With flair and originality, Sarah Mickney breaks away from your standard bottled beers and Captain and Cokes when she experiments behind the bar. Armed with brains and a kick-ass disposition, this bartender — pouring at both Cosmos in Ballantyne and Boardwalk Billy's in Matthews — uses her patrons to test out new, innovative cocktails. When she's not mixing drinks, she's putting her imagination to good use in homes across the Queen City as the founder of her decorating company, Design Envy.
Creative Loafing: Currently you're bartending at two different locations. What is it like working for such contrasting spots in the nightlife world?
Sarah Mickney: I've spent the last six years at Boardwalk Billy's; I've learned a lot and met a lot of people. I opened at Cosmos two years ago, and it gave me a totally different perspective. While Boardwalk is mostly regulars, Cosmos generates a new crowd more often. At Cosmos, I'm able to experiment with drinks. I have my customers who are willing to be my guinea pigs. My newest drink, the Brandy Flip, actually has a raw egg in it. I told one of my regulars, "If you don't like it, I'll buy it," but she loved it. Despite how it sounds, it's delicious. My Cosmos customers always want something new; it's allowed me to utilize my creativity behind the bar. I've tried to bring that back to Boardwalk.
A two-job (in your case three-job) lifestyle is tough. In relation to bartending, what is Design Envy for you: appreciated hiatus or excessive obligation?
Appreciated-obligation. At the moment, one depends on the other, and will until I reach my pinnacle. It's my dream, and you make sacrifices when you have to. I'm a firm believer that hard work pays off. I've sacrificed nights away from my friends and family, but right now I'm a sponge, soaking up everything I can. I learn new things every day, and I love that.
How did you first become interested in interior design, and from there how did you take your vision to the next level?
I have been arranging and re-arranging furniture since I was 10. I would move stuff around, and a few weeks later need a change, and could always coerce my brother into helping. I've always been immersed in the designing world. My mother instilled in me the same love for colors and décor she herself possesses. The road to Design Envy was paved with many steps. My husband and I purchased our first home six years ago, and all those years of dreaming of my future home became a reality. My decorating really stemmed from there; if I saw something I loved but couldn't afford it, I learned how to make it. I started printing up business cards and setting my hobby into motion. I wanted to test the waters, see if I could make this passion of mine work.