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Swizzle! :: EW's Nightlife Guide

Swizzle!

 

The Secret Lives of Bartenders 

by Adrienne Van der Valk

A bartender can be a counselor or a crush, a pal, a parent or a creature of mystery. They might serve us hundreds of drinks over the course of a ‘tender-custee relationship, yet how well do we ever really know those men and women who pour us booze, wipe up our spills and let us know when it’s time to call it a night? In honor of all they do for us, EW decided to pass the mic to a handful of hard working mixologists and find out how they feel about life behind the bar.

 

Ann Marie Bragger, Belly

Ann Marie Bragger

What’s your favorite drink or type of drink to make?

I like to make the classics, the Manhattan; I’m getting to know the old fashioned a little bit more — stirred, not shaken! They’re overlooked, but this is where it all began. They’re basic drinks, not a lot of fluff. There’s a fine line to making them right, finding the balance and really doing the classics justice.

What is your favorite kind of customer?

The enthusiast! Someone who knows what they want.

Do you hang out at your establishment when you get off work or when you’re out on the town?

I’ve only done it a couple of times. Once was a birthday celebration, and once I came here by myself, but I was still kind of working. I’m usually not off too far ahead of being closed, but I’m comfortable sitting up at the bar and having a drink. 

What do you drink when you go out?

Whisky. I recently discovered Bulleit. I like it on the rocks.

What do you look for a in a nightlife location?

Most important is the lighting, the ambiance. I like an inviting atmosphere. I usually go where there’s music.

 

Jack Hoffman, John Henry’s

Jack Hoffman

What’s your favorite drink or type of drink to make?

Technically it’s called a Grape Ape. It’s grape vodka (Three Olives), sour apple schnapps, sour mix and cranberry. Any time a girl comes up to me and wants something fruity and pretty strong, it goes over really well. Where I originally learned to make it they used Hypnotic and Chambord, but that makes it taste like Dimetapp.

What is your favorite kind of customer?

The kind who understands when we’re having a busy night and is patient. I like a customer who knows how to order, especially one who knows how to order in groups, and can get in and out when we’re really packed.

Do you hang out at your establishment when you get off work or when you’re out on the town?

When I do go out on the nights I have off, I’ll end up going into the bar. It’s family there, a place to feel at home, and you always run into interesting people.

What do you drink when you go out?

When it comes to liquor, I mix it up. With beer, the one I fall back on is Ninkasi Total Domination. As far as IPAs go, I’m typically not a fan, but Ninkasi bridges the gap between IPA and pale ale.

What do you look for a in a nightlife location?

A place that has a venue with live acts going on. I like a laid back atmosphere, somewhere you can feel comfortable even when you’re alone. 

 

Chris Murphy, Davis’ Restaurant

Chris Murphy

What is your favorite drink or type of drink to make?

Anything that’s crafted, anything that’s fresh. Our bar specializes in fresh squeezed juice, and I do not mind muddling. By far my favorite thing that I make is a ginger lemon tequila infusion I’ve been making for eight years. We call it “candy.”

What is your favorite kind of customer?

I only have guests, I don’t have customers. I prefer people who are engaging but who know how to respectfully handle themselves around other people and the bar. My favorite kind of guest … if I say, “What do you want?” and they say, “I don’t know!” but then they give me some flavors and it’s like, “All right, let’s do something!” The more fun I can have with the people across the bar, the better.

Do you hang out at your establishment when you get off work or when you’re out on the town?

The way the owner set this restaurant up, it’s very family oriented. I love everyone I work with, so when I go out — which isn’t that often because I have a little boy — I always make a stop here because I want to see my fellow bartenders. There are always one or two people who work here sitting at the end of the bar. It is a very comfortable place to come as a guest.

What do you drink when you go out?

I keep it pretty simply when I go out. When you’re behind the bar so much you tend not to order elaborate drinks. In the winter it’s Scotch or beer. In general, there’s nothing I like better than a straight up, classically well done martini. Vodka martini. I’ll drink anything but gin.

What do you look for a in a nightlife location?

I look for a place that has a little bit of everything. There’s got to be part of the bar where you can get away. I mainly go out to hang out and have a conversation with my friends. I’m more likely to go into a place based on who’s behind the bar than based on what’s going on. The bartender creates the ambiance, and there are a lot of great bartenders in this town, so it’s not hard to find a place to go.

 

Amber Johnson, McShane’s

Amber Johnson

What is your favorite drink or type of drink to make?

My favorite type of drink is drinks I can muddle. I like that because you use less sugar, and when I’ve had a bad day and I’m a little irritated, I like to motherfucking muddle! Any time you muddle you are crushing more of the natural fruit juice. When I’m making a margarita I use five or six pieces of lime and just a splash of sour. I make drinks like I like to drink.

What is your favorite kind of customer?

Bartenders and anyone in the service industry. THE best tippers ever and the most patient. They know how it is.

Do you hang out at your establishment when you get off work or when you’re out on the town?

Yes, but only because of it being McShane’s. Our customers here are awesome. Other places I’ve worked, I’d leave as soon as I get off work. Because we have the best clientele in the world, it’s easy. Other places, not so much. I come here when I go out too. I came here before I worked here. Not only do I come here because it’s here, it’s best prices, best food, best drinks. Why not come here?

What do you drink when you go out?

A Stoli soda water with lime. It is not too sugary, less of a hangover. Good vodka at a decent price and it’s light. I run, so for me I don’t want to sit there and drink all the calories I burn.

What do you look for a in a nightlife location?

I like to go to places with awesome services, good food and nice people. Because I work in this industry, I don’t want to stand 17 rows back get a terrible drink and have some punk knocking a drink into my back. I’m in this environment all the time so when I go out I like to chill. 

 

 

:: :: Tippling in Topsy-Turvy Times :: From ‘Margaritas’ to Joose :: Eugene’s Sexiest Drink Slingers ‘09 :: ::

:: :: The Secret Lives of Bartenders :: Here Comes the Neighborhood :: Bar Listings A to Z :: ::