Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 2012
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Pool and Lobby Lounge Bartender, Four Seasons Hotel Austin
- Barton Creek Resort, Austin, Texas
- Kennebunk, Maine, USA
- Lynchburg College (Virginia), Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design
Seeing bartender Sarah Rahl’s tattoos is like getting a glimpse into the young bartender’s life story. There’s the colourful compass pointing north, flanked by images of a lighthouse, sailboats and the word “Kennebunk,” all reminders of her Maine roots. An airplane flies across her upper shoulder in a fond flashback to European travel adventures, while a simple Texas outline touts her love for the Lone Star state. Finally a Negroni on the back or her right arm represents not only her favourite cocktail, but a career path that’s as much a part of her as her six tattoos.
While the ink may be indelible now, Sarah’s future as a bartender wasn’t always a foregone conclusion. Originally a graphic design student at Virginia’s Lynchburg College, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2007 only to find design work was sparse in the foundering economy. Ever resourceful, she found a job coaching lacrosse at a high school outside of Boston, which set her on the road to a graduate degree in sports psychology. But that, too, was not meant to be, and just shy of graduation in 2009 she moved to Austin on a whim.
In need of a livelihood, she fell back on the hospitality experience she’d gained working in fine dining restaurants during her summers in Maine. “I’ve always been drawn to this industry because it’s never the same day twice,” says Sarah.
Within weeks, she landed at Austin’s Barton Creek Resort as a server and bartender. The latter role gave her an outlet for her inherent creativity, and she soon became the go-to bartender for new and imaginative cocktails at the resort.
In 2012, Sarah moved across town to Four Seasons Hotel Austin as a bartender for its pool and bar. Self-taught up to that point, she was encouraged by managers to pursue more formalised training. She tackled the task with gusto, energised by the thought that she’d finally found her passion, and began enrolling in classes, attending tastings and participating in seminars put on by the US Bartender’s Guild.
Her hard work paid off in 2017 when Sarah was selected as a finalist in Cochon 555’s “Punch Kings” competition, an event that would take her to the Chicago finals and pit her against talented bartenders from 10 other US cities. Though she didn’t win the ultimate prize for her drink – her first using a siphon – she left Chicago with newfound confidence and inspiration for even more creative cocktails.
“I love doing something guests haven’t seen before,” says Sarah, whose creations since Cochon have included a colour-changing drink featuring butterfly pea tea and a flaming cocktail made with mezcal and charcoal.
But she’s not just in it for the dramatic effect; ultimately she wants her drinks to be fun, approachable and successful sellers: “Being able to translate the creative vision I have in my head into a glass that I’m proud of, and then have it sell really well, is incredibly rewarding for me.”
When she’s not slinging drinks behind the Live Oak bar, Sarah enjoys spending time with her dog Nala, rooting on the Patriots and supporting Austin’s up-and-coming craft beer scene as an investor in Lazarus Brewing.