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Ask a Bartender: What Do You Sip During Your Shift?

Chris Amirault of The Eveleigh in Los Angeles

Some bartenders fuel their shifts with espresso—others, with beer and shots of Fernet. Everyone's style is different. We asked bartenders across the country: What do you sip during your shift?

Jen Queen from Saltbox Dining & Drinking in San Diego.

"Fernet!" — Jen Queen (Saltbox Dining & Drinking)

"I usually try to stick with water or non-alcoholic ginger beer when I'm working, but I do enjoy the occasional DTO (daiquiri time out). My favorite DTO is English Harbor 5 year rum, lime, cane syrup, a dash of Angostura, and a barspoon of Earl Grey–infused Amontillado sherry." — Chris Amirault (The Eveleigh)

"'Café Nico' double espresso, half-and-half, vanilla, cinnamon, and orange zest." — Brandon Lockman (Red Star Tavern)

"Coca tea or yerba mate." — Jaime Pait (E&O Asian Kitchen)

"Are you kidding? My bosses will read this!" — Kevin Thurston (Snack EOS)

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Tyler Drinkwater from Harlow in NYC

"One of my former bar managers instructed me to drink the following: half club soda, half still water with a mix of lemon and lime juice. It keeps your voice intact and is obviously a good dose of Vitamin C. Additionally, if you've had a long night prior to your shift, mix in some bitters and it's one hell of a cure." — Tyler Drinkwater (Harlow)

"Daiquiris and shots." — Kevin Peters (Golden Cadillac)

"Espresso, and lots of ice water. I know there are many bars that are fine with bartenders drinking, and for some venues that works. But when I have 4 hours down, and 4 to 6 hours more to go, the last thing I need is to dull the blade." — Dan Bronson (The Strand Smokehouse & Crescent & Vine)

"Absolutely nothing! But after I leave the bar..." — Juan Coronado (The Bazaar by Jose Andres at SLS Hotel South Beach)

"When I'm behind the bar I often forget to stay hydrated, so I like to concoct variations of sparkling water and bitters combinations with dashes of fresh juice to keep me going. As far as spirits go, at La Urbana we have 57 mezcals and counting. I often taste different mezcals to keep up with the different flavor profiles, production methods, and types of agaves they are distilled from." — Trent Simpson (La Urbana)

"A lot of water, first and foremost. I also tend to take the occasional nip of rum, whiskey, tequila, or mezcal. I actually love behind-the-bar shots and drinks. I'd love to do a whole night or menu, themed after them, somewhere. My first cocktail, the Golden Delicious, was born for this purpose. It's Applejack, lemon, and honey. Simple and, of course, delicious. Others, not mine, but a lot of fun and very tasty, include the Hard Start, which is equal parts Fernet Branca and Branca Menta, from Prime Meats, where I worked for a couple years; and the CIA, which consists of Cynar and Applejack. There are a ton of them, and they are often the beginning of the creative process for bartenders, at least in my case." — Jim Kearns (PLAY)

Johnny Drum 101

Justin Fairweather from Evelyn Drinkery in NYC

"Fernet and Stone IPA." — Justin Fairweather (Evelyn Drinkery)

"Single malt Scotch or anejo tequila, neat in a glass." — Erik Sorensen (Freddy Smalls)

"Sometimes whiskey, mezcal (pechuga as a treat), and I love Krogstad Aquavit too!" —Brian Means (Fifth Floor)

"Club soda and coffee. (Not in the same glass.) If I'm at a bar where booze isn't verboten, beer and baby shots of Fernet Branca or tequila. I prefer being the most sober person in the room while working, and I dislike the idea of my bank being off because I was impaired." — Scott Brody (Presidio Social Club)

"Stumptown Coffee's 'Hair Bender.'  It is a great way to start the night." — Kris Doyle (Trattoria Neapolis)

"I drink a lot of coffee, and I also drink Roy Rogers—like a Shirley Temple, but made with cola instead." — Gianni Cionchi (FishTag)

"Water... are you trying to get us in trouble here?! Or do you mean when the shift is winding down? If that is the case, a sip or two of Green Chartreuse or a nice bourbon." — Jimmy Marino and Stephen Shelton (The Lexington House)

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