Danny Louie is a creative and mellow force known for his work at The Alembic where he is the Bar Manager. Louie is a San Francisco native and lives in Dogpatch with his wife Lisa Louie, a makeup artist & wardrobe stylist. The couple have two cats: Mao & Django.
Danny says he was raised in an inspirational and innovative environment. His family immigrated from China -- his mother was a seamstress and his father was a bartender and chef. His initial career path focused on pursuing fashion and interior design but he became interested in the food and beverage industry once he started working at the Hotel Sofitel in Redwood Shores. As the head bartender he was able to delve into the craft and history of cocktail making. In 2008 Danny helped open two restaurant hot spots in San Francisco: Dosa & Prospect. He then found a home at The Alembic.
He also teamed up with Ethan Terry, Brandon Josie & Tim Zohn to form Cocktail Lab, a collaboration between bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts focused on bringing together interactive and innovative cocktail techniques and ideas. Danny was also involved in designing the beverage program for the Stag Dining Group, an underground pop-up. In 2011 he cofounded Tomkat Asian Street food truck. Bay Area Bites caught up with Danny recently and his comments have been edited for length and clarity.
Bay Area Bites: You have a background in design via fashion and home décor and your father was a bartender and chef here in the Bay Area. How does that creativity come into play at work and in your life?
Louie: I approach everything I do, be it at work or play, with a vision of how it will play out. I see it before it materializes and that is my creative process. My upbringing and surroundings heavily influenced my approach to life. That rich cultural tapestry is present in my work. In my building of a cocktail I envision an entire sensory experience: flavor combinations, texture, temperature, as well as experiences and memories.
Bay Area Bites: Do you have any tips handed down from your folks or your wife Lisa?
Louie: The greatest advice I have gotten from my parents and strangely it is the same from my wife, is to keep an open mind, to slow down and appreciate all of the "little" influences around you. You should observe and then make it your own.