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Categorized | Bartender Interviews

Bartender Interview: Jeffrey Morgenthaler

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Jeffrey MorgenthalerJeffrey Morgenthaler is a bartender, blogger and designer who will soon be famous for establishing Repeal Day as the nations drinking holiday. He tends bar at El Vaquero in Eugene, Oregon. "The food is eclectic and focuses mainly on Mexican-style tapas," says Jeffrey. "There are two of us who run the show behind the bar, seven nights a week. We’re passionate about mixology and make what I think are the very best drinks in town."

Why did you decide to get into bartending?

I actually didn’t make a conscious decision to get into bartending. I was 24, in college, and I needed a summer job. I had no idea it would turn into a career, I thought I would be an architect by now.

How did you go about getting your first bartending gig? Was it tough to land your first one?

Through the campus job center, I found – and was hired for – two jobs on the same day. One was bussing dishes in a little mom-and-pop restaurant. The other was bartending during the day at a neighborhood tavern. I’m naturally very shy and wanted to overcome my fear of speaking in public, so I decided I’d be a bartender for the summer. It ended up being a perfect fit, so I stayed there for four years.

What is your favorite drink to make?

I love to make any drink that someone feels strongly about having. Like all bartenders, I get mainly run-of-the-mill orders, so when someone comes in and wants me to make them a really fantastic Manhattan because they love Manhattans, that gets me pretty excited and I pour my heart into the drink.

What is your least favorite drink to make?

I don’t really have one. Sure, when we’re completely slammed and I get that order for a third round of six mojitos, it’s a bit of a hassle. But for the most part, people in our bar try to treat themselves to a drink that is of a standard they won’t find anywhere else. We love making drinks, any drink.

What is your bartender pet peeve?

I think my biggest pet peeve is when people make it hard for me to slow down their intake, or cut them off completely. Making the decision to stop taking someone’s money isn’t something we like to do in any business, but I am both legally and psychologically responsible for you if you leave my bar and hurt yourself, or – God forbid – hurt another person. I wish it were easier for people to realize that I’m trying to do the right thing.

What’s the most interesting/scandalous thing that’s happened to you on the job?

The first bar I worked in was a pretty rough-and-tumble place, and it was located in a pretty tough part of town. The bar was packed one night and someone came up to the bar to tell me that I had a problem at one of the tables. I went over to the spot to find this older guy, drinking beer alone from a pitcher, and vomiting under the table every few minutes. The truly shocking part was that he didn’t understand why I was kicking him out.

What’s the best line somebody has used to get a free drink from you?

A guy came in recently and told me that he just wanted to see the bar where his wife had gone on a date with another man, thereby ending their marriage. I even remembered the two. I felt heartbroken, as if I hadn’t made their time at my bar so enjoyable she would have just gone home. I poured the guy a huge shot of really expensive scotch and put it on my card.

What’s the most memorable pickup line you’ve heard?

For a couple of weeks I was working as a cocktail server at a gay nightclub. The DJ, who was a friend of mine, announced over the PA, "Our new cocktailer Jeff will be happy to get you anything you need." I glared across the floor at him and he repeated, "ANYTHING." Just then a table of men in their fifties motioned me over and one of them asked, "Can I get a pint of YOU?" I looked at him and deadpanned, "You’re seventy-five years old, is that the best you can do?" His friends erupted in laughter as I walked back to the bar.

Who would YOU want to have a drink with and why?

Paul Harrington was a brilliant bartender and wonderful writer ten years ago. His book, Cocktail: The Drinks Bible for the Twenty-First Century is often the first place I turn for drink information. Sadly, he seems to have dropped off the face of the planet. I’d love to have a Sidecar with Paul and not only pick his brain about classic cocktails, but also about being a writer. It’s a dream of mine to write my own book and inspire a generation of bartenders as he has done.

Tell us one thing about tending bar that we might not know.

It’s five hours of fun, sandwiched between three hours of cleaning!

For more bartending wisdom from Jeffrey, check out his awesome blog JeffreyMorgenthaler.com.

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5 Comments For This Post

  1. Symbian Says:

    Where to find book “Cocktail: The Drinks Bible for the Twenty-First Century”?

  2. Woody Leon Says:


  3. Writing Guide & Info Says:

    How can i learn copywriting so i can start doing freelance jobs online and offer mye to ask? I want to learn copywriting to offer the service to people and do freelance jobs. So do any of you guys know any good guides or websites to learn copywriting?

  4. Garfield Smay Says:

    This is a amazing blog, im glad I stubled onto this. Ill be back again in the future to check out other posts that you have on your blog.

  5. Hazlenut Says:

    Thnx for taking the time to post this Jeff. . .Appreciate it very nice work

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