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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Hey, Barkeep!: Good Oak Bar’s new bartender makes wine slushies and builds relationships with regulars

    Zi Yang Lai

    Bartender Alina Mouritsen pours a glass of wine at Unplugged Bar and Wine on Wednesday, Sept. 30. Mouritsen has bartended for eight months after working in the food industry.

    In this week’s edition of “Hey, Barkeep!” Alina Mouritsen talks about her first weeks at Good Oak Bar and how her past work experience has helped her. 

    The Daily Wildcat: How long have you been bartending?

    Alina Mouritsen: Here?

    Both, here and in general.

    So here: a couple weeks. In general, like eight months.

    Where else have you bartended?

    I bartended at Ermano’s on Fourth [Avenue.] And then I worked at Ten Fifty-Five at the tap room. So I guess I’ve only bartended with beer and wine, never spirits. 

    How do you like it here so far?

    I like it! Yeah, I’ve worked for the owner for like three years. I used to work at Diablo Burger. I started up in Flagstaff at Diablo Burger, and then I transferred down here, and yeah, I like it a lot. 

    Why did you decide to switch to bartending here instead of Diablo Burger?

    I got offered a job here, there was an opening and I had been more interested in learning about beer and wine than food. So yeah, I thought I’d try something new.

    I know you said you’ve only done beer and wine, but do you have a favorite drink to make?

    Yeah! Well, here I mean our wine cocktail and beer cocktail list is pretty small. I guess I like making Puddle Jumpers. It’s a red wine, sangria kind of served over shaved ice, so it’s like a slushie. So that’s fun; I get to use the shaved ice machine!

    Do you have any memorable customers?

    I mean, I don’t know that many customers yet because I’ve only been working here for a couple weeks, but we do have a really nice regular that’s been coming here since we opened. He actually was in here tonight. He’s just a nice, good, middle-aged guy. He usually comes in and has one beer. We give him all of his beers for $5 because he’s our most loyal customer. 

    What weird things have happened in the few weeks you’ve been here?

    Well we’re on Congress, so we get to see a lot of stuff happening down there. Congress can be kind of a weird area late at night. 

    What do you appreciate in a customer?

    Well, as you can kind of see, our whole concept is Arizona, so I really appreciate when a customer is open to trying things and open to learning about, say, a different style or a different take on a really traditional style of wine or beer. And obviously respect is really nice in a customer.

    What’s something that customers do that pisses you off?

    I really don’t like being called over by being snapped at. Big no-no. And just being rude in general or not tipping. 

    What’s your favorite part about working here or bartending in general?

    I do enjoy the customer interaction. Obviously I’ve been working in service for a long time. I’ve worked in restaurants since I was 15, so like nine years, so I really enjoy working with people. 

    Working here is really cool because we’re supporting all kinds of local wineries, local breweries and local farms. All of our food is [Arizonan] which is great. I enjoy the concept of this place—like a small bar where we do everything with integrity. All of our products—we know the people who make it and how they make it, and so that’s what I like.

    And is that what you meant when you said that your menu is all-Arizona?

    Yeah, … with a couple exceptions—like our potatoes we can’t get from Arizona, so we get those from Idaho—but all of our beers are from Arizona, and it’s cool because we know them, and if we go visit they’ll show us their system; show us how they make everything. It’s cool, it feels really community-based.

    Have you ever bartended any special events, here or at Ermano’s, or have you gone anywhere cool for bartending?

    Yeah, I did an event at Ermano’s; it was a Sand-Reckoner dinner. So our chefs prepared a six-course dinner, and then Sand-Reckoner Winery came, and they paired a different wine with each course, and we did it on a day that we were closed so [customers] bought tickets in advance. … It was really fun.

    What do customers do that makes your job more fun, or what keeps it exciting?

    Well, I like it when customers are having fun. … I like talking to people, so if a customer comes in and they are sitting alone on their phone, I would rather they talk a little bit, but that also depends on if I’m busy doing something.

    How do you think all the restaurant experience that you’ve had before has helped you with bartending?

    It has helped me learn time management, which is really important in bartending. And bartending is different than serving in a restaurant, in that serving, you develop this relationship with your table. It’s a longer relationship, and bartending, it can be just a 10-minute, five-, two-minute interaction, so you have to learn how to make that interaction positive, even if it’s really short and you don’t have the whole hour wine-and-dine and get to know them a little bit. It’s helped me learn how to prioritize things and how to multitask and establish a good connection with people in a short amount of time.

    Follow Emma Jackson on Twitter.

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