I'll Bite

One of Charlotte’s popular bar stars is leaving for a new job

Charlotte’s quickly growing cocktail scene is losing one popular drinks creator.
Charlotte’s quickly growing cocktail scene is losing one popular drinks creator. mmathis@charlotteobserver.com

Cocktails were treated like separate courses at Monday night’s Soul Food Sessions dinner at Heirloom, featuring the cooking of African-American chefs in the Charlotte area.

So it was a shame to hear that DiSean Burns, the maker of two of the night’s creative cocktails, is leaving his position as manager of drink at Stoke Bar at the Marriott City Center. Burns has quickly become a presence in Charlotte’s growing beverage scene, including heading up the local chapter of the U.S. Bartenders Guild with Colleen Hughes, the beverage manager for Haberdish, Sea Level and Crepe Cellar.

Burns broke the news Monday night at Soul Food Sessions that he’s leaving Stoke for a position with Tito’s in North Carolina.

Before joining Stoke, Burns and his friend Frank Walton had already started a nonprofit that hosts events to support culinary professionals and charities, such as Core, for children of restaurant employees. (Monday night’s Soul Food Sessions, by the way, raised money for a mental health nonprofit, Life Skills Cares.)

In his new job with Tito’s, he’ll be events manager for North Carolina and parts of Virginia. That will allow him to host more events that support local charities. Burns has two young children and says working for Tito’s will allow him better hours than the late nights involved in running a drinks program.

“It provides a better work/life balance,” he says. He’ll still be based in Charlotte, and plans to still be active with the bartenders guild. And more importantly for cocktail fans: He’ll do Stoke’s next seasonal cocktail menu before he goes.

Kathleen Purvis: 704-358-5236, @kathleenpurvis