| Rants |

Ceviche Tapas Bar & Restaurant's Gary Burke on Gin, Hemingway's Drinking Habits

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Delray Beach is known for its burgeoning--or, well-established but still growing--culinary arts scene. So it should come as no surprise that South Florida's 'foodie city' comes stocked with a pretty decent cocktail culture too.

Ceviche Tapas Bar & Restaurant may be one of the newer spots to the neighborhood, but its bartenders know a thing or two about mixing up a drink.

See Also:

- First Look: Over 100 Small Plates at Ceviche in Delray Beach

- Top Ten Dive Bars in Broward County

Clean Plate Charlie decided to catch up with Ceviche's Gary Burke, who was recently shipped down from Tampa, to chat about his favorite drinks and least favorite pick-up lines.

Hometown/ High School?

Tampa, Florida / Tampa Bay Technical, graduated from Armwood High School

How long have you been in South Florida?

Approximately four months. I came down to open Ceviche Delray and never left. I fell in love with the people in this cute, little town.

How long have you been in the industry?

Four years in Hospitality

I knew I wanted to be a bartender when _______.

The opportunity to increase my repertoire presented itself. I have a firm belief in Aristotle's maxim that "All men by nature desire knowledge."

Favorite drink to make?

I enjoy making more elaborate drinks that I get to create. It makes me elated when guests trust me. This ensures my precision in the pours and my creativity in the aesthetic garnishes.

Least favorite drink to make?

The least enjoyable one to make is one that I am not familiar with and don't know HOW to make. There is no shame in not knowing more specialized recipes; however guests requesting these tend to be more particular in regards to this.

Strangest drink requested?

So far, I've been lucky. I have had a Lagavulin 12yr ordered with Red Bull. Who am I to judge?

What's your favorite spirit?

Favorite spirit would have to be gin. It provides a great base spirit for mixing cocktails, as well as for personal consumption.

What's your favorite thing to drink after work?

A few glasses (or a bottle) of a nice wine to wind down.

What is your favorite place to drink after work?

Usually at home or at a friend's unless I happen to get out prior to last call at the local bars.

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

"Excuse me, is this seat taken?" Simple yet unobtrusive, this shows you are polite and considerate. Smooth move, sir/ma'am.

The worst?

"I just wanted to let you know that you have really nice..." Sir, cupping your own chest did not help at all.

If someone comes in and orders a ______, you instantly think ______ about them.

If someone comes in and orders a single-malt scotch, I instantly think they are refined and know what they like, but perhaps that is because of my affinity towards them. Single-malts tend not to be for the faint of heart.

Biggest pet-peeve while working?

Customers irate that we do not carry their favorite brand just for them. But if a regular asks us to get something, that is often possible.

Who is your favorite local bartender? Any why?

Unfortunately I have yet to find the time to explore a lot, but the gentlemen at O'Connor's Pub have always been quite welcoming.

If I wasn't a bartender, I would be a ______.

Continuing my career in the Navy.

Favorite kind of bar customer?

My favorite kind of bar customer is a regular that is friendly and engages other patrons at the bar. They're at the bar for a good time, and are looking on having everyone around them enjoy it as well. Cheerfulness is the best promoter of health.

Least favorite kind of bar customer?

I don't believe in labeling a patron as high-maintenance. My position is to provide service. However, I dislike when customers rudely interrupt other patrons' needs and expect immediate service with priority.

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

Ernest Hemingway. As a notorious drinker, the influential author could help clear up some misconceptions about his habits and the many drinks inspired by him. A dry martini would suit him as it seemed to be a recurring motif in some of his works.

Favorite thing about bartending?

The ability to build up clientele based upon one's own prowess, as well as meeting new people with regularity which you may otherwise not have had the opportunity to.

Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.

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