How did you get into bartending and how long have you been at it?
I burned out on my former sales job and wanted out. Bartending was supposed to be a temporary break before returning to sales—it's been 10 years now.
What do you love most about your job?
On a good day, seeing people enjoy the food and beverages, learning something about what they are drinking and eating. On a bad day, going home.
What are the qualities of a good bartender?
Listening to the guest, knowing what is on your shelves and how it combines in drinks, knowing flavors and how to combine them, attention to detail, and lots of patience. In the words of Bill and Ted, "Be excellent to each other and party on."
Most outrageous thing you've ever witnessed while working? Oddest request? Overall craziest bartender story?
I walked into the restroom to check on what needed cleaning or replenishing, and there was a couple going at each other against the wall with their clothes on the floor. I did my check for paper towels and toilet paper, and then I asked them if they needed another round. They slunk out after leaving cash for their tab on the table. Oddest and craziest are going in a possible book I'm currently working on.
What's the best/worst come-on you've heard while behind the bar, either directed at you or someone else?
A former boss bluntly asking a woman on her first visit to the bar to go to bed with him, but couched in very profane language. She left after telling him off and never came back.
Anything you can't drink anymore after bartending as long as you have? What about your current drink of choice?
I can't stand Jägermeister; the smell of it makes me gag. And not due to bartending, but to a high-school beach party, and Budweiser. Favorite drink is Scotch or Irish whiskey, maybe a few flakes of ice depending on my mood. A good martini is right up there, too.
Favorite drink to make? What about your proudest conception of a drink?
I don't have a favorite, but I get tons of positive feedback on my old-fashioned and my manhattan. My favorite thing to do is combine flavors found in food into cocktails that make people question what they think they like. One was a take on Thai/Vietnamese food that used fish sauce. Another was a caprese cocktail that used tomato shrub that's garnished with a mozzarella cheese ball.
Least favorite drink to make?
I won't name it because it's one of the most popular drinks on the menu still, but I'm tired of making it every night. Or vodka and soda, because it's so darn boring a drink.
Where's your own favorite watering hole?
My home bar.
What do you do when you're not slinging drinks?
Try to get sleep and spend time with my wife, maybe see friends. None of which happens often enough. I'm really pretty boring nowadays.
You can find Neil at Revolve Food & Wine (10024 Main St) in Bothell Wednesday through Saturday evenings.