The Tender: Bruce Durack
The Bar: Los Sombreros (2534 N. Scottsdale Rd., 480-994-1799)
The Pedigree: Durack's a Scottsdale native and has been tending bar here since the tender age of 19. In the 35 years since, he's been everywhere from fish houses like the Salt Cellar and neighborhood places like Harry & Steve's Chicago Grill to fine Italian restaurants and night clubs. He even owned his own place for a while: the short-lived but well-liked El Camino Café. He's been mixing up margaritas at Los Sombreros for four months.
You guys have three new margaritas on the menu. Which is your favorite?
I like the passion fruit the best. I'm not a tequila drinker, and that's probably why. You don't taste the tequila quite as much.
You work here and you're not a tequila drinker?
Right! That's kind of odd, isn't it? I'm more of a pedestrian taste guy. Bourbon and beer.
What's kept you in this industry for 35 years?
It started as a way to put myself through college, but I couldn't get into law school, so decided to stay behind a different bar. I like the fact that it's something different every day, because you're always dealing with different people. Liquors, beers and wines have also evolved to keep things interesting. But mostly it's the people. It's never the same two days in a row.
How do you utilize all those years of experience?
I just talk to people to find out what they like and try to lead them into something that they haven't necessarily tried before but is made with ingredients they like. Most of what I do is feeling people out and trying to give them something a little different from what they're used to made with ingredients they're familiar with.
What's different about working here?
The food is unique, central Mexican. We don't have fajitas, we don't have chimichangas, we don't have cheese crisps. It's more sauce-based. We use a lot of moles -- chocolate and chilis. It's very unique and authentic.
Do you spend a lot of time mixing up new cocktails?
I think a lot of the tried and true cocktails have already been made. But there are so many new liquors coming out all the time that whenever something with a new flavor comes out, I'll start playing around with that to come up with something new.
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What's your favorite drink to make?
Here it's margaritas, because that's about 90 percent of what we do. But I also like to work with the infused liquors, those with fruit flavors, vanilla bean, cinnamon, all different flavors. Those are fun to work with because you can come up with a lot of different tastes instead of needing a myriad of fresh fruit right in front of you. It's already done for you.
If you weren't tending bar, what would you be doing?
I'd probably like to be a hunting guide somewhere in Wyoming or Colorado. I hunt whenever I can. I've hunted in Alaska, Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming. That would be kind of my dream job, to be doing something outdoors like that. My biggest kill was a caribou up in Alaska. Just last year I finally got pulled after trying for 25 years and was able to get an antelope in southern Arizona.
If you could have a drink with anyone, who would it be?
Probably Hugh Hefner. He'd be a great guy to have a drink with. We'd have to do it at his place, though.