KEITH MEICHER, Head Bartender
At Chicago’s Michelin-starred Sepia from renowned chef Andrew Zimmerman, Head Bartender Keith Meicher creates cocktails that appeal to a broad audience while maintaining his distinct, innovative, and visually stunning style. “When I’m developing cocktails, I tend to start from the point of aesthetics – I like to make my drinks pretty and attention-grabbing—and then work backwards to create a well-balanced, creatively conceptualized drink that impresses with looks, taste, and charm,” he explains. His craft cocktail menus feature something for everyone, combining premium spirits and fresh ingredients into a diverse miscellany of libations.
While his cocktails represent lofty mixology standards, Meicher remains humbly focused on his guests, avoiding the pretension typically associated with craft cocktails. “Our bartenders have an in-depth knowledge of products, an acutely refined palate, and a creative skillset, but their primary goal is making guests feel welcome and appreciated,” Meicher explains. “With hundreds of bars to choose from, it’s our role to show guests that they made the best choice, through service, presentation, and quality.”
Growing up in the Chicago suburb of Niles, IL, Meicher fostered a love and a knack for playing music. After graduating from Lake Zurich High School, he attended Northern Illinois University to study music performance, specifically jazz saxophone. After college, Meicher gave private music lessons and spent many nights at The Whistler, a cocktail bar and performance venue in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. Among individuals that matched his fascination with music and opened his eyes to the world of cocktails, Meicher found himself with a new passion and, soon, a new career path.
The Whistler turned him onto cocktails, but Maude’s Liquor Bar gave him his start in April of 2012, as a server. After seven months spent learning everything he could about Maude’s food and drink programs, he took an entry-level bar position at Scofflaw, the trend-setting, gin-centric cocktail and craft beer bar in Logan Square. Scofflaw provided Meicher with a comprehensive education in the workings of a bar and the trappings of a successful craft bartender, and four years later, he possessed the necessary skillset and creative urge to strike out and develop his own cocktail program.
In the fall of 2016, Griffin Elliot – then the head bartender at Sepia, and a friend and former colleague of Meicher’s at Scofflaw – informed Meicher that he was leaving the restaurant. Simultaneously, one of Sepia’s bartenders – whom Meicher had previously trained as a bar back at Scofflaw – suggested Meicher for the vacant position. With glowing recommendations, Meicher presented his skills and ideas to Sepia’s leadership, and took the title of head bartender that November. After settling in behind the bar, he introduced an all-new cocktail menu showcasing his imaginative ingenuity through drinks with broad appeal, yet exciting, experimental constructions and aesthetics.
When he is not behind the bar at Sepia, Meicher continues to pursue the ever-evolving food and drink scene throughout Chicago by trying every new addition. He also enjoys attending local comedy shows, especially at Improv Olympic, and playing the variety of instruments that adorns his Ukrainian Village home, focusing primarily on guitar and piano.