[Interview] Real Talk – The Bartender Series, part 5

…Continuing our Real Talk – The Bartender Series with part 5

THD: So what–we’ve got four craft bartenders here but you all make Martinis a different way?

YANI: Yes and no.

THD: They probably all taste different. So do you get, when -you make a Martini for somebody and it comes back saying, “You know what, I don’t like the way you guys made this.” Do you remake it doing it a certain way? Is that okay?



CHRISTIAN: But I feel, like, I always ask people for specifics.

YANI: The more specifics the better. If someone wants something specific, I would hope that they tell me it specifically. If they say I want–make me a drink, then there’s no boundaries.

THD: Right.

YANI: If someone says I want it like this… then there’s a certain expectation. They put it out there with a certain recipe or ingredients list for it.



ADRIANNE : I think everybody’s idea of a Martini is different too. Like, it’s been translated so many different times.

SHANE: Well, Martinis are so valid.

YANI: It’s the terminology as well.


SHANE: They think just because it comes in the glass that’s shaped like this–


CHRISTIAN: Oh, no, somebody says, “I just want a”–“I want a Martini.” “What kind of gin do you want?” “Oh, I want vodka.” See, I get that one right out of the way because it’s–

ADRIANNE : “That’s not a Martini.”

CHRISTIAN: “What kind of gin?”

CHRISTIAN: And how much vermouth. I mean, that’s my first two. And that eliminates 95 percent of the “I’m doing something different.”


THD: All right. A lot of these scenarios and questions are things that my readers have experienced. Personally, I’m always the person who says, “I want something else regardless of if I have to pay for something new.” But other people are perhaps not in a craft’s environment, and get something and maybe it’s a Daiquiri, maybe it’s like a Piña Colada or something like that, and they can’t taste the alcohol. Are you not supposed to taste the alcohol? Right? What do you do for that customer? “I can’t taste the alcohol in this.” Should the customer come to you and say, “I can’t taste what I think I should taste in this”?

YANI: It’s definitely the order and the item for the drink. Because certain drinks you should definitely taste alcohol. I am drinking a Rittenhouse with a spoonful of green Chartreuse, stirred neat. You should taste the alcohol in that, I would hope. You know, certain drinks like, you know, a Daiquiri should be more balanced, more–

ADRIANNE : Fruit forward.

YANI: –on an 11, on the level of fruit forward, citrus forward, or straw–whatever. Additional fruit.

SHANE: I guess that’s a word–and that’s a word, too, that I can’t–I’m just kind of thinking about it, the word Daiquiri, because what a cocktail on a menu, you know, and called it Daiquiri and I hate people–what people think a Daiquiri is, they immediately assume it’s sugary, sweet–

CHRISTIAN: It comes in a prefilled cone at a baseball stadium.

SHANE: –with strawberries and pineapples and–

SHANE: and a Daiquiri being just like lime juice essentially.

ADRIANNE : Yeah. Lime–

CHRISTIAN: Lime juice and rum and a little sugar.

YANI: Rum, lime juice, and a little sugar.

SHANE: Rum, lime–it’s simple.

THD: There is a place I used to work at where I was a server and many time customers would get a Margarita and or a Daiquiri and they’d say, “I can’t taste the alcohol.”

YANI: And–well, there’s two different kinds of customers. There’s customers that are looking to get super wasted, and there’s customers that are looking for a genuinely nice product.


YANI: And depending on where you’re coming from, whether or not you want to be that drunk guy, as long as you don’t come off that you’re that drunk guy, no bartender should ever have a problem with that.

SHANE: If I’m serving, like, a blended Piña Colada and you came up to me and said, “I can’t taste the alcohol.” I would say, “Well, for three dollars more, I’ll pour an extra shot.”

YANI: Absolutely.

SHANE: Yeah, like, I’ll pour more booze in your drink, you’re just going to pay for it because I put what I was allotted, you know, that’s–

CHRISTIAN: I feel like I got this question more in my previous job. The implication was that I stiffed them or, like, I didn’t hook them up. Or they wanted a double and they didn’t ask for one and that-I–

ADRIANNE : Everything’s measured.


SHANE: Well, in the craft world, yeah.

CHRISTIAN: Sure. And like, “I can’t taste any booze in my Jack and Coke.” “I poured the Jack Daniels in there. I don’t know. If you want more, it’s what you paid again.”

SHANE: And I think standard at a high volume, turn and burn, fast paced bar, an ounce and a quarter.

THD: And I thought it would usually be an ounce, though?

ADRIANNE : Most places do an ounce.

CHRISTIAN: Yeah, and that’s–you know, and that’s another, like, most customers don’t have an idea of what a pour is. You know, and they–and most–and every place changes.

ADRIANNE : Usually an ounce.

CHRISTIAN: Yeah, at like a club. Yeah.

SHANE: And a craft bar is going–is probably going to be two.

ADRIANNE : Yeah, it’s going to be more.

YANI: An ounce and a half or two is usually a nice even number. One-and-a-half or two.

ADRIANNE : Just give them more booze.


CHRISTIAN: And if you’re just trying to drink whiskey neat, we’ll offer the option, you know, and that way–I’ve had people–there’s no debate about it. I–it’s–I measured it, it’s written right there, it’s cut and dry.

ADRIANNE : And I don’t think you should be shy.   I’m not. When I go somewhere and I’m like, “I don’t want a sissy drink. I want something really strong. Don’t give me this weak cocktail. I’m here for a purpose.”

YANI: I think attitude is definitely a big deal. If you’re a total dick about it people are going to be a total dick back to you. If you’re like, “You know what, this is a great drink. I want to get drunk.” Or–

ADRIANNE : Yeah. Don’t order the Flower of Atlantis.

YANI: I want more alcohol.

THD: Flower of what?

ADRIANNE : Atlantis.

THD: Oh, I remember Atlantis.

YANI: The fish bowl.

ADRIANNE : Order like hair on your chest and then wake up half blonde.

SHANE: Well, that’s the thing too. Yeah. When they–if they order the, like, “I think this sounds good.” And it’s like, it could be the exact opposite of what you just said where they’re like, “I don’t want”–“I can’t taste the booze” where it’s like, “It’s too boozy.”

CHRISTIAN: Oh, yeah.

SHANE: I’m like, it tastes like straight alcohol.

YANI: This drink has too much alcohol in it.

SHANE: And you’re like, “Of course it tastes like alcohol because it has tons of alcohol in it.”

CHRISTIAN: Well, that’s what–I get that like with a Hemingway Daiquiri because they’ve had the TGI Friday’s Daiquiri but it’s–it’s like, it’s named after Ernest Hemingway, like, it’s–

YANI: He was an alcoholic.



The interviews in this series were conducted by VATO. The panelists include Yani M. Frye, of The Sugar House, Detroit, MI, Adrianne Martin, Beverage Director of Bigalora Royal Oak, MI and Southfield, MI, Shane Bang, of The Oakland Art Novelty Company in Ferndale, MI, and Christian Hetter, of The Berkshire Room in Chicago, IL.

In 2014, Shane was named as one of the “America’s 25 Best Bartenders” by The Daily Meal. In 2013, he was selected by Eater Detroit as the Bartender of the Year. Also, in 2013, Shane won the regional competition for the GQ Magazine / Bombay Sapphire’s Most Imaginative Bartender contest in Las Vegas, NV. For this event, GQ Magazine featured Shane in Season 1 of their America’s Bartender series. Shane is currently the President of the Greater Detroit chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild (USBG).

In 2013, Yani was the top winner of the Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge, and went on to represent the United States in the Global Cocktail contest in Trinidad.

Christian Hetter, was formerly from The Ravens Club in Ann Arbor, MI (at the time of the interview) and Balena in Chicago, IL.

Keep joining The Hungry Dudes for Real Talk – The Bartender Series on the coming Tuesday and Friday for parts 6 through 7.  Also, check out our Real Talk – The Chef Series, on Mondays and Thursdays.  We hope you enjoy these Series, and appreciate your feedback. As always, please don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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