Behind the bar with Amanda Olig of Vesta
Amanda Olig moved to Colorado in August 2005, right after the annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota. She worked as a promo girl for Premier Image for three years doing Jameson, Kahlua and Stoli promotions, then opened the Meadowlark in January 2006. She stayed there until August 2007, when she bartended at Vesta Dipping Grill's ten-year anniversary party, had a blast and begged executive chef Wade Kirwan for a job. "I interviewed, and have been happily working with Vesta ever since," she reports. Except during that one weekend every August when she returns to Sturgis, where she bartended four years running at One-Eyed Jack's Saloon until 2009, when she just "went up to party!"
Now serving: Amanda Olig of Vesta Dipping Grill.
How did you get into bartending? It was back in Omaha, Nebraska, when I spent a couple of extra nights at my favorite neighborhood bar before applying. I left my mall-rat days behind for good!
Do you have any rules when you're tending bar? I make the rules! Play nice or else...
What's the best/worst job you've ever had? Best, Sturgis Biker rally in 2005: super busy, fun and I met a ton of great people. Worst, bartending a Texas Hold 'Em game at a private home: These guys were confused. They hired a bartender, not a dancer!
What's the best tip you've ever received, either money or insight? I had a really great regular order a bottle of Dom Perignon with four glasses. Then he handed me back a flute of champagne with a $100 bill and simply said, "Cheers."
What's the weirdest thing you've ever seen while working? I saw an eighty-year-old woman bounce her breasts by tugging on a chain that connected her nipple rings. Sturgis. I guess you'd have to be there to appreciate it!
What do customers do that pisses you off? Anyone requesting a "heavy" pour. Order what you want: If you want a double, ask for it!
What's the best line you've ever heard to get a free drink? I've heard dozens -- but the most successful ones start with "I bet you a drink that...," and whatever finishes that sentence is pretty amusing. Now, that still doesn't mean the bartender will take the bet. It's all a gamble!
What is your favorite drink to make? Right now I'm really into Hot Toddies. It's a very comforting drink that is appealing to everyone, especially with the cold weather and flu season approaching.
What is your least favorite drink to make? Sexy Alligator. It's a huge shot, served up in a martini glass, that's a super-sweet concoction of Midori, Malibu and pineapple juice -- then sink Chambord and float Jäger. Yuck!
What's the weirdest drink someone has asked you to make? Drip/Grind. Not sure what inspired the name, but it's tasty! Two ounces of tequila (I prefer Corzo Blanco), 1/2 Pama liqueur and top with Sprite and soda.
How do you feel about cutting people off? Never really a problem for me. I currently teach TIPS classes that focus on responsible serving and utilizing customer-service skills to avoid overserving guests.
What's your favorite alcohol? Fernet-Branca. Delicious!
What's your favorite drink? I heart whiskey...alone or in a julep or Manhattan.
What's an alcohol you despise? Rumplemintz. It takes me back to a scary place: high school.
Other than your co-workers, who's the best bartender in Denver? "Mama," aka Texas Jen of Bender's. She's a beautiful woman and she doesn't sugarcoat anything!
Other than your own, what's the best bar in Denver? Osteria Marco. I like their traditional long bar.
Other than your own bar, where do you drink most regularly? After working a shift at Vesta, two words: Falling Rock. I also love neighborhood bars. Right now it's the Fainting Goat: great people, rooftop patio and yummy food, too!
What do you do in your spare time? Jog, bike, snowboard, shop and travel. I love Vegas.
Bartending competitions: Love them? Hate them? I love them. It's very interesting to see what other professionals in the industry are working with and what they are creating. Plus, it's cute to watch people get nervous as they are judged. Oh, the drama of it!
What would you tell someone who wanted to get into bartending? You have to put yourself out there if you want to get into a great bar/restaurant. Scout venues on a few different nights, talk with regulars at the bar, and don't get drunk!
If your employer gave you the keys and let you change anything about your bar, what would it be? I love my bar! But more cold storage space would be lovely!
Tell us one thing about tending bar that we might not know: "Light ice," an instruction that indicates you prefer a weaker ratio of booze to mixer and overall warmer drink.
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