Bartending Siblings Fern and Oliver Tizpantizi-Serrano pose behind the bar at Westport Social.

Bartending Siblings Fern and Oliver Tizpantizi-Serrano Bring a Fresh Vibe to Westport Social

Wednesday March 13, 2024

By Rachel Huffman

If you haven’t been to Westport Social, imagine a grown-up gaming lounge filled with bocce ball, darts, foosball, ping-pong, shuffleboard and washers, with private karaoke rooms and live music performances to boot.

You can drink whiskey neat – there are more than 35 from the U.S., Scotland, Ireland and Japan on the menu – but bartending siblings Fern and Oliver Tizpantizi-Serrano would rather make you one of their specialty cocktails.

Fern began working at Westport Social in 2019, and Oliver joined her after the COVID-19 pandemic. “As a bartender at Westport Social, I get to interact with people from all over the country,” Fern says. “I love talking to them, listening to their stories and learning what they bring to St. Louis.”

“I’m not as social as Fern, but bartending forces me out of my comfort zone and helps me practice my social skills,” Oliver explains. “I also enjoy seeing guests’ reactions when they take the first sip of a drink that I made especially for them.”

Westport Social allows for creativity behind the bar, and both Fern and Oliver rely on their Mexican culture for inspiration.

Recently, Fern concocted a spicy chocolate Old Fashioned influenced by mole, a traditional sauce used in Mexican cuisine. The cocktail combined Angel’s Envy bourbon, piloncillo, chocolate bitters, ancho chile, cinnamon and star anise.

“I played around with the recipe at home,” she says, “and my kitchen smelled so good. The aroma of the cocktail reminded me of a winter wonderland. Our managers are open to new ideas, and they encourage us to use work hours to test out new recipes, as well.”

That’s exactly what Oliver did when he created a spicy pineapple-blackberry Margarita. During some downtime at work, he whipped it up, and the drink – which expertly balanced sweet and spicy flavors – made quite a splash.

“Westport Social is a melting pot. We’ve served people who have never had a drink, but they’re excited to enter the world of spirits, as well as people who have drank around the world, but they’re still amazed by our cocktails.”

– Oliver Tizpantizi-Serrano

Cocktails don’t have to be complicated. Fern and Oliver love tequila and gin respectively because they shine in simple creations. Add citrus here and cucumber there, and you have delicious drinks that hit every time.

“When we were growing up, our mom cooked for us all the time,” Oliver says. “She taught us how to add the right amount of flavor to a dish – or a drink – without overdoing it. She’s my biggest inspiration now that I’m the one serving people.”

Plenty of thought goes into the bar program at Westport Social, but Fern and Oliver make mixing drinks look easy. “I love the science of mixology,” Fern says. “I love figuring out how to balance something sweet with something sour for the perfect flavor profile. Experimenting with all the ingredients and techniques in our arsenal is one of the best parts of my job.”

The duo is happy to design a drink for your palate, but if you’re looking at the current menu, they recommend Bloodhound, which features Bulleit Bourbon, sweet vermouth, blood orange cordial, lemon and ginger beer.

“As long as you can handle carbonation, you’ll like Bloodhound,” Fern enthuses. “I’m not the biggest bourbon lover, but I like it.”

A cocktail sits on a table at Westport Social in St. Louis.
Photo by Mark Hermes

Savoring stiff drinks and friendly competition, you’ll likely work up an appetite. Share the burnt end nachos made with wonton chips, avocado crema, cheese sauce, Kalamata olives, banana peppers and black bean pico de gallo; then, dig into the hot chicken sliders stacked with Cheddar, fried green tomatoes, pickles and lettuce and drizzled with hot honey.

“The food at Westport Social is familiar, comforting and easy to eat,” Fern says. “I think that the cocktails complement the food but elevate the overall experience.”

Westport Social welcomes patrons aged 21 to 101. As long as you’re feeling, well, social, you’ll have a good time.

“Westport Social is a melting pot,” Oliver says. “We’ve served people who have never had a drink, but they’re excited to enter the world of spirits, as well as people who have drank around the world, but they’re still amazed by our cocktails.”