Know Your Bartender: Library Bar's Sean Ross Johnson
"I enjoy drama, but I love comedy. I love making people laugh," Library Bar's Sean Ross Johnson said, "The gift of laughter is immeasurable."
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — "Do you mind if I slice fruit while we talk?" Sean Ross Johnson smiled, picking up a serrated knife and an orange from the Library Bar's counter.
Johnson is a 33-year-old bartender at the scholarly-themed lounge, where he's worked for almost a year.
For those who haven't been, the lights are lowered to the point where it's almost completely dark. And once your eyes adjust to the dimness, you feel like you should be in a satin smoking robe and matching slippers because the bar looks like the board game Clue brought to life.
"I used to live in Chicago, and I started bartending as a way to supplement an acting career," he said.
He moved to LA seven years ago when his agent told him it was time to fly the nest and head to the West Coast. When asked about his acting career, he laughed.
"My acting is going well," he said, "But my career is, well — I'm bar tending right now."
Still, Johnson said he loves working at the Library Bar and he has hopes of opening his own bar in a few years.
"[Bartending] is kind of an addictive lifestyle because it's good money and you can keep your days free," he said, "It allows me to maintain the ability to do what I really want, which is acting in film and television."
He fell in love with acting as a child, when his mom would bring him to see plays and his dad would read him bedtime stories. He realized he liked performing and telling stories.
"I love it. I live for it," he said, on acting.
He draws inspiration from classic movies. His favorites include Citizen Kane, There Will Be Blood and The Big Lebowski.
"But I'm definitely a romantic as well," he sheepishly admitted, "I just watched The Vow. I choked up a little bit."
He quickly changed the subject after this potentially embarrassing confession. Johnson described himself as very private, and it's a regular habit for him to deflect personal questions that patrons ask him.
For him, bartending and acting are remarkably similar.
"It's a hands-on job, so you learn as you go," he said, "I've learned how to learn people a lot more quickly … The more you talk to people, the more you realize there aren't too many differences between anyone."
So what does the bartender like to drink? Johnson likes everything, pretty much — other than brown liquors, that is.
"Physically, they age you more," he said. Citing a magician friend of his and rock musician Keith Richards, he staunchly stood by this statement. (BlogDowntown could not find anything evidence verifying this scientifically.)
For now, Johnson continues bartending by night and refining his acting by day. He even has a screenplay in development.
This is the second installment of the Know Your Bartender series.