Behind the Bar with Randy Layman at Avenue Grill
Randy Layman began working at Avenue Grill seven years ago and convinced his twin, Ryan, to join him there four years ago. The identical (except for Ryan's longer beard) bartenders poured kick-ass cocktails together, doubling your fun, until November 1 -- when Ryan moved across the street to work with Sean Kenyon at Steuben's.
That leaves Randy the only Layman behind the bar at Avenue Grill, but he's a pro who can handle any request -- and question -- you throw at him.
Now serving: Randy Layman.
What's the best line you've ever heard to get a free drink? "I'm going to the Phish show. Can I get a free drink?"
What's the weirdest thing you've ever seen while working behind the bar? Blow job in the parking lot across the street. We walked outside and applauded when they were finished.
What's the weirdest drink someone's asked you to make? My very first day bartending, an octogenarian on oxygen asked me for a Bull Shot (vodka and beef bouillon, chilled). It was 11:30 in the morning: breakfast of champions.
What's your favorite drink to make? A Manhattan. There's a zen quality to the stir. Even on a crazy night, I feel calmed after I make a tasty Manhattan.
What's your least favorite drink to make? A Dirty "Martini." It's not even a martini; it's a glass of alcoholic brine. Ugh.
How do you feel about cutting people off? It may be the most important part of my job. I've always been wary of bartenders who shy away from it. Everybody wants to dance with the Devil; it's the bartender's job to pay the band.
What's your worst cutting-someone-off story? After I refused to serve a scruffy (relatively young) homeless guy, he called the police, using his hand as a telephone. He claimed he owned the bar, the utility company and the land the bar was sitting on. It took thirty minutes to get him out of the building.
What's the most memorable pickup line you've heard? "You're the gay one, right?" I have a twin brother who tended bar with me, and the boys get their hopes up. Sorry, we both like the ladies and have beautiful ladies at home that (lucky for us) like us as well.
How many times do you have to see someone at your bar to considered them a regular? When I know someone's name, they're a regular -- two visits or two hundred.
Do you have any rules when you're tending bar? Don't get drunk, enjoy everyone's company, find some way to improve yourself and don't take anything personally.
If your employer gave you the keys and let you change anything about your bar, what would you change? I wouldn't change a thing. Without the Avenue Grill as a platform, I would have never been able to become the barman I am today.
What's your favorite alcohol? Whiskey, American.
What's your drink of choice? A Manhattan. A nicely made Sazerac is a close second.
What's one alcohol you despise? Vodka. It's so boring.
What's the most fun you've ever had while working? Bartending events with guys like Sean Kenyon, Mike Henderson or anybody else from the Colorado Bartenders Guild is always a blast. This year's Taste of the Nation event at Mile High Station was pretty great. Learning something from someone you have respect for is a great bonus for a day's work.
Other than your co-workers, who's the best bartender in Denver? Sean Kenyon. I am lucky to work across the street from his bar. He looks out for everyone who shares his passion for the craft. A rising tide lifts all ships; he truly understands this.
Bartending competitions. Love them? Hate them? Love 'em! I always grow as a mixologist after a competition. Hate 'em! I always stress myself out because I want to wow the judges and my competition.
What do you do in your spare time? Family time; my wife and daughter are my favorite people in the world. Motorcycle rides are my favorite way to spend solo time. Sitting alone on a motorbike with only your thoughts is a great way to find yourself.
What's the worst/best job you've ever had? I was a trash man for a day, eight years ago. My buddy's stepdad needed some help. It was the hardest $100 I've ever made. My current job is the best job I have ever held. I get to hang out with people, educate them about what they are drinking and get paid. Not bad.
How did you get into bartending? I began working in restaurants when I was fourteen. I made pizza and served tables to fund my punk-rock dreams of playing music. Bartending was the natural progression in the restaurant world, and I was fortunate to end up behind a great bar.
What do you think of bartending school? If it's advertised on late-night television, don't waste your money. Find a bartender you like and try to get a job with them; you will learn far more washing dishes for a master mixologist than you ever would at 1-800-BAR-TEND.
What's the best tip you've ever received, either monetary or insight? Making mistakes is the most important part of your job, as long as you choose to learn from them. I can't remember who told me this, but it has always been part of my work ethic.
Tell us one thing about tending bar that we might not know. Everybody has a story. Bartenders will get to hear what spouses, shrinks and family may never know about their loved ones.
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