Samantha Dickerson works the front of the house at Cowboy Ciao and Kazimierz, but we found her behind the bar at Kazimierz.
Both popular downtown Scottsdale haunts feature well-reputed wine lists, as well as classic and craft cocktails. We heard Samantha had recently entered her first bar competition so we went to chat her up and check out her cocktail creation.
How did you get your start?
I am from San Francisco, my brother wanted to buy and operate a sports bar. He asked me to come and help run it. One day it was, "you are the bartender."
Are you a bartender or a mixologist?
I started out as a bartender and grew into being a mixologist. Anyone can mix a drink, follow a recipe. Creating a cocktail you need to know how to layer flavors, that comes with experience.
What are your inspirations/influences?
Working here with Peter Kasperski, I had always wanted to be a part of this restaurant group. Peter has an extensive knowledge of wine, and of cocktail culture and wants to share that knowledge and understanding. For cocktails, the beverage should stand alone, no gimmicks, its about the liquor.
What's the best part of the job?
What's the worst part of the job?
The people! Really, it's the hours. You leave here at 2:30 am; it takes at least an hour to unwind once you get home. Maybe you get to bed by 4:30 am. The hours make it tough to maintain relationships with people not in the business.
What's the strangest request you've had from a customer?
A customer asked to borrow my shoes. Her feet hurt and she saw that I was wearing comfortable shoes. Yes, she was drunk.
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One glass of water for every drink. It works, but no one ever does this.
My cure is two Aleve and a gigantic bottle of water plus an ice pack for my head.
The most common is a Bloody Mary or Pedialyte.
What is the Rough Draft?
It's the cocktail I created for a Makers Mark contest, the first bar contest I entered. I was going to call it First Draft, but my colleague said "No, its a Rough Draft!" It's a little sweet and a little spice, and the liquor speaks for itself.
Tomorrow: Samantha's Rough Draft cocktail recipe.