Drunk in Love

Most children, when they are 8, eat unlimited amounts of soda or candy and dream about the lunches that their school cafeteria will serve. Morgaine Segura, at the age of 8, was learning about wine and how to make a Negroni.

Her backyard was a mint-filled playground, and she played with professionals in the industry at her parent’s parties. Her mother worked as a photographer at bars and cocktail contests. It was only natural that Sanctuaria staff would end up at her parents’ house for Derby Day and Fourth of July.

Segura received sommelier instruction from her father, who was taking level 2 classes. Segura explained that her father would bring home a bottle of wine after class and then go through the kitchen cabinets to pull out different herbs and spices. We would have to pick out the scents of the herbs and spices from the containers and then smell the wine. Although she didn’t drink many of these drinks, she grew to appreciate what they represented for her. Segura, a girl of her age, knew that she wanted to become a bartender.

When she was 14, she began working as a dishwasher at Morgan Le Fay’s Tapas bar & lounge in Town and Country. Segura said, “I was like ‘I will do anything’.” I would ask questions on my day off. “I tried to force myself into it, but it was too early for that.” She soon found herself working at a Vermont tap room while attending college, then a brief stint in New York City. It was in St. Louis, however, that she found the door into the big leagues. She began barbacking at The Moonrise Hotel.

Segura remembered, “It was like any bartending fantasy I had.” She observed Seth Wahlman, Charlie Martin, and other bartenders. She learned a lot from them about quality and speed. It was like boot camp. “I thought, ‘Wow, these guys can make drinks really quickly. There are five people in the room, and they’re all making six-touch drinks. I can’t believe it.’ She was overwhelmed, and she felt she would never be as confident or fast as her new mentors. But she persevered. She also became closer to Martin as she gained more confidence. We both definitely had a crush, but it was a long time before we started dating because we didn’t like the idea of dating someone who we worked with. After some time, the couple started dating. They were married in 2017.

Segura, who was still working full-time at Moonrise Restaurant, began hosting at The Libertine in order to learn about cocktails from bartenders such as Ben Bauer and Naomi Roquet. The more eclectic bar at the Clayton restaurant offered Segura new opportunities to refine and develop her skills. Segura stated, “I’ve never worked there as a bartender but I felt like I interviewed a lot of people.” “I used to go there on my days off. [Bauer] taught me how to do things. When it was slow [Roquet] let me try all the spirits.” She would then retire to another location after work to relax and drink. She loved the newly opened Olive + Oak.

“Charlie brought me there on our first date. “I was super confused as to why he took me there and what we were doing so far west,” she laughed. After one trip, she was hooked. Olive + Oak was her go-to hangout after work, as it was the culmination of a mad rush to The Libertine which closed an hour earlier at 9 pm. She and her friends enjoyed chef Jesse Mendica’s New American menu and Chelsea Little’s cocktails.

As she pondered her love for her new favorite restaurant, one day, something clicked. Why not work at Olive + Oak? She applied but became discouraged when no one contacted her. Segura said, “I knew I didn’t receive it, and I thought, ‘Whatever’.” I had been promoted to Moonrise’s bartender six weeks earlier.

She began as a bartender but soon rose to the position of bar supervisor. Segura said, “I’m not sure that I set out to be a manager of a bar.” She said, “I am a bit bossy. I like to be organized.” This position allowed her to consider what type of bar she would run, and she presented some ideas to owner Mark Hinkle. She asked, “Can I, like, make some changes?” He replied, “Ofcourse.”

She wanted to improve consistency and began to create a pedagogy based on her own experiences as a bartender at The Libertine and Moonrise and even her childhood home. She wanted to provide her bartenders with a solid foundation of knowledge and background information for the drinks that they made rather than teach them a menu. She would explain to her bartenders why one bourbon, in particular, was the best option rather than dictating a cocktail’s ingredients. She said, “I am trying to raise another generation bartenders.”

Segura also boosted the staff and convinced Martin to join her at Olive + Oak. She said, “I tried to convince him to start working there as soon as I began.” It’s a wonderful place to work, and I wanted Charlie to experience it. At the Moonrise, there were several bars, and Segura and Martin only worked together for one shift every two weeks. Olive + Oak only had one bar. “I always say it exhilarates my relationship. She said, “We spend all of our time together.”

She knew that her home was not perfect, even though she loved it. The equipment was not working properly, and there were issues with space and seating. The beer drains… There wasn’t a drain. She explained that it was a hole leading to the bottom cooler, where a golf tee was wrapped in plastic. She was happy to hear that Hinkle would be moving Olive + Oak and asking the staff to design the new bar.

Olive + Oak purchased the former Auto Body Specialists Building at 216 W. Lockwood Ave. This 20,000-square-foot complex has room for several new businesses. Plans to partner with Perennial Artisan Ales and add a private events space soon emerged. The new Olive + Oak was opened at the end of June.

Segura stated that the bar team had received a good amount of feedback. They got what they asked for, such as a 24-seater bar, which is twice as large as the previous one, and a huge walk-in refrigerator.

Segura commented, “Everything looks so clean.” The way everything is set up will make it easy for us to do our job, and we can serve 400 cocktails per night if needed.

Segura and Martin continue to fantasize about opening their bar, even though they have a brand-new space in which to play. She speculated, “We’d have a long list of classics and some funky wines, as well as lots of cheese.” She said, “We choose the buildings where our bar will be located.” Her background in finance and his ability to charm customers make Martin a good choice for managing the location. She and her husband are already adept at working together. She said, “It’s cool to not have to censor my self as much.” We can be honest and open with each other. He is like a colleague whom you can trust 100% and who always has your best interests in mind.

She and Martin will have a child one day. She is due in December, but that hasn’t stopped her from embracing the new Olive + Oak and making it hers. Segura’s journey has been a full circle. From a young girl dreaming of gin cocktails and mint gardens to a woman who teaches a fleet of younger bartenders how to make cocktails that she can’t drink. She admitted, “It is a refreshing break.” “I haven’t drunk in a very long time.” It’s a new perspective.” She has certainly earned a rest.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *