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Behind The Stick: Annemarie Sagoi Finds Her Art At The Dawson

By Paul Leddy in Food on Dec 6, 2013 7:00PM


In our “Behind the Stick” series, we have met quite a few bartenders who have talked about working in some area of artistic expression before being bitten by the bartending bug.

Annemarie Sagoi, bar director for The Dawson, pursued her art in the form of furniture making for over ten years. She turned that experience into the construction of drinks at some of the great Chicago drinking establishments like Nightwood, Simone’s, Big Star, and The Charleston.

Why are so many artists drawn to bartending?

"We are essentially creating, but not just as a function - function would be a beer and shot," Sagoi explains. "We are creating something unique, aesthetically pleasing and that is delicious.”

At The Dawson, the venue may be bigger (it can serve 400 people in its three bars) than at her previous bars, but the service and the well-crafted cocktails that she is known for still continues.

Sagoi’s strategy at The Dawson is to have a menu that pairs thoughtfully with the food throughout the meal. While there are some cocktail offerings that are definitely boozy, Sagoi takes alcohol volume into consideration when creating cocktails that pair with food. That way, the guest can try different cocktails with the meal without imbibing too much.

In today’s video, Sagoi demonstrates the making of a cocktail called the Saca Palabras that blends the smoky flavors of Del Maguey Vida Mezcal and the baking spice and nut flavoring in the wine-based amaro called Cardamaro. The cocktail has a lot of fall flavors without being tremendously boozy.

Saca Palabras

1ounce Del Maguey Vida Mezcal
1 ounce Cardamaro
1/2 ounce Noilly Pratt Dry Vermouth
1/4 ounce Clement Creole Shrubb
Angostura bitters
Blackstrap bitters

Add first 4 ingredients to a mixing glass. Express a swath of orange peel over glass and add along with ice. Stir and add bitters before straining cocktail in a glass. Express oils from lemon zest and discard.

Annemarie Sagoi (The Dawson) - Saca Palabras Cocktail from Chicago Cocktail Chronicles on Vimeo.

The Dawson is located at 730 W. Grand Ave.