Head Bartender since the bar’s opening in the late 1800’s – the biggest of congratulations on the new position! What are you looking forward to most about putting on the infamous white jacket and working in London’s oldest surviving cocktail bar?

I'm so proud to be taking on this new role and delighted to continue to represent women of hospitality in such a prestigious setting. It is the responsibility of hospitality leaders to make positive changes in our industry, and I'm looking forward to making an effort to giving a voice to under-represented members of the bartending community. 

We imagine you’re going to make your mark on this iconic bar - What do you think that is going to look like? Do you have any grand plans for the menus you and your team are going to create?

Both bartending and going to bars should be enjoyable! I think it's possible to honor the traditions and reverence of the past while not being afraid to modernize the culture. I want our menus to be innovative and creative, but ultimately accessible and fun for our guests.  

You’re leaving your role as Head Bartender at New York’s Death & Company to start this new role in London – what are you going to miss most about working in New York?

More than anything I'm going to miss my incredible Death & Co. team. After working together to reshape our vision throughout the pandemic phase, the bonds we fostered were deeper than ever. I rest easy knowing that the bar is in the hands of a strong and tenacious group of individuals. That said, I couldn't be more excited to start building a new team of talented staff at the American Bar. 

How do you think the bar scenes differ in each of these legendary cities?

Honestly, I'm excited to find out! New York is undoubtedly an international drinking destination, but access to London from Europe at large draws such an incredibly diverse international crowd. I'm thrilled at the opportunity to be thoroughly exposed to the drinking culture and traditions of the global community. 

What is your favourite cocktail and where’s your favourite place in the world to order it?

My favorite cocktail is a gin martini with a lemon twist, and my favourite place to order it is sitting in front of storied bartender Phil Ward at Long Island Bar in Brooklyn, NY.

What’s the most bad-ass/rock n roll bartending moment you’ve ever had?

The moment when the Death & Co bartender roster tipped in such a way as to have more females on staff than ever before is a day I'm very proud of. I made an effort in my hiring practices to show the world what a team of strong women could do, and seeing people take notice always gave me joy. Guests commenting on how remarkable it was to see two women behind the stick together at such an iconic cocktail bar was always affirming, even though the sight shouldn't be so surprising. 

Are there any bars in the world you’re desperate to go to but haven’t made it to yet?

I'd jump at the opportunity to explore the amazing cocktail scene in Asia. It's one of my biggest gaps in knowledge and I'm anxious to learn more about it. 

What’s your favourite cocktail to make and why?

My favorite cocktail to make is, in all honesty, whatever cocktail that will make the guest in front of me the happiest. The joy quotient of bartending should be a product of the guests’ enjoyment more so than the technical execution of any drink in particular.  

Who in the biz do you always hope you’ll bump into when you’re out for a drink?

I always love to cross paths with one of my mentors and fellow Death & Co alumni, Jillian Vose. As an industry vet and colleague, she has inspired me in countless ways, but when we're together on the other side of the bar we always manage to have a great time.  

If you weren’t tending bar, what do you think you would be doing?

Before becoming a bartender, my professional endeavours included wedding photography, painting & drawing, and French pastry. Every job that’s ever grabbed me is both creative and tactile. If I wasn’t bartending I guarantee I’d still be making something with my hands, and it would likely be in the food and beverage sector in some capacity. 

What three bottles would you take with you to a desert island?

As prudent as it would be to simply bring three bottles of water, I’d be tempted to bring Siembra Valles Ancestral Tequila, Springbank 15yr Scotch, and Habitation Velier WP 2007 Jamaican Rum.  

Do you have a hangover cure?

Prevention is the best medicine! I try to practice mindful and moderate drinking, first and foremost to be more present and engaged with my friends and loved ones. The resulting minimal hangover is a fringe benefit.  

If you were gonna create a cocktail for BarChick, what would you make?

I'd make a Daiquiri in which the base was split between Agricole Rhum and pear brandy (aka a Shanimal Style daiquiri), and I'd make two of them so we could enjoy them together. 

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