Bartender Q&A: Brittany Chapman of Grille 401 on Grey Goose and Vodka and Her Least Favorite Bar Customers
Bartenders have so many positive attributes, it's hard to recognize everything they do: They make us feel better after a long, hard day, lend us an ear when we're in need, make us feel special by remembering our favorite drink, get us drunk -- obviously -- and sometimes just give the the right amount of sass to whip us into shape.
Grille 401's bartender and bar manager extraordinaire, Brittany Chapman, does all of the above and more. She's beautiful, smart, and sassy and mixes up a damned good drink, of course. We decided to chat with this industry veteran about her strangest drink requests (hint: One is a Grey Goose and vodka) and the customers she finds to be the biggest pains in the ass.
Clean Plate Charlie: Where are you from?
Chapman: I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I went to North Allegheny for high school and Clarion University of Pennsylvania for College. I've been in South Florida for five years.
How long have you been in the industry?
I have been in the restaurant industry for 13 years, bartending and managing the last nine of those years.
I knew I wanted to be a bartender when I started serving at 15. The bar staff just looked like they were having so much fun!
Favorite drink to make?
Favorite shot would be a gummy bear: Stoli Razz, peach schnapps, sour, Sprite. Drink would be one of our new craft cocktails called the Acai Mojito: Bacardi rum, Cedilla açaí liqueur, mint, lime, simple syrup.
Least favorite drink to make?
Virgin frozen cocktails.
Strangest drink requested?
A glass of red wine with a splash of Bombay Sapphire, but I also love it when a customer asks for a Grey Goose and vodka.
What's your favorite spirit?
When creating cocktails, my favorite spirit to use is vodka, because it's so versatile; but to drink, I would have to go with Bacardi or red wine.
What's your favorite thing to drink after work?
Honestly, water. I am usually so dehydrated from running around all night.
What is your favorite place to drink after work?
If I venture out after work, I head to Poorhouse because it is one of the few places that is still open at 3 in the morning and the service is always great; they really make you feel like family there.
What's the best pickup line you've heard at the bar?
All pickup lines are terrible.
I want to lick your teeth all night long!
If someone comes in and orders a straight up Martini, you instantly think they are just getting off work after a long day.
Biggest pet peeve while working?
My biggest pet peeve is when patrons snap their finger, wave, or yell, then still don't know what they want to drink!
Who is your favorite local bartender?
I honestly can't pick just one; I have a few favorite bartenders on the block, so it really just depends where I am at. And why. I would say that all of them are just so hospitable, they really make you feel welcome.
If I wasn't a bartender, I would be I am not sure what I would be doing, but I know that I couldn't work your typical desk job. I enjoy the physical and mental challenges that come with bartending.
Favorite kind of bar customer?
My favorite type of customer is someone that is well-mannered and came to enjoy the atmosphere, not harass the bartender.
Least favorite kind of bar customer?
I have a few:
The indecisive customer... "ummm I don't know what I want, what do you like to drink, What's good? surprise me" OK, guys, here is the deal: My spidey senses aren't working today, so I don't know if you like things sweet, sour, rum, vodka, gin, tequila, beer, wine, muddled, frozen, the list goes on! You have to give me something to work with...
The disrespectful customer: This is the person that has absolutely no manners, the one that disrespects either the people around them and or the bartender. Where to start... If someone is eating, don't reach over them to try and get a drink; let them enjoy their meal. Don't talk down to me: I am not your servant; you are my guest; act accordingly (remember most bartenders are college-educated and are probably making more money than you are). Don't start a fight: I really don't want to have to break it up and kick you out. I mean, come on, guys, how old are we?
If you could make a drink for anyone, who would it be? And which drink do you think would suit them?
Cleopatra. Even though wine was the drink of choice in that day and age, I would want her to try something unique like a strawberry cucumber martini.
Favorite thing about bartending?
No two shifts are ever the same!
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.
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