Micah LeMon’s path to bartending is anything but typical. Raised in a Pentecostal household in suburban Virginia, LeMon started bartending before he’d ever had a drink.
After graduating summa cum laude from Liberty University with a B.S. in biology, LeMon pursued a master’s in linguistics from The University of Virginia. His academic pursuits were varied, from working in a biomedical research lab to tutoring Latin American immigrants to analyzing the phonology of endangered languages. While in his master’s program, LeMon bartended at a high-volume bar in Charlottesville to pay for school. In the rare breaks between slinging drinks, Micah began thinking seriously about how to transform the aggressive ingredients behind the bar into balanced and delicious cocktails.
LeMon managed the bar program at several Charlottesville restaurants before finding a home at The Alley Light, where he has overseen the bar since its 2014 opening. The Alley Light was a 2015 semifinalist for The James Beard Foundation’s best new restaurant award, due in large part to the inventive and well-executed cocktails that LeMon and his bar staff created. In addition to his work at the restaurant, LeMon owns Lemon Bar Services, a company that specializes in beverage catering with a focus on custom, seasonal and creative cocktails.
LeMon’s first book, The Imbible, arrives this fall via The University of Virginia Press. As LeMon describes it, it’s the book he wishes someone had given him when he first started out in the industry. It covers theory, technique, and recipes, but most importantly it covers the basic principles of mixology that are indispensable to both home and professional bartenders. The book is an invaluable resource that helps bartenders of all stripes understand and execute classic cocktails while giving them the knowledge and confidence to riff on those to make originals of their own.
LeMon spends his time away from the bar with his wife Amanda and their two boxers, and you can often find him working at home in the garden where he grows everything from blueberries and persimmons to heirloom wormwood from Jefferson’s own Monticello garden.