This Spring Sarah Rosner celebrates 20 years as a proud member of the DC hospitality community. Rosner was born and raised in South Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii (Konawaeana-WHEA grad). After high school, her desire to travel and experience the world led her to the Mainland and finally, landed her in Washington, DC. In her epic tenure in the District, Rosner has grown and changed along with its hospitality industry. She waitressed/cocktailed until she was old enough to bartend at the dive bar she worked at, opened new nightlife hot spots, left to complete an English/Creative Writing degree at UNC–Chapel Hill, and then came right back to bartending at DC’s top craft cocktail bars. Rosner bartended at many well-known DC bars: Townhouse Tavern, all over the Hilton Empire; for Derek Brown at Eat the Rich; Copycat; and Jack Rose.
For the last five-plus years, Rosner has been running and managing high-end hotel bar programs. She realized her love for the hotels industry while working for the Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group. In the summer of 2018, Rosner was recruited to be the first woman to run the bar at the flagship Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in the United States (Georgetown,DC).
In the Spring of 2020, while furloughed from Four Seasons, at the request of an in-law, Rosner began offering virtual cocktail classes to family, friends, and her “regulars.” By the end of 2020, she established Swill Merchants Co. It is now her focus and joy.
“I get to be creative, forever learning, on my feet, engaged in my community, doing what I love. The name, Swill Merchants Co., reminds me that, absolutely, my career is serious; guest engagement, knowledge, storytelling, hospitality, and the passion and genuine care I have in and of my craft are serious. Though, I must always remember, in the end, I’m just a Swill Merchant.”
Rosner is also active in the DC Craft Bartender’s Guild and as a community mentor. She also is a fierce competitor: winner of the 2015 DCCBG’s first annual Cocktail Queen Competition; 3rd place in the 2015 DC Battle for the Boiron Cup; competed in the 2017 Diageo World Class NE Regionals; 2018 NE regional winner of the Copper & Kings Mixtape competition; and the winner of the Revivalist Spirits DC Quarantine Cocktail competition. She judged the 2018 Virginia Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience Competition. She spearheaded the last 3 DCCBG’s Tiki/Bloody Mary Competitions and was accepted as a student at Portland Cocktail Week 2018 and again in 2019.
Rosner and her cocktails have been featured in such publications (in print and online) as Imbibe magazine, Liquor.com, Washington Post, District Fray, Washingtonian, DC Refined Magazine, Thrillist, Eater, The Jewish Food Experience blog. She has a cocktail published in Maggie Hoffman’s book, One Bottle Cocktail and has been featured in several local television segments.