As Westword's Ask the Bartender columnist, I've talked with many bartenders for Cafe Society's "Behind the Bar" series, posing numerous questions to Denver's top bartenders...and often receiving the same answers: "I love chartreuse," or "I'm really into smoked cocktails/barrel aging/bottled cocktails."
Some time ago, a Facebook friend posted 25 things about himself that most people weren't aware of -- and then he tagged me in the post, at which point I was supposed to do the same: rattle off 25 little-known facts about myself and ask someone else to follow suit. Instead, I'm asking Denver's bartenders to get up and close with Westword readers and share 25 lesser known tidbits about themselves -- and then name the next bartender that I should interview.
Last week, when I interviewed Ryan Layman, the bartender at Steuben's, he suggested that Melissa Durant, the bartender at Acorn, which will open within the next week at the Source, would be a good bet. I first met Durant a few years ago when she was behind the bar at Green Russell. I wasn't sure what to order, so I went with my default: a blanco tequila, neat. Throughout the night, she made some great cocktails, and it was a joy to watch her work. A year or so later, I judged an Iron Chef-style cocktail competition in a strip club, and Durant dominated three rounds of challenges, taking home the top prize. She's since become one of the more recognizable figures in Denver's bartending community, and in the following interview, she reveals that she's a real-life valley girl, in love with Bruce Springsteen and has weird tastes when it comes to food.
Herewith, 25 things you never knew about Melissa Durant
1. I was born in Fresno, California. Fresno is located in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, which is part of the larger Central Valley. I'm technically a true California valley girl.
2. I went to Fresno State for my first year of college. I was a cheerleader.
3. While I was a cheerleader, I got to watch one of the best college football games ever...from the field. It was Fresno State versus USC in 2005, and It was Reggie Bush's senior year. It was a close game, but USC won.
4. When I was in college, I studied philosophy and religious studies. I wanted to be a college professor.
5. I have an all-black cocker spaniel named Bruce Wayne. He's Batman and he's afraid of the water. He'll actually go around a puddle when we're out walking.
6. I hate cheese. It's a textural thing.
7. Speaking of textural things, I have a lot of strange eating issues, including mushrooms, spinach and cheese, all of which I think are rubbery and weird.
8. I'm a spelling fanatic, mostly about using the correct spelling for the correct word. Confusing "to," "too" and "two" and "their," "there" and "they're" are the ones that really annoy me. C'mon, people, we learned this in the second grade.
9. I'm allergic to fresh ginger root, but cooked ginger doesn't affect me.
10. I truly believe that a shower can fix any problem I have. That said, when I get out of the shower, I realize that nothing has changed.
11. I'm more than a little addicted to chapstick. I think I have five sticks of Burt's Bees floating around right now, if not more.
12. Melissa means "Honey Bee."
13. I bleached my entire head of hair right after I graduated from high school. It looked awful and my mom hated it. Nonetheless, I kept it that way for a few months.
14. I got my first tattoo on my eighteenth birthday.
15. I hated my freckles as a kid. I never knew you could grow into your own skin so much.
16. I have a tattoo that incorporates one of my freckles. I didn't ask the artist to do it, but I was so excited when I saw the finished piece. It's still one of my favorite things.
17. I can -- and will -- accidentally cut myself with anything. I once sliced my hand open with a soup spoon. No joke. Sharp objects aren't my friend. Dull objects, apparently, aren't either.
18. I met Florence Henderson when I was in second grade. I had no idea who she was. Luckily, there was a Brady Bunch marathon on TV later that day and my dad pointed out that the mom was the lady I met earlier.
19. I met Florence Henderson again at the Indy 500. She sang the National Anthem and my dad was one of the race car drivers.
20. I grew up at a race track. My dad was a race car driver until I was in seventh grade.
21. Bruce Springsteen really is "The Boss." I went to my first concert last summer, and I think I'm in love. He's just so cute, shaking his butt in those tight pants.
22. I have awful taste in music. It's really bad. I listen to '80s music like it's my job.Yes, Billy Ocean included.
23.The first scary movie I ever watched was The Shining. Needless to say, I was afraid of hotels and bathrooms for a while....I might still be. I HATE scary movies.
24. I stuffed my bra in the fifth grade...and got caught. It was a rough day.
25. I really love singing Celene Dion in my car. I pump up the volume and belt it out, but don't bother listening, because I have an awful singing voice.
P.S. Durant wants us to know 25 things about Kade Gianetti, a bartender at Linger.
Missed one of my interviews with a Denver bartender? Read the rest of them below.