There are some people who are just born to be good bartenders -- whether it's their chosen line of work or not. Luckily, this week's Bar Talk bartender from Delray Beach happens to be one of those people.
This girl's not your typical hot chick behind the bar -- sure, she's got it going on, but she also knows her stuff. She even has a list of creative concoctions --
her very own drink recipes for when you don't know what to order. But, most importantly, she takes her job seriously. For her, it's more about the craft than the glitz and glamour.
So, if you want a true bar experience -- one where you gossip with your mixologist, and get an authentic drink made with a bit of flair -- stop by Vic and Angelo's off Atlantic Ave. and see Lindsay Yates.
Although she's only been behind the bar four short years -- starting at 21 years old -- Yates has the poise and knowledge of someone far beyond her youthful glow. She's done it all, from barback and server, to hostess and bussing -- even managing. But this Philly native was definitely born to work the bar.
Here is what she had to say:
Clean Plate Charlie: Where was your first job behind the bar?
Linsday Yates: I can't tell that story without first mentioning the person who taught me how to bartend, Simon Allen. He and his brother own the Lion & Eagle English Pub in Boca Raton. They've got a different take on what it's means to own and manage a restaurant and bar. The British just have a different perspective on things.
What did he teach you?
Ha! He taught me everything I know that's important in life -- but as far as bartending goes, he showed me how to be professional. Anyone can learn how to make a drink. What's important is how you handle yourself and treat your customer. When you're a bartender, it's your personality that matters -- your ability to take the b.s. with a smile. Of course, Simon also gave me some good advice.
Did you listen to his advice?
No! The first tip he gave me: don't tell people where you're from, and never have a sports team behind the bar. I ignored that, because I'm a die-hard Philly fan, and I love where I'm from. But it's true. If a rival comes in, they may not tip you very well if they don't like your team.
Was the Lion & Eagle Pub your first bartending gig, then?
No, but [Simon] did get me my first job. It was at a Vietnamese restaurant that hosted a "Haitian Night" every Saturday.
That must have been an experience.
I moved on quickly, but I got a lot out of it. It was high-volume, and a very demanding crowd -- plus they weren't good tippers. I felt like if I could work that bar, I could bartend anywhere, and for anyone.
You've worked at some well-known places, including City Oyster , that deal with a lot of specialty drinks and cocktails. What are your favorite drinks to make?
It sounds cliche, but I love to make margaritas. I use fresh lime juice, always. And cointreau instead of triple sec. And although it's considered a "golden" margarita when you add orange juice, I like to give mine a splash anyways, because it just makes it that much better.
I also like making dirty martinis. One of my customers once told me they could "go iceskating on my martini." That's a compliment, because a good martini should be shaken so hard that an ice layer forms on the top when you pour it. I always let my martinis sit in the shaker awhile, the really shake them up. It makes for a good show, and the drink comes out that much better.
What about people who don't know what they want?
I love it when people challenge me -- you know, let me make my own concoction. It honestly doesn't bother me when people tell me to just make them something. It lets me be creative, and it makes the job more fun. If I'm at a bar where there's a lot of liqueurs, garnishes, fruit and purees, it's on.
I hear you make a mean Lemon Twist. What's that all about?
I like to make a lemon twist the authentic way -- using a lighter to ignite the zest, and rimming the glass with the twist. People really notice it when you [prepare it] this way, and they enjoy it. It makes all the difference. They'll remember you, and the bar.
Do you like to go out for a drink yourself?
It's a hard distinction to make, but at the end of the day, my favorite side of the bar is not the one where I'm working. On Sunday-funday you can find me at the beach, or on a boat -- and with a really spicy Bloody Mary in my hand.
What's your favorite drink?
Oh, that's a tough one. Depends on my mood, what kind of day I've had, and what I'm doing the next day! There are actually very specific things I like to drink. My new favorite is my own recipe. It's vodka with St. Germaine (French liqueur infused with elderflower) and grapefruit juice. A lot of people on the Ave. have St. Germaine, and it's become quite popular.
What else do you like?
Another favorite of mine is Stoli Orange with a splash of orange juice and some Red Bull. In a shot form it's called a Tic-Tac, because it tastes just like an orange Tic-Tac.
Do you like beer?
I love beer, period. It's 90 percent of what I'm drinking if I'm out. If it's a place where they only have domestic on tap, I'll drink a light beer. But, if I'm at a place with a really good selection, like Tryst, I'll have something different. My favorites are the Dogfish Head 60-Minute IPA and Magner's Irish cider.
What are some of your favorite places on Atlantic Ave. when you're not working?
I love to go the Hurricane Bar & Lounge, because it's fun. It's a very different, local crowd. And there's live music six nights a week. When I first came to Delray, I fell in love with it. As a patron, as a bartender -- it's one of my favorite spots.
Any plans to do something other than bartend?
At the end of the day, I really love what I do. I love meeting new people, and the Ave. has such a diverse crowd of customers, it makes it so much fun. I'm out the door with a huge smile on my face every day, and I like to laugh. Plus, I'm very outgoing, so I'll talk to anyone.
What's the hardest part about being a bartender?
The most difficult part? You have to be an actor or an actress. Behind the bar, you're on stage, and people are watching your every move. And judging you. You really have to be on top of your game. If you're having a bad day, you can't show it. We lost an employee at one of my jobs, and it was a hard day. It's tough, because you can't leave the bar to have a moment.
Who is your favorite customer?
My favorite customers (and I'm sure most bartenders will agree) are other bartenders. They come in, they know what they want, they won't give you a hard time -- and they're great tippers.
Any rules or advice of your own to give out today?
Ha! I never give my number out to anyone. I think it's funny that people continue to ask, and think I'll give it to them just because they sat at my bar. There's been one exception, but that's just one person in four years! And my other rule: never serve someone if they're over their limit. Not everyone is like that. If you shouldn't have another, I'm not going to give it to you -- even if it means a bad tip.
We'll be sure to stop by and order up one of those specialty concoctions you promised -- and know we're in good hands.