Behind the Bar with Michael McGill of Osteria Marco
Michael McGill grew up in Kansas City and moved to Boulder for college, where he poured his first drinks. He has been behind a bar since 1998, and today can be found managing the bar at Osteria Marco in Larimer Square.
Now serving: Michael McGill. How did you get into bartending? I was serving tables at a sports bar in Boulder when one of the bartenders was sick and I got thrown behind the bar on Super Bowl Sunday 1998, when the Broncos won their second Super Bowl. It's still the most money I've ever made behind a bar. We had people buying pitchers of beer to pour on each other's heads after the Broncos won. Took two days to clean up the mess.
If your employer gave you the keys and let you change anything about your bar, what would you change? I'd put in new coolers so I could finally stop banging my knees on the door handles.
What do customers do that pisses you off? Whistle at me to get my attention. I'm not a dog.
How many times do you have to see someone at your bar to considered them a regular? Once should do.
How do you feel about cutting people off? I'm fine with it if they've truly had too much. The last drink of the night is always the one that makes you feel terrible the next day, anyway. You'll thank me in the morning.
What's one alcohol you despise? Southern Comfort. Awful stuff. I had a really rough morning after a great night in Vegas because of SoCo.
What's your favorite drink to make? That changes every day; we're coming up with new drinks daily in our place. Right now there's a lot of apple cider and peaches in our bar.
What's your least favorite drink to make? Silly shots. Anything involving whipped cream.
What's the weirdest drink you've been asked to make? Vodka and Diet Coke. I'll never understand people who think that tastes good.
What's your favorite alcohol? Yellow Chartreuse has become the poison of choice around our place lately -- but honestly, I usually just go for a beer.
What's your drink of choice? Guinness.
What's the most fun you've ever had while working? I had a great day years ago in Cherry Creek where I had a bar full of rock stars getting hammered on a Tuesday afternoon. That was a blast!
What's the best tip you've ever received, either monetary or insight? I was told once to never do anything you're good at for free. Also, a guy left me $500 on a $200 tab.
Co-workers aside, who's the best bartender in Denver? Sean Kenyon at Steuben's has done a lot to bring real cocktail culture to Denver, besides just making great drinks.
Your place aside, what's the best bar in Denver? The folks at TAG are making some of the best cocktails in town right now, but if you just want a shot and a beer with good people taking care of you, go to the Front Porch.
Other than your own bar, where do you drink most regularly? The Front Porch and Red Square.
Bartending competitions. Love them? Hate them? I've only done a few, never won one, but they are always fun. They're a good chance to meet other people in the business and network.
What would you tell someone who wanted to get into bartending? Get a job doing anything at the place you'd like to work, and work your way up.
What do you think of bartending school? Don't waste your time. Anyone can learn how to make a drink, but it takes practice behind a bar to be really good at every aspect of bartending.
What do you do in your spare time? Spare time is limited right now, since I have a baby on the way any day. But when I'm not behind the bar, I'm a photographer, shooting weddings and events around town.
Tell us one thing about tending bar that we might not know. It's mostly a lot of cleaning and heavy lifting.
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