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Shawn Refoua

CREATIVE DIRECTOR - Shawn got his start in the bar world in the 90's at a sports bar in Century City. Working on and off in bars while he pursued academics and a career in software development, he moved to San Francisco in 1996. He continued his presence behind retail bars until the mid-2000s - where he decided to apply for a position as an instructor at a San Francisco bartending school.

Shawn has always gravitated towards budding controversial ideas he believes will gain mainstream acceptance. He was passionate in the subject of evolutionary psychology at time people would turn red-faced at the mention of behavior and genetics.  As a bartending trainer at a time the bar world was radically changing, he found his niche, yet again, in the burgeoning ideas dividing (and changing) bartenders. The bartending school is where he fell in love with the instructional component of training to be a bartender. 

While he was an instructor, he pioneered programs which helped usher a new feeling towards schools. He created student guest bartending nights en masse, allowing every student to get valuable experience behind a busy bar at a weekly occurrence.  In fact, with the help of Mike Levin, and Justin Trujillo (DJ Weapon), they were able to form the highest grossing weekly Tuesday night party in SF - at Infusion Lounge - bartended exclusively by students.  And since then, we've seen a surge in the popularity of allowing novices guest bartend.

After the school, he formed SF Mixology, a team building and events company. They execute 5-10 events a week, consisting mostly of team building and interactive parties for large corporations at dozens of host bars in the Bay Area. The consulting arm of SFM has contracted with numerous bars, liquor companies, private clubs, and C-level execs of several of the largest companies in the world. Although you can't walk in off the street and sit at Shawn's bar, you may be one of the estimated 5000+ people who spent hours in event time with him drinking and learning. 

In 2013, Shawn brainstormed a new kind of bartending training program with old friend, and former co-worker in software dev, Ryan Butterfoss. They invented a pour tracking program using existing hardware from Beverage Metrics and designed, from the ground up, a dozen applications to form the interactive video-game style interface now in-use at CABAM. 

Combining their efforts with long time bartender, Jahaziel Garay, they pulled together savings, and after a grueling 3 years, found a suitable location where they built a new type of bar school.  Established in 2016, California Academy of Bartending and Mixology is the most innovative bartending school in the U.S.

As this is being written, what we all really want is for folks to come down and see the fruit of Shawn's life savings. Then we'll be able to tell whether Shawn is actually just insane for thinking this concept could work, or perhaps he is the genius we're all hoping for.