Bartending is an art that requires a unique combination of technical skills, creativity and social finesse. It’s a profession that demands a deep understanding of customer service, mixology and hospitality. Sean Norris, the dapper dude behind the bar at the popular new hotspot Lewes Oyster House, has all these qualities and more.
As an artist and musician first, he found his way into bartending via a diverted career path from engineering in pursuit of the arts and a need to make money. “I fell in love with bartending because I knew it was something I could get great at – there’s a depth to it and it’s incredibly difficult.”
In the beginning, he was working in five different bars until he found somewhere he could be creative. His good friends Sean Corea and Tommy Little, co-owners of LOH, called him up to bring him on board. Norris was an integral part of its opening, writing the cocktail menu and even getting his hands dirty with renovations. “This was my first menu from scratch for a restaurant,” he says. “I tailored it all summer until we opened in October.”
Here, we get to know the man behind the bar as he divulges his tips for elevating your summer gathering experience.
What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
My second art is music; I’m the music director for Developing Artist Collaboration and I handle all the bookings. I’ve been with them for about four years now. It’s how I keep myself sustained artistically. I’m also pretty active. I’ve turned into a runner and I’m a rock climber.
Where is your fave spot to grab a drink in town?
Nantuckets in Fenwick. It’s a cozy spot with great food. I also like Pig & Publican – they have a ridiculously good beer selection.
What is the “right” way to get a bartender’s attention?
Eye contact. It’s the mutually agreed upon signal. It means I see you, but I may not be able to get to you in the next five seconds, but I got you. Also, get off your phone.
What is your #1 tip for starting to make cocktails at home?
Get a book that focuses on principles and technique. Liquid Intelligence is a good one. Get good tools. And for the love of God, get good ice. The minerals in ice made from unfiltered water can completely change the taste of your cocktail.
What are your picks for bartender-approved drinks for a cookout or to sip poolside?
You don’t want to go too boozy. Make it approachable and easy – like a daiquiri, which only requires a few ingredients.
- 2 oz. Rhum Agricole
- .75 oz Lime Juice
- +/- .75 oz Simple Syrup
Combine all ingredients with a full tin of ice. Shake for 10-12 seconds. Strain into a stemmed glass. Garnish with a lime.