Bar Talk With Jessica Youngblood at Dirty Martini in Palm Beach Gardens

Jessica Youngblood isn't just another one of the beautiful blond bartenders at Dirty Martini, the new upscale lounge in Palm Beach Gardens that serves some pretty amazing drinks, food, and entertainment.

The 22-year-old Vero Beach native is also "the baby" of the bunch, the youngest on staff. And she isn't what you'd expect. 

She's incredibly sweet -- sweeter than her favorite Twizzler martini -- and has quite a range of talents, bartending included.

To find out what makes this martini-mixing bartender smile, read on...

Clean Plate Charlie: When and where did you start bartending?

Jessica Youngblood: I started serving in Vero Beach when I was 16. I worked at the Vero Beach Resort. Then, a few years later, they were short bartenders. They decided to start training me and put me behind the bar. I actually wanted to bartend, so it worked out.

When did you move to West Palm Beach?

I've only been in West Palm for about eight or nine months. I moved sometime around Thanksgiving. 

What brought you here?

I was actually at school before... and when I moved back [to Vero Beach], there weren't many jobs to choose from. It's definitely a retirement community. So I came down here and started working. And it was a big change from Jonesboro County [in Arkansas]. It's a dry county, so it's kind of funny that I'm bartending again now.

A dry county... what did you do for fun?

I spent my weekends riding and competing. My parents own a ranch, and I grew up [competing]. When I was going to school, I was runner-up in the 2010 Arkansas State Fair rodeo.

So you went to school in Arkansas?

I went to the State University of Arkansas for public relations.

Has it been tough to find a job in PR?

Well, I haven't finished school yet. I only have one semester left, and I'm planning on bartending while working through the last of my classes. My plan is to start Florida Atlantic University in the fall.

Dirty Martini just opened a few weeks ago -- where were you before that?

I started out at Kona Grill in CityPlace, and was going to move to Carlos and Charlie's when it opened [in CityPlace just over a month ago], but then I heard [Dirty Martini] was hiring. Whenever a new club or bar is opening, everyone in the biz is talking about it. There's always a lot of buzz.

I heard that training was pretty intense... Was it tough getting the job?

Yes, it was very rigorous! Three weeks straight of tests, learning the drink menu, and how to make everything the exact right way. And I'm the youngest bartender here -- the baby -- while everyone else has been in the biz for years. So I was really excited when they offered me a job. [The owner] runs a really tight ship, and it's important to him to provide a quality experience and product, so they drill that into our heads. I can practically recite our mission statement...

How has it been at Dirty Martini so far?

Great! We've been so busy, and it's not even season -- it's summer! And I don't know very many places where you can get a premium martini for such a fair price. During happy hour, you can get Grey Goose for $6 to $7. That's a good deal.

What is your happy hour?

It's 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily, and that's Monday through Sunday. You can order pretty much all of our signature and specialty martinis for half-price, as well as select food items [anything on the menu under $10 is 50 percent off during happy hour].

There's dozens of specialty martinis on your menu. What's your favorite one so far?

Oh, that's tough. I love Lemon Drop martinis, and ours is even better than most because we make it with Grand Marnier ($14). Our Smith Apple (Finlandia vodka, Sour Apple Schnapps, fresh apple juice, garnished with a cinnamon stick, $12) and Berry Pomegranate (Three Olives berry vodka, Pama pomegranate liqueur, pomegranate juice and garnished with seasonal berries, $14) are good too, but I'd have to say the Twizzler (Stoli strawberry vodka, Three Olives cherry vodka, fruit juices and garnished with a Twizzler straw $12) is my favorite. It tastes just like one, but it's still pretty strong. There's four ounces of alcohol in there! Just a few of those will have you pretty buzzed.

With so many yummy drinks, I bet it's a lot of ladies in here, right?

It's funny, but I've noticed a lot of guys coming in and drinking these girly drinks. And a lot of people who are ordering their first martini -- especially the guys. But, hey, if you're coming to a martini bar, you need to be ordering a martini.

Guys ordering pink martinis... now this I have to see...

Yeah, well a lot of them go for one of our [five] dirty martinis. They really get a kick out of the Charlie Sheen (Three Olives vodka, dry vermouth, and dirty martini mix garnished with three blue-cheese-stuffed olives, $14) or the George Clooney (Finlandia vodka, dry vermouth, and dirty martini mix garnished with three martini olives, $14). It's great, because these drinks are strong. They don't realize that, and it only takes a few to get even the biggest guys spinning.

Sounds like a fun place to work...

It is! I feel so lucky to work here. I'm not much of a club person, and thankfully that's not what we're about. You know, attracting the volume or the crowds. Here, it's about the service. This is an upscale martini bar and lounge -- a really classy place -- and I like that. But you can still have a good time. We have live music every night, and where else can you go where there is a nice older crowd next to the hip, young people?

Anything crazy happen at work yet? Guys hitting on you, I'm sure...

Always. I've got stories. Mostly, people will ask some crazy questions, like if I have fake boobs. And I got a pretty funny line last night. Some guy goes to me, "You're hard to look at." I was honestly offended. Then he goes, "You know how sometimes it's hard to look at the sun? You're like that." It was ridiculous. But mostly, it's the older guys hitting on me. The 70-year-old men asking me out and telling me I need a sugar daddy.

What do you say?

I'm always nice. I can't be mean! I just tell them I have a boyfriend. And I do!

So where do you go when you're out?

I love downtown Delray Beach, places like Dada. Or places like Guanabanas and Square Grouper, where I can go during the day and be outside and get some sun.

It sounds like you don't go out much...

Not really. Like I said, I'm not a clubber. Plus, I have fun when I'm here; I don't want to go out. I get to work the stage bar [where the live music comes on at 8 p.m. daily]. It's like being out every night! And I get paid to enjoy it all. So when I have a day off, I want to spend it with my friends or family. 

Well, we'll gladly come and spend a night hanging out at the stage bar with you! One Twizzler martini, please....

Follow Clean Plate Charlie Facebook on Twitter: @CleanPlateBPB.

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Nicole Danna is a Palm Beach County-based reporter who began covering the South Florida food scene for New Times in 2011. She also loves drinking beer and writing about the area's growing craft beer community.
Contact: Nicole Danna