At the age of eight years old, they’re drinking endless amounts of candy and soda and dreaming about what their school cafeteria will offer for lunch. At the age of 8, Morgaine Segura began to explore wine and was able to master the art of making the Negroni.
It was her minty backyard, and her dates with friends were professionals from the industry at their parents’ events. She was the mother of a photographer who worked for cocktail and bar contests, so it seemed natural that the staff of Sanctuaria would end up at the Seguras at their home during Derby Day and the Fourth of July.
Alongside the celebrations, Segura was receiving sommelier training from her father, who was attending level 2 classes. “He would bring a bottle of wine home after his class and he would go through our kitchen cabinets and pull out a bunch of different spices and herbs,” Segura stated. “We had to look through and identify what smells we could detect in the wine using the spice and herb containers. I frequently use those skills.” Although she was not a drinker in the majority of these drinks, she came to recognize what they were to her. As a lot of kids her age were choosing to be firefighters or astronauts, Segura knew she wanted to become a bartender.
She began her career as a dishwasher in Morgan Le Fay’s Tapas Bar and Lounge located in Town and Country when she was 14. “I was like, ‘I’ll do anything,'” Segura stated. “I would visit during my off time to ask questions. I tried to get into the industry but I was just too young to be doing this.” After a while, she began working in a taproom in Vermont as she was enrolled in college. The next step was a brief period of working in New York City. However, it was to St. Louis that she was able to officially enter the top of the league: working as a barback at The Moonrise Hotel.
“It was kind of like any fantasy that I had about bartending,” Segura recounted. “It was fast-paced – a party bar.” While working, she watched bartenders Seth Wahlman and Charlie Martin. As she watched them, she was able to take lessons on efficiency and high quality. It was like a boot camp. “I was thinking, ‘Alright, these guys are creating incredible drinks, and they’re doing it so fast. There’s a five-deep bar right now and they’re putting out six-touch cocktails. I’m not convinced.'” She was overwhelmed and worried she might never be as quick or as confident as her new instructors, but she remained. With her confidence growing as she grew, she also came to get to know Martin more intimately. “I think we were in love with one another however it took us a while to realize that due to the fact that we didn’t want meet someone we worked with. We tried to avoid it for long.” However, after around eight months of dating, the couple started dating. They got married in the year 2017.
While working full-time at the Moonrise, Segura also began hosting events at The Libertine to study cocktails with bartenders, including Ben Bauer and Naomi Roquet. The Clayton restaurant’s more eclectic bar gave her the chance to explore and sharpen her abilities. “I never bartended there, but I feel like I interviewed them a lot,” Segura explained. “I would visit during my off days. I would be taught by [Bauer] how he works. We’d have for Sunday brunch, and if it was slow, “Roquetwould allow me to try every spirit.” In the evening, she’d go out to unwind and sip. Her preferred restaurant was, at the time, the newly-opened Olive + Oak.
“Charlie was the one who took me there during one of the dates we first had. I was completely confused about the reason for him to take me out to the County and what we were doing so far from the east,” she said with a smile. However, after a short visit, she was completely sold. Olive + Oak became her regular hangout post-shift and was the final stop of a frantic crowd from The Libertine, which closed at 9 pm Just an hour prior to the Webster Groves hot spot. She and her pals were able to enjoy Jesse Mendica’s lively New American menu and sip drinks from the bartender, Chelsea Little.
A few days ago, when she thought about the love she has for her new favorite restaurant, there was a moment that clicked. If she loved Olive + Oak so much, then why not join the restaurant? The application was completed, and she was disappointed when no one contacted her. “I knew that I didn’t get it and I was like, ‘Whatever,'” Segura expressed her feelings sadly. “I had moved up to bartender at Moonrise.” Six months later, the telephone was ringing.
She started as a bartender for Olive + Oak but quickly rose to the rank of bar manager. “I don’t know that I ever set out wanting to be a bar manager,” Segura said. “I’m maybe a little bit bossy and I naturally want to organize things.” The job offered her the freedom to consider what sort of establishment she would like to run, and she approached the owner, Mark Hinkle, with some ideas. “Can I be OK to, like, change some stuff?” she asked him. “Of course,” he replied.
She was determined to include more measures of consistency. She began developing a method of teaching for bar staff that was based on her own experiences at The Moonrise, The Libertine, as well as her home from childhood before that. Instead of educating her bartenders on a menu, she wanted to teach them the foundational knowledge they needed and a background to the drinks they were creating. Instead of teaching her bartenders a specific cocktail’s listing of components, say she would explain the reasons why a particular whiskey was the most appropriate option. “I’m trying to help raise another generation of bartenders,” she stated.
Segura also bolstered the staff, including convincing Martin to move to Olive + Oak. “I tried to get him to work there pretty much as soon as I started,” she said. “It’s a great place to work and I wanted Charlie to experience that too.” At the time of Moonrise, Segura and Martin did not work together at least once a week since there were several bars. However, Olive + Oak had one tiny bar. “I always say it energizes our relationship. We are always in one place,” she said.
While she was thrilled with her new house, she was aware that it was not the perfect home. There were some problems regarding the equipment and space, as well as the seating was small. “The beer was drained… it was no drain. It was just a hole which led directly to the bottom of the cooler, which contained a golf tee encased in plastic wrap,” she explained. Then she took it as a good sign when Hinkle said he was planning to move Olive + Oak to a new location and asked staff members to assist in designing the new bar.
Olive + Oak bought the old Auto Body Specialists building at 216 W. Lockwood Ave. It is a huge, 20,000-square-foot complex that has room for several establishments. In the near future, plans to build a private space for events and join forces with Perennial Artisan Ales in a Brewpub were announced. The brand new Olive + Oak opened at the close of June.
olive + oak bar manager Morgaine segura
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“We had a pretty decent amount of input,” Segura stated, and the bar team received a lot of what they wanted, such as the addition of a bar with 24 seats – double larger than the old one – as well as a huge walk-in cooler.
“Everything is so pristine,” Segura declared. “The way that everything is set up is just going to make it so easy for us to do our jobs, and so possible for us to put out 400 cocktails a night, if that’s what we need to do.” Today, when the customers are five deep drinking six-touch drinks, she’s the one that the bartenders around are looking at.
Even with a brand-new area to play, Segura and Martin still talk about the possibility of having their bar someday. “We would have a big list of classics, some funky wine, lots of cheese,” she said. “We pick out buildings that our bar would go into all the time.” Martin’s financial background, coupled with his charisma with patrons, makes him a guaranteed success at managing the establishment. In addition, Martin and her husband have mastered the art of working together. “I think it’s really cool to feel like I don’t have to censor myself as much,” she explained. “We are able to be honest and open to each other. He’s like a friend whom you trust completely and will always have your best interests in his mind.” However, despite all the uncertainties, Segura is sure of two things: No matter where she goes, she’ll need to be at the bar all week, and Martin will open an establishment “one day in the near future.”