10 Questions: Jon Bryan

Categories: Ten Questions
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Patrick Michels
Hell with all this 'mixologist' talk. After 16 years behind a bar, Bryan calls himself an inebriation specialist.

The Grapevine's longstanding early shift bartender--he signed on in 1998--knows most people in the joint by name...or he will, if you show up again. His casual, chatty and honest style fits in with the city's favorite cosmopolitan dive.

Maybe that's experience showing. He started bartending at a Red Lobster in Shreveport. Since then, he's worked at Angry Dog, Sol's, Doublewide and any number of other places around Dallas.

Somehow, through it all, he managed to snuff out his urge to kill Sarah Jessica Parker...

1. So do all bartenders hate making martinis?
No...uh, well--it depends. If you're five deep at the bar, it will back you up. But I got over getting mad at drink orders years ago.

2. How long does it take for you to get over it?
Let's see...I've been bartending for 16 years. Oh, once you realize nothing really matters.

3. What makes The Grapevine so unique?
The people--and the people who founded the place. They started out as a wine bar, but they listened to the customers. People wanted a neighborhood place. So we've had a consistent clientele over the years.

4. It's sort of the anti-pretentious place...
There used to be a sign: 'leave your attitude at the door.' Then we got a new door. But there's no velvet rope or valet parking yet.

5. What's your favorite upscale lounge?
Probably Inwood. Well, Terilli's. I know it's a restaurant, but the bar is great.

6. Is there a drink you steer people away from?
You know, it used to be the Cosmopolitan. First, it's a martini. But you have the cranberry and you have to do the garnish. I wanted to kill Sarah Jessica Parker. But like I said, it doesn't bother me now. I make a damn good Bloody Mary, and those things are fucking labor intensive.

7. Labor intensive...is that why the classics went out of style?
I don't know. It's like the flips. You're working with egg whites. I bet the volume of customers was the same back then--you know, in the 20s. But we don't have space to store that stuff.

8. Is it fun conversing with drunks?
It depends. Some are very witty. Some cross the line and become idiots. They can grate on your nerves after awhile--it's boring hanging out with drunks when you're sober. But drunks are fucking entertaining.

9. How difficult is it to break up fights?
The best way is to stop it before it starts. You hear it start--the yelling, the cussing--and you get one party out the door. It's also keeping people from getting too intoxicated. The best way is to call in your 320-pound door man. But I haven't had to deal with a fight in two years.

10. Measured pour or count?
Count. I think a measure pour leaves nothing in the customer's eyes. People see you measure and they think they're being cheated. A free pour looks like more. Plus, people that tip more...
 
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