Behind the bar with Jimmy Zanon of Lola

Jimmy Zanon grew up in Oregon, and in 1998 moved to Colorado for college. He fell in love with both his future wife and the restaurant business here and decided to stay in Denver, where you can currently find him behind the bar at Lola.

Now serving: Jimmy Zanon.

Do you have any rules when you're tending bar? Don't drink more than your customers.

How did you get into bartending? I started shucking oysters behind the bar at Jax and really liked the atmosphere.

What's the best line you've heard to get a free drink? "Can I have a free drink?"

What's the most memorable pickup line you've heard? "I try to be like the Dos XX guy!" Sammy Hagar actually said that to one of our servers.

What's the weirdest drink someone has asked you to make? Virgin caiparinha. I think a lot of people don't get that the spirit in a cocktail is there for a reason and is an integral part of the drink. Without the cachaca, a caiparinha is just lime and sugar, and doesn't make for a very good non-alcoholic drink.

What's the weirdest thing you've seen while working behind the bar? A lady actually urinated on herself at our bar one time, and it splashed the guy sitting next to her. Pretty bad.

How do you feel about cutting people off? There is an art to it, and it is a very necessary part of our job.

What's your worst cutting-someone-off story? At a restaurant where I used to work, a guy pulled up the wrong way at the meter out front, stumbled in and ordered a beer. I told him I couldn't serve him any alcohol and asked if he'd like anything to eat or a glass of water. He said no and headed for his car. I jumped out from behind the bar and asked him not to drive, told him I would call him a cab -- and then spent the next five minutes begging him not to drive. He told me to F off and sped off down the street.

What do customers do that pisses you off? Snap at you to get your attention.

With co-workers, what is your bartender pet peeve? Not keeping a clean bar. Clutter is no bueno.

How many times do you have to see someone at your bar to consider them a regular? Enough to know their drink, name and/or habits. I don't think frequency has to be a determining factor. A lot of people have different schedules and come seasonally or when time or money allow.

What's your favorite alcohol? Tequila.

What's an alcohol you despise? Amaretto.

Other than your own bar, where do you drink most regularly? Zio Romolo's Alley Bar.

What do you do in your spare time? Snowboard, mountain bike, hunt, hang out with my wife.

If your employer gave you the keys and let you change anything about your bar, what would you change? With the right amount of time, I would like to widen the work area behind my bar. It would be a huge project and would require a redesign of the layout of our restaurant. Other than that, I have quite a bit of freedom to make changes.

What's the most fun you've ever had while working? That's a tough one. I like charity events because everyone is there for a good cause and it's not about them. People get the bigger picture.

What's the best tip you've ever received, either monetary or insight? Never kick a fresh turd on a hot day!

What would you tell someone who wanted to get into bartending? Get in at a good bar/restaurant and find a mentor. Experience and education are key.

Tell us one thing about tending bar that we might not know: Don't ask a bartender when he or she is going to get a real job. It's a huge insult. This is a real job!

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Nancy Levine
Contact: Nancy Levine