Bartender Q&A Luke Tullos of Jazziz Nightlife on Martinis, Favorite Places to Drink, and More
If ever there was a genre of music that was inherently tied to the rise in cocktail culture, it would be jazz.
From London jazz joints serving gin by the jug to American speakeasies creating interesting concoctions of whatever they could get their hands on during Prohibition, the drinks and the music are both representative of a good time.
In saying so, it should come as no surprise that South Florida's preeminent jazz bar serves a pretty stellar mixed drink. We spoke to Luke Tullo of Jazziz Nightlife about his favorite drinks (hint: It's a martini), the fast food of cocktails, and his favorite local bartenders in Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Clean Plate Charlie: Hometown/ High School?
Tullos: Lafayette, Louisiana; the most magical place in the U.S. for culture junkies. You eat some of the best food in the South all day and dance it all off that night. I've been in South Florida about a year and a half.
How long have you been in the industry?
I've been in the industry for about nine years (in many different aspects).
I knew I wanted to be a bartender when I found out that people would give me money to hang out and make them delicious things.
Favorite drink to make?
A classic Martini: two parts gin, one part fresh dry vermouth, dash of orange bitters, stirred and served up with a lemon peel. If made properly, it's a game changer. You heard it here first: You THOUGHT you knew about the Martini.
Least favorite drink to make?
I'll make anything with a smile on my face; it's my job. The Long Island Iced Tea just makes me sad, though. It's like taking everything on a fast-food dollar menu, cramming it all together, covering it in ketchup, and eating it as fast as possible.
Strangest drink requested?
Honestly, I really don't think any request is strange anymore. There are so many different people with different palates, you never know what your next request might be. Though, I did have somebody ask for a dirty martini with blue cheese olives and St. Germain recently; that gave me some goosebumps.
What's your favorite spirit?
I'm usually an equal-opportunity, barrel-aged spirits drinker (whiskey, rum, brandy), but my favorite would have to be bourbon. It's one of the greatest American inventions and a spirit that allows you to truly taste the refinement and hard work that was put into it.
What's your favorite thing to drink after work?
After work, there is really nothing better than a really cold local beer postshift. The first sip just makes all the craziness you just endured disappear. I've more recently been enjoying Funky Buddha's HopGun IPA.
What is your favorite place to drink after work?
Ha ha! My house! Whoever stocks the bar has fantastic taste...
What's the best pickup line you've heard at the bar?
As I was cracking the corners off a block of ice to carve a sphere for a drink: "I'm glad you decided to break the ice. What are you doing later?"
If someone comes in and orders a proper cocktail, you instantly think lovely things about them.
Biggest pet peeve while working?
Messy stations; during a shift, I think it's vital to have a clean, organized, and stocked work space. I hate reaching for a bar tool or ingredient and it being dirty, empty, or missing.
Who is your favorite local bartender?
I actually try to lay low when I'm out. I have a few favorites, though: Sean and the crew at Sweetwater, Paige and the crew at Tap 42, and I wouldn't forget my Jazziz compatriot, Alex Bennett. That guy is doing big things.
If I wasn't a bartender, I would be a chef or a creative director for some restaurant group.
Favorite kind of bar customer?
Someone who is willing to try new things. We've been experiencing a kind of "renaissance" in the bartending world over the last few years, and new techniques, ingredients, and education are appearing all the time. With so many amazing things now available, those guests who are willing to step out of their norm are in for some truly wonderful experiences.
Least favorite kind of bar customer?
The guest who is trying to get something out of you: free drink, a little extra in their glass, a comped appetizer. I'm a nice guy, and I'll buy my good customers a drink once in a while. Suggesting that my pour is short or that you deserve more than everybody else won't help your situation.
If you could make a drink for anyone, who would it be? And which drink do you think would suit them?
I would probably want to make a drink for Neil deGrasse Tyson; he's a brilliant scientist and communicator. I would probably make him some custom rum-based cocktail; he seems like a rum guy.
Favorite thing about bartending?
The experience for the guest; creating a warm, fun environment that is inviting and stimulating; seamlessly crafting flavors, textures, and aromatics in a way that is unique and appealing; utilizing the right tools and fresh ingredients to give the guest an experience that changes the way they think about cocktails.
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to South Florida dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.