Eater Maine contributor Natalie Ladd recently chatted with Kelly Geary, who's been tending bar at Gepetto's at Sugarloaf full-time (and then some) during ski season for so long no one remembers quite when she started. She double dips as Director of Operations for D.L. Geary's Brewing Company, Maine's first micro/craft brewery, which will soon celebrate its 30th year of making ales. Oh, D.L. is her dad and he sat in on the interview and piped in his two cents.
Here's what the two had to say:
You're stuck on a deserted island with one drink, one glass of wine and one beer. What are they?
KG: That's easy. Tito's Vodka and soda with a lemon, Hot to Trot red (a blend from 14 Hands out of Washington State) and Geary's Pale Ale, obviously.
I know you're not exactly sure when you started at the Loaf, but when did you first start tending bar, and where?
KG: I don't know how old I was but it was at the Bar of Soap. It was a laundromat in town with a bar in the basement that served beer and wine.
Were you old enough?
KG: Probably not!
D.L.: Oh yeah, you had to be at least 18. That was age back then. The Bar of Soap was a great place.
What's your favorite off-the-grid bar?
KG: Commercial Street Pub.
D.L.: You gotta love the saloon. I try and get to all of them that carry our beer at some time or another.
You're about to get your butt kicked up at the mountain. What do you most dread about bartending during the height of ski season?
KG: Washing all those glasses by hand.
You mean the old three-sink "wash, rinse, sanitize" and not unloading a dishwasher or rack of glasses washed in the kitchen?
So, you're literally the Chief Bottle Washer up there, but what's your dream job when not living that special dream?
KG: Owning a restaurant at Sugarloaf. A pub-like place up there with brick walls and exposed plumbing.
D.L. (with half a smirk): Yeah, farm-to-table, artisanal, organic, all that stuff that's happening right now.
What's your biggest pet peeve in the co-worker department?
KG: When the kitchen plays their music louder than they should. Also, when people don't pull their weight. It's hard when you care about what you do and other people don't.
D.L.: As a customer, I hate when I walk in and there's a hen party behind the bar.
What mixed drink never should have been invented?
KG: Old Fashioneds, or anything I have to muddle. I hate the kiddy amateur drinks too.
D.L.: Mojitos. Or any of those froo-froo drinks.
What's your worst customer experience to date?
KG: This is gross but there was a woman who threw up in her glass and drank it. She wasn't "all that drunk" her friends said. It was crazy.
What's different about being a bartender now from when you first started?
KG: People are trying new things more. Bartenders are mixologists. Infusions, punches and crazy ingredients. Really, that's why I like Commercial Street Pub, nothing changes there.
D.L.: Nothing's different. It's still just booze and money. Except for the tattoos all over the place. That's different from 25 years ago.
What advice do you have for someone starting their first bartending job?
KG: Just take a deep breath when it gets busy and don't sweat the small stuff. It takes time.
D.L.: The best bartenders are the ones with their heads on swivel. They don't miss anything. They greet you, they know the menu and they make you feel welcome.
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Kelly and D.L. Geary. [Photo: Natalie Ladd]