Get your evening going right
Shana Cook, Bartender
What lessons have you learned behind the bar?
You know, I think that working as a bartender has taught me a lot. I see the ups and downs of life — it's a great time as long as you keep a hold of yourself. There's a lot of observing.
And it's definitely not for the faint of heart.
No. [Laughs.] It's a battleship back there. If you asked any of our bar staff we can show you our arms and legs and hands, we are bruised and battered. But I think our team is so good behind our bar that we kind of pull each other together; we're like a family.
Coconut Mint Lemonade
If you were stranded on a desert island, this is the drink you'd want with you — a mix of coconut vodka, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, pure cane syrup, fresh mint leaves and coconut water.
Levis Commons Blvd., Perrysburg
John Jacob, Bartender
Are you an old-school bartender?
I’m absolutely a classic bartender. I follow the recipes as closely as possible, but I still stay in touch with the new, breathing life into old drinks and getting to see how flavors pair together and what the new school is doing. It’s quite interesting. I prefer to make the older, hard-to-find, rare drinks. That’s why I try to study pre-prohibition drinks.
Sounds like the only thing missing is the arm garters.
[Laughs.] It’s a niche I’ve carved out for myself. If they want to drink a classic — something timeless and from yesteryear — they know they can come to me and I’ll give them an outstanding drink.
Barrel-Aged Rye Whiskey Manhattan
This drink of dry rye whiskey, Maraschino liqueur, the high-end sweet vermouth Carpano Antica Formula, and Fee Brothers old-fashioned bitters is prepared then barreled for 3 months. By the time it’s in your glass, Mr. Jacob will have garnished with sour cherries — from Hungary.
5453 Monroe St.
Burger Bar 419
Nichole Hayman, Bartender
What's the craziest thing you've seen bartending?
When I was 21, I was bartending at a place near UT. We did shots that we lit on fire. One night we decided we just wanted to light everything on fire, so we lit the entire bar, which was made of marble, and it stayed lit for a while. As a new-ish bartender, I was like "Oh my God!" I still do flaming shots, even at Burger Bar 419.
How do you memorize so many drinks and the people who order them?
I'm insane. I remember phone numbers from people I knew in kindergarten. I have an exquisite memory — I'll remember drinks I've served to people who've come in only once six months ago. I think having a photographic memory is an absolute perk if you're a bartender.
Your choice of vodka, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, fresh ginger and ginger beer are poured over ice — cold and invigorating, just like its namesake.
BURGER BAR 419
4400 Heatherdowns Blvd.
Chowders ‘N Moor
Justin Hickman, Bar Manager
What's the secret to being a good bartender?
It's definitely learning the customer's name. I think that's the number one most important thing, because everybody wants to feel like they belong somewhere. It's always nice to go where everybody knows your name. [Laughs.]
Nice Cheers reference. What makes the bar the place to be?
The nicest and coolest thing about the bar is that it's a nice place to relax, but it's also a nice place to vent without having to pay for therapy. If anyone wants to be a psychologist, they should do a class of bartending — you never know what you're going to hear.
Razz A Tini
Just talking about the Razz A Tini is refreshing — it’s a shaken up mix of raspberry and lemon vodka, with splashes of lemonade, pineapple juice, and Sprite, all garnished with a slice of pineapple and its leaf.
Chowders ‘N Moor
7723 Airport Hwy., Holland
312 South St., Waterville
Star Bar & Grille
Samantha Thompson, Bartender
What do you love most about bartending?
Star Bar has been my favorite place to bartend because the clientele is so diverse. I meet so many people it's almost like I'm on a night out. It's a really fun job.
What are you like when you're behind the bar?
When I'm there I just get into work mode, and everything changes. I'm in the zone. I like to have things organized and everything under control. I don't really have time to dance behind the bar, but when I hear my favorite song play I have been known to sing. [Laughs.]
The Star Bar's take on the classic cocktail features vodka, the orange tang of triple sec, pomegranate juice, and champagne, all garnished with a slice of orange.
Star Bar & Grille
5215 Monroe St.
El Camino Real
Rachel Lorenzen, Bartender
What are some of the perks of bartending we’re too tipsy to notice?
Being able to people watch is one of the perks. People are drinking and having a good time, and we sometimes know interesting things that happen.
What’s your soundtrack of choice for a night of bartending?
I love blues, country, rock, electronic. I love ZZ Top. If I hear any ZZ Top song it kind of gets me going.
They don't reveal their secret recipe margarita's ingredients, except to say it's mixed with an icy Corona, garnished with lime and enjoyed with the tang from a salt rim glass
El Camino Real
2500 W. Sylvania Ave.
Justin Carnes, Bar Manager
Why do you think you've stuck with bartending for 14 years?
You meet a lot of interesting people. I'm kind of a people person, and I'm a bit of an entertainer. I talk it up, I tell jokes. We hang out. Especially at Rocky's; it's a great place to do that.
What's the most fun you've had behind the bar at Rocky's?
We do so many fun things there it's absurd. We've done everything from a throwback Friday cocktail party to hosting stand-up comedians. Anything we can think of to bring our clientele together and have a good time. We really try to cater to our customers — that's why we have a pretty loyal following.
Asian Pear Martini
This versatile summer refresher is a mix of Smirnoff Pear Vodka, sour apple schnapps, and a splash of sour.
Mutz at Oliver House
Amanda Schmidt, Bartender
What's the craziest thing you've ever seen while you were behind the bar?
This guy was dancing on the bar [and as] he was pulling off his shirt, [he] fell into the tap handles. He pushed all the taps forward, so there was beer flowing everywhere. And he knocked over all the fruit I just cut.
There's a skill to pouring a beer right? You can't just place it under the tap.
Tilt the glass a little bit and when the beer gets close to the top straighten it up and leave about a thumb width's of head. I definitely have people say all the time, "Can you fill it up a little more?" I have to tell them it's supposed to have a little bit of head.
A light American wheat ale with a tiny "sting" of spicy saaz hops that complements local honey, organic lemon peel and grains of paradise. It's not heavy, and the crisp citrus taste is perfect for this summer's record-breaking temperatures.
Mutz at The Oliver House
27 Broadway Ave.
Taylor Jaskolski, Head Bartender
What's the inspiration behind Registry Bistro's drink creations?
When we come up with a new drink, it's of the utmost importance that the flavors of the drink reflect the season and complement the flavors of the food we're serving.
What have you learned from working with a highly trained chef?
Chef Erika taught me a lot about handcrafted cocktails. At Registry Bistro, we don't use flavored liquors, we muddle fresh produce and herbs on the spot and utilize high quality liquors, liqueurs and aperitifs to focus the drink's flavor. It's definitely a more romantic way of making a cocktail.
This refreshing summer drink is a modern take on the Corpse Reviver #2, the classic cocktail invented by famed prohibition-era bartender Harry Craddock of the American Bar at London's Savoy Hotel. Registry Bistro's take on the Reviver features London dry gin, Lillet Blanc and absinthe, as well as citrus juices and marmalade.
144 N. Superior St.
Brenda Williams, Head BarTender
You've been a bartender for 16 years. What drew you to the business?
I started at 21 years old. It's either you like it or you don't — and I love it. It's like you're working a party all the time. That's my high.
What's the story behind the Booty Call?
One night we had a bunch of girls come in, and none of the girls would drink beer. We did a taste test, and one of the girls tried the drink and said "If a guy bought this he'd definitely get booty from me." That's when the Booty Call was born!
This drink is as sexy as its name — a mix of Smirnoff Orange Vodka, Malibu Rum, pineapple juice and a splash of strawberry daquiri, shaken on the rocks.
Clamdiggers of Toledo
2605 Broadway Ave.
Clamdiggers of Toledo on Facebook
Stacy Birrell, Bartender and server
What do you like most about your job?
It's corny, but I like making people happy. It's nice giving people what they want after a long day — a nice cold margarita. I don't even feel like I'm working when I'm here.
What do you think is behind the mystique of the margarita?
I think [it's popular] because it's refreshing. It's sweet. It doesn't kill you with the tequila, but at the same time it is strong enough so it's not masked by a bunch of different fruity juices. You get your money's worth with the El Vaquero margaritas.
Tequila and triple sec make for a sweet and sour combination that quenches. Opt for a salt or sugar rim to finish off this green treat.
3302 Secor Rd.
Stephanie McGee, Bar manager
What made you want to start bartending?
I was actually very interested in chemistry when I was younger. I kind of felt bartending was similar to chemistry in school — I get to test things with the different liquors and recipes. I have a Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State University. I actually started bartending when I was going to school there, and I ended up falling in love with it and never left the industry.
If you could have a drink with any Toledoan, who would it be?
The mayor — he comes in to Bravo. I would definitely ask him what sort of obstacles he overcame to get to where he is. He's really inspiring and seems like a very personable person. I'm attracted to that because I do like to talk a lot!
Bravo’s specialty martini features Absolut Raspberry, Bacardi 03, splashes of pineapple and cranberry juice, and a fitting final whirl of Prosecco, an Italian sparkling white wine.
5001 Monroe St.
Ashley Wise, Bartender
What quality has helped you last 10 years as a bartender?
I can have a conversation with a tree. I could talk to anybody, really, about anything, and I meet a lot of interesting people. Being in the bar industry keeps me entertained.
What's the typical conversation like between you and the customers?
Bartenders are like therapists. Our business is 75 percent regulars, and they're very loyal. A lot of the people are like family; they know my story and I know their story.
The appeal of this drink isn't confusing - four kinds of rum (dark, light, mango, and coconut), lemondade, pineapple juice, tonic and a splash of coke are stirred over ice for a sweet summer refresher.
5131 Heatherdowns Blvd.
Carli Brown, Bartender
If you could have a drink with any Toledoan, who would it be?
Julia Bates, the county prosecutor. I just think she's fascinating. I'm in law school right now, and shes really inspires me to follow in her footsteps.
Law school! How do you manage all those late nights?
It was crazy, but I did it. Bartenders learn confidentiality, because we listen to people's problems and secrets. When I was stressed with school, working actually made me feel better. I come in and it's a fun, positive, upbeat atmosphere.
Bourbon Root Beer Float
The twist on the childhood classic gets an upgrade of Bulleit Bourbon, Jones root beer and a scoop of maple pecan gelato from Ann Arbor's Zingerman's.
5305 Monroe St.