April Lohrenz wears many hats. There's the promoter hat, which she wore while working years ago as a promoter for Budweiser, travelling all over the country to promote the beer company at hydroplane speed boat races. There's the student hat, which she currently dons as she studies dental hygiene at Rio Salado College. During the summer months she becomes a swim instructor for Infant Swimming Resource, giving private swim lessons to babies, toddlers and their parents.
And then there's the bartender hat. Lohrenz has been wearing this one for five years now, having logged time at Chandler's Sidelines Bar & Grill, Casino Arizona and the Wild Horse Pass Casino. She now brings her talents to Spitfire Grill & Tavern (1706 E. Warner Rd., 480-897-1000), and though she's only been there a month, the buxom blonde's already made an impression. Put on your drinker hat and ask for her Lemon Drop -- you'll be glad you did.
How would you describe your personality?
Very outgoing, never serious, funny. It's important behind the bar because it keeps your clients coming back. They're here to have someone listen to them, or to have fun or to share their thoughts about people in their lives in a place where they don't know anyone. That's how you keep people coming back and that's how you build your clientele.
What kinds of stories will people come to you with?
Stuff at home or their jobs. The most common thing people complain about is that they don't want to be home.
How is bartending at a casino different from a place like Spitfire?
There are a lot of drunks there, not so many here; higher volume there, slower pace here. You get more consistency with customers here as well. There are so many people in and out of the casino, it's hard to build that relationship because you see so many faces. I like it better here.
What's the hardest part about working in a casino?
Not over-serving. People at the casino are there to gamble and spend money, and they want to be served. You have to know when to cut them off. You have to do that anywhere, but it's harder there because they're spending money.
Is it tough to cut people off?
I don't have a problem with it, which is probably why I had the position I had there. But it was hard for the other bartenders. I was called quite often to cut people off for them. When you have someone who's been drinking or just lost a lot of money, it's hard to tell them know. They'll flip out on you and cause a big scene. You just have to know how to talk to them. You could say things two different ways: one that offends them or one that allows them to understand where they're coming from. It's all in the way you word things.
What's the best thing about being a bartender?
Customer service. I love dealing and talking with people, being able to experiment and mix up fun drinks and give people something that they haven't tried.
What would make you send a drink back?
If it just doesn't taste...normal. If it's too sour, too sweet or just doesn't have the flavors I'm looking for.
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Do you pour drinks according to your own tastes or those of the customer?
It depends on the customer and whether I can get away with it. You can tell by talking to them if they want it their way or if their willing to try it my way. For example, I'll ask if they mind if I throw a little orange juice into this margarita. If they are, then I'll make it and they'll usually like it, but if they say no I stick to their tastes.
How do you tell if a drink is well-made?
If I can taste the alcohol! I want to be able to taste it. For instance, a Long Island Iced Tea is pretty much all alcohol, but if a bartender puts too much juice in it, it tastes horrible; that's not what a Long Island is supposed to be. Also, shaking a drink matters. The key to a good martini is how well you shake it. A lot of shaking makes it frothy and more refreshing. People sometimes say it's annoying, but that's they key.
What's the worst thing about bartending?
The dirtiness. You're touching all the glasses, you're squeezing limes all over the place and getting your fingers sticky. I'm constantly cleaning. If you're back there busting your butt, the bar's going to get a little messy. I spend a lot of time cleaning up after myself.
What do you drink when you're out?
Lemon drops, margaritas, bay breezes. Mostly, though, it's vodka soda. It's fewer calories!