Casey Petty of Metro Brasserie (7114 E. Stetson Dr., 480-994-3663) says that 99 percent of the people who come to the French eatery in Scottsdale once end up coming back again. We're willing to bet he has more than a little influence on those numbers. The young, outgoing guy has been tending and managing Metro's bar for two years now, crafting outrageously delicious drink recipes and serving up good conversation to all comers.
You used to bartend in Washington, D.C. What's one major difference between working there and working in Scottsdale?
The people. They tend to look down their noses at you a little more here in Scottsdale. But you also get a lot of nice people here. People don't understand that things are on the menu a certain way because it's good that way, and then they want something different. For instance, we do a gin fizz, and sometimes people ask for it with vodka. It's like, we can't do it with vodka. It's not going to taste good. It's a gin fizz. I'm sorry; that's the way it is. People don't understand that there are a lot of really subtle gins out there. Not everything is going to kick you in the mouth. That's kind of what I want to do is introduce people to things that they might not think they'd be interested in and give them a really good product that'll blow their socks off.
How do you go about making a drink for a customer?
I'm pretty good about it. I can peg somebody pretty easily. I've been doing this a while, so it's not hard for me to sit down, listen to somebody tell me their likes and dislikes and make them exactly what they want.
Are there certain personality types who always tend to like a certain liquor? What is it in a person that says: I'm a vodka guy?
I can't tell you; I don't know. But it's there. Within the first minute, I just know what they're gonna drink.
What are some examples of the cocktails you'll make for people?
I've got a maple manhattan. I've given it to people who say they don't drink whiskey, and they take a sip and go, "Oh my God! I'll slug these back all day!" I also make a pumpkin martini and a cerrano sidecar, which is your traditional sidecar but with a simple syrup that's got orange zest and cerrano chiles in it. It's nice and refreshing with just a little spice in the back of the throat.
What's one thing you love about this job?
Not being behind a desk. I get to meet new people. It's cool just to hang out, have people at my bar just talking. It's cool, you know. I did a desk job for a while. It was mortifying. I hated it. I was doing IT recruiting, making $60,000 as a 20-year-old. My best friend's sister was doing the CEO's son, and I got hooked up with a sick job. I had a per diem; I had a company car. But still, I just couldn't do it, man. I can't sit behind a desk. Bartenders, man, we're the fruit of the earth. We're as real as it gets.
Do bartenders in this town hang out? Do you all know each other?
I went out to Coach House last night, and every five minutes it was like, "Hey, what's up Mikey? Hey, Jim! Hey!" It's a big community. That's one thing that's really cool here: the industry is really connected. I've only been here two years, but in those two years I know people everywhere. I went into FnB on Tuesday night, ordered two things, and the check was way below what I thought. When you get to know people, they take care of you, and we take care of them. Everybody; we all look out for each other. It's not like that in D.C. There it's: go do your job, do it, bang it out. Whatever.
Why do you think it's different here?
You know, it's probably the turnover. Every few years, somebody needs a new job because a restaurant just shut down. The average lifespan of a place is two years here. Everybody's just looking for a job all the time, and networking is everything here. It took me a month and a half to find a job here; in D.C., I never interviewed for a job I didn't get.
What do you usually drink when you're out?
I have to tell you, we have the best cocktail list there is, far and away. I've tried the specialty cocktails at other places, but I've had bad experiences at other places. Stuff not tasting right, flies in drinks. So I don't really do the specialty cocktails anymore. I drink whiskey or Coors Light. When you're in the industry, you just get so particular. Your standards just get so high, and it's really hard to find a place that you can go to and really appreciate.
What's your philosophy when it comes to bartending?
I like to keep it loose. A lot of the bartenders around here are kind of pricks. I'll go to places and see them working and just think, how are you still doing this? I had these two guys who came in last night who had reservations at Cowboy Ciao. They sat down and I just started talking to them. After 6 o'clock rolls around, I ask what time their reservation's at. "Oh, 5:30." "Well, I guess you guys are eating here then!" You have to have that; you have to be able to build a rapport.
I notice you've been tasting all the drinks you make before you give them to a customer. Do you always do that?
It's easy to tell if something's wrong in a cocktail. I can tell just my smelling it. I just taste it 'cause I enjoys it.
Check back tomorrow for a recipe from Petty.