Bartender Q&A: Kimberly Hilton of Red, the Steakhouse on Cognac and her Manhattan-Making Grandmother

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Some personal traits can be attributed to external influences -- others are passed down through the family.

When it comes to tending bar, some barkeeps find out for themselves they love mixing drinks, others pick it up from elder generations.

Kimberly Hilton of Red, the Steakhouse falls into the latter category; the New York-native learned how to make Manhattans from the best of them, her grandmother.

We chatted about her inherited skill-set, her favorite afterwork drink (hint: it's Cognac), and which drinks she hates to make.

See Also: Bar Stache Brings Cocktail Culture to Fort Lauderdale

Clean Plate Charlie: Where are you from?

Hilton: Sandy Creek, New York; I've been in South Florida for just over a year.

How long have you been in the industry?

16 years

I knew I wanted to be a bartender when _______.

I used to watch my grandmother make manhattans.

Favorite drink to make?

Any kind of martini; vodka mostly. It's versatile and more people seem to enjoy vodka drinks rather then a gin or tequila. Regardless, I love creating new drinks.

Least favorite drink to make?

None; I love my job.

Strangest drink requested?

Gin Fizz with a raw egg.

What's your favorite spirit?

Vodka; you can make a million different drink combinations with a great vodka.

What's your favorite thing to drink after work?

Cognac; it relaxes me.

What is your favorite place to drink after work?

South Beach, because I live in Miami. Some of my favorite places are Mansion, Clevelander, and Mangoes just to name a few.

What's the best pick-up line you've heard at the bar?

Does your left eye hurt because you've been looking right all day.

The worst?

Do you have any Irish in you? Do you want some?

If someone comes in and orders a Single Malt Scotch you instantly think they are sophisticated and cultured.

Biggest pet-peeve while working?

Rude people; I'm very friendly and it bothers me when people are mean for no reason.

Who is your favorite local bartender?

(Duh, I'm my favorite bartender...) Cindy at Nippers. She's very friendly and funny. She also comes into Red to see me.

If I wasn't a bartender, I would be a Movie star!

Favorite kind of bar customer?

Men; they are easy to talk to and they know how to tip. People who like to have fun are great customers.

Least favorite kind of bar customer?

People who don't want to have a good time.

If you could make a drink for anyone, who would it be?

My grandfather; and I'd make him a manhattan that is light on the vermouth, no cherry.

Favorite thing about bartending?

Meeting people and getting to hear about their lives; working near a hotel we get a lot of very interesting people that come in. Alcohol relaxes people, and you get to help people with their problems just by listening -- I love making people happy. Sometimes they are able to help me too, and it is a great way to network.

Red, the Steakhouse is located at 1901 N. Military Trail in Boca Raton. Call 561-353-9139, or visit redthesteakhouse.com.

Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.

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