Darcy S. O’Neil was born in Sarnia, Ontario and spent many of those years living near the beach. A cold Canadian beach, but a beach none-the-less. After high school, the decision of a career choice was whittled down to chemistry or the culinary arts. Chemistry was the winner. At the time it seemed logical that laboratory skills were more transferable to the kitchen than cooking skills to the lab. Four years later, he received his diploma in chemistry.
After a six-year stint working in a world-class oil and gas research facility, the time for change arrived, via a downsizing notice. After a couple of false starts in the pharmaceutical and information technology worlds, the possibility of going to chef school returned. During a period of quiet contemplation, and a few drinks, he was whacked with the epiphany stick and the marriage of chemistry and bartending dawned upon him.
With a little research into the world of mixology, and a completely stocked home bar, that rivalled many restaurants, and an irritating amount of clutter, the fusion of science and art began. As he rifled through the classic drinks and modern interpretations—plus the occasional vile concoction—the chemistry skills started to refine the art. A whole new world of experimental flavours opened up in a way that satisfied his experimental curiosity and his culinary cravings. A bartender was born.
With this new found knowledge in hand, Darcy set about looking for a place to apply these skills. His optimism was soon dashed when he discovered that very few if any, bars shared his passion for fine drinks. Darcy bided his time, learning the ropes while trying to make the best of a poor situation. At every turn, Darcy would try to make a bad cocktail slightly better, and eventually, people started to notice. The bar managers lacked Darcy’s vision, even though customers enjoyed the improvements. This would lead to a string of resignations, and on a couple of occasions, outright termination. Darcy tenaciously stuck to his vision, even in the face of pending unemployment.
To find a place of acceptance, Darcy turned to the internet and started writing about tasteful cocktail on his website, Art of Drink. It started slowly with a few people taking notice. Then more people latched on when he transcribed a copy of Jerry Thomas’ Bartenders Guide from the 1800s and placed it on his website. From there it has grown to over 3,000 unique readers per day.
As Darcy jumped from bar to bar, looking for a place where he could utilize his skills, and satiate his passion, he decided to take a part-time lab job, in a research centre at the University of Western Ontario. This was partially to ease the blow of future terminations, since no-one is fond of those, and partially because he missed the scientific geekery.
Currently, Darcy works part-time in the Robarts Molecular Pathology lab at the University of Western Ontario and bartends occasionally. He can also be found writing about original cocktail creations and other drink related topics at Art of Drink and promoting his book Fix the Pumps.