Behind the Bar: Emily Quinn of Jalapeño Inferno

Emily Quinn may only be 22, but she's already made a name for herself as a bartender at Scottsdale's Jalapeño Inferno. After more than a year, the Arizona State University biochemistry student has a slew of regulars, some of who find out her schedule and make sure to come when she's working.

It's easy to see why. The affable young lady has no problem balancing chatting with customers in-between making drinks for servers, and she has a cheery attitude all the while.

She let us in on some of her experiences and warns that if you're in the area, you might get flashed by a senior citizen.

What's the best part of being a bartender? Getting to know all the people in the area and hear their life stories and all the drama that goes on.

What's the worst part of  being a bartender? When people come into the bar and don't know their limit. They might come in wasted and don't understand it's my legal responsibility what happens to them. I can't let them leave. I can't let them do anything without making sure that they're safe. It's just irritating. I used to get people who were slurring their words and asking for a drink, and it's like, 'No, I don't want to give you a drink.' And they get real angry when you cut them off. I've seen men throw glasses before.

What's your favorite cocktail to drink? A really good tequila, a really good shot of Don Julio 1942 or Don Julio Royale are my personal favorites. As far as a mixed drink, I'd have to say a Boss Margarita because it has fresh-squeezed lime juice instead of sweet and sour.

What's your least favorite drink? I hate vodka. Vodka's not my friend.

What's your favorite drink to make? I like all of them, but I don't like making the same things over and over again.

What's the craziest story you've ever heard? We've got this customer named Pat who's 80, and she comes in every day I'm working (she always asks me my schedule), and she's so nosy about your life and has to know everything. She's famous around here because she'll go around to the bank, the general store, different restaurants, and she goes up to people and goes, 'Have you seen an 80-year-old tit before?' And when people say 'no', she lifts up her shirt and says, 'Well, now you've seen two' and flashes people. Every time she comes in, there's some customer who says, 'I have to tell you about this lady.' I get it all the time.

What cocktail trends do you see becoming popular these days? People are looking for low-cal, low-sugar and fresh squeezed lime juice as opposed to sweet and sour. Tequila's becoming more and more popular. Before, people never really ordered a lot of tequila or knew a lot about tequila, but now a lot of our customers know a lot about it and are getting really into it.

What's the most expensive drink you've ever had? The Don Julio Royale. It's a $350 bottle. On my birthday, the owner bought me a shot. It was definitely worth it. I want a bottle for my house.

Why should people have you as their bartender? I know what good quality is, especially tequila. I know what direction to steer them in. When people come up to the bar and ask for a margarita, I don't just give them a house because they want a margarita on the rocks. I'll ask them a bunch of questions so I can build them a margarita they'll like and love and enjoy and come back.

What do you want to tell potential customers? Drink responsibly. If you're one of those people who gets crazy drunk, if you're that alcoholic, stay at home. Don't go out.

What are your goals as a bartender? I just want to make sure people leave happy.

What misconceptions are there about bartenders? I think the older generation might think, 'Oh, you're a bartender, you must be a party animal.' But I've met plenty of bartenders who don't drink at all. I'm not a big drinker. I can guarantee I'm asleep every night at 1 o'clock in the morning.

What's your advice for making cocktails at home? Fresh squeeze everything. Instead of going and buying OJ, buy an orange and squeeze it into your drink. Instead of buying Rose's lime, buy lime and cut it up and put it in your drink. It tastes better, and it's not as heavy (as the artificial stuff.)

What's your best hangover remedy? I've heard shots of Jäger. I personally can't do that, but everyone says shots of Jäger and bitters and soda. I've never tried it because when I'm hungover, I don't even want to think about alcohol.

For a recipe of the Boss Margarita, check back on Chow Bella tomorrow.


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