Bartender Q&A: Kelsey Simon on Inhaling Alcohol Fumes and Miami Vice

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Tending bar tends to be an extrovert's game.

You have to deal with other staff members and chat to dozens, if not hundreds, of customers on a daily basis -- it's almost like being onstage.

For the most part, you're not going to find many shy people behind the bar, unless they've learned to get over their shyness by jumping straight in, says self-proclaimed introvert and mixologist extraordinaire Kelsey Simon of Tin Fish.

Clean Plate Charlie spoke to her about learning to socialize and some really strange drinks.

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Clean Plate Charlie: Where are you from?

Simon: I grew up in Palm City. I went to Martin County High. Florida girl, born and raised!

How long have you been in the industry?

I've worked in the industry since I was 15. I started bartending about three years ago.

I knew I wanted to be a bartender when I discovered the creative aspect of the job, and the happiness that I can bring to someone, even if it's just for a moment.

Favorite drink to make?

Something I come up with on the fly. When a guest asks me to surprise them, I ask them a few questions to find out their tastes; then I improvise. The excited look on their faces after their first sip is one of my favorite parts of my job.

Least favorite drink to make?

Miami Vice. Ugh, It's half piña colada and half strawberry daiquiri. Frozen drinks in general are a pain in the buns.

Strangest drink requested?

Bacardi 151 and Chambord set on fire in a snifter. He wanted to "inhale the alcohol fumes."

What's your favorite spirit?

Tequila; me gusta margaritas.

What's your favorite thing to drink after work?

Honestly, beer; I'm kind of a beer nerd and love to try new things on draft.

What is your favorite place to drink after work?

I have a place for every night of the week; each bar offers specials on certain nights. O'Shea's is an Irish pub that does $3 carbombs on Thursdays. I'm a fan.

What's the best pickup line you've heard at the bar?

Him: What winks and makes love like a tiger?

Me: I don't know.

Him: [winks]

I laughed much harder than I should have.

The worst?

"Hey, baby, got any raisins? No? How about a date?"

If someone comes in and orders a Miami Vice, I instantly know they've never been a bartender.

Biggest pet peeve while working?

Coaster rippers. You know who you are!

Who is your favorite local bartender?

Brittany and Church at Lost Weekend. They're both pals, they know what I like, and sometimes they pour drinks while doing piggy-back rides.

If I wasn't a bartender, I would be an introvert. Bartending definitely taught me how to socialize and be more outgoing. People are just people; they shouldn't make you nervous.

Favorite kind of bar customer?

Someone who is open to trying new things. I usually have the most fun with open-minded people.

Least favorite kind of bar customer?

Guys that obnoxiously hit on me all night and leave their phone number on the credit card slip next to their 87 cent tip.

If you could make a drink for anyone, who would it be? And which drink do you think would suit them?

I would have loved to serve Walter White a Dimple Pinch, neat.

Favorite thing about bartending?

The fact that no two shifts are ever the same. I don't know if I'd ever be satisfied with sitting behind a desk repeating the same mundane tasks over and over. I learn something new every single day.

Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.

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