Josh Warner knows how to throw a party.
The 30-year-old bartender at Wildfish Seafood Grille at the Scottsdale Waterfront might have a taste for light and simple cocktails, but he's not light on entertaining skills.
After learning about what brought him to bartending, it's no wonder Warner is well-versed on what makes a good party--beyond making mass quantities of cocktails for friends, his passion for bartending is fueled by his thirst for conversation and getting to know new people.
What is your favorite thing about bartending? The interaction with the guests. There's more time to stand there and talk while you're doing things because they're right there. It's not like waiting tables, where you only have a couple of minutes then you have to walk away.
Do you have any good conversation starters? Especially living in Phoenix, I ask them where they're from, because nobody's from here and it's always interesting to find out where people are from. Since so many people are from the Midwest and I'm from Michigan, that's always a good connection.
Have you had any strange customer requests? Someone ordered a Bloody Mary with Jager instead of vodka once. They asked me to try it, but I just couldn't bring myself to taste it.
Are there any off-the-wall combinations you've come up with that were surprisingly good? I found a recipe in a magazine once for a drink with gin, lemon juice, a cherry liqueur and violet liqueur. Turns out it was delicious, it tastes like a Sweet Tart but you'd never guess it.
What is your favorite drink to make? I like to make the Dragon Berry mojito we serve here. It's got fresh, muddled strawberries on top of it, as well as dragon berry rum, so it's a really good, refreshing drink. Everybody loves it, and the strawberries make it so good.
What about your least favorite? Probably anything with Southern Comfort, it's just the smell of it. I got sick from it once and now I have to hold the bottle away from me when I pour.
Speaking of getting sick, do you have any hangover cures? A good greasy breakfast.
What is your favorite drink to drink? Tanqueray and tonic. It's so refreshing. Just light and crisp and easy to drink.
If you and your friends were throwing a party, what cocktail would you serve? We usually have margaritas and sangria; we make huge water coolers full of them.
If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one cocktail, what would it be? Probably margaritas. I mean, if you're on an island it just seems appropriate.
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What is your favorite ingredient to use when you're experimenting with new cocktails? Flavored vodkas. There's a new one coming out every week it seems like, so you get fruits you've never heard of, like dragon berry, things like that.
What kinds of things inspire you when you're coming up with drinks? I just like to use stuff that's going to mask the alcohol but taste really good. You know, delicious but deadly drinks that you have no idea, then all of a sudden you start to stand up.