Behind the Bar: Gillian Tervet at The Parlor

Gillian Tervet is one of those girls who's cool because she's not trying to be.

A bartender-on-the-rise who's barely old enough to drink her own cocktails (she just turned 21), Tervet has her own style behind the bar. This is a girl from Georgia whose parents don't drink at all, who spends most of her time experimenting, mixing, and learning about the intricacies of a martini versus a mojito at The Parlor, the new pizzeria on 20th Street and Camelback.

Tervet's not looking for the attention she almost inevitably gets when she's mixing it up with a growing crowd of regulars frequenting The Parlor since its opening on Memorial Day -- and she's not looking to put on a show. In fact, this is one bartender (the first we've come across, actually) who doesn't see herself as an actor or a comedian of any kind while she's pouring drinks and chatting up customers.

When she talks about bartending, she uses words like "sharing" and "connecting" more than "performing" or "entertaining."

"People just really bond with their bartender," she says. It's about "sharing stories" and "feeling connected" for Tervet. "I bond with couples a lot," she says (even though she admits her regulars are "typically male.")

When she moved to the Valley after growing up in a small town called Alpharetta, Georgia, Tervet enrolled in the New School for the Arts in Tempe to study acting ("because who doesn't want to be a star," she says.) But the stage wasn't for her -- then or now.

When she got up on stage to audition for the New School, she completely choked up. "I got really nervous," she says. She studied photography instead.

Now, she's using that same artistic eye to design throwback drinks-with-a-twist using some of the freshest ingredients around -- fresh herbs from The Parlor's very own garden, and homemade simple syrup. (Check out Tervet's own Basil Gimlet recipe on Chow Bella tomorrow. She serves it with a torn basil leaf floating elegantly on top.)

After a few years hostessing, serving and cocktailing at Olive & Ivy in Scottsdale, Tervet joined chef Jared Porter (also formerly of Olive & Ivy) when he was recruited to open a new restaurant with owner Aric Mei earlier this summer.

She says they sat around on training day, coming up with original cocktails for a menu that turned out to be sophisticated and fun. They have a Garden Mojito (as in their garden -- you'll see it on your way in), a Ginger Sidecar and a Watermelon Agua, to start with.

She may be a rookie, but Tervet has already picked up on one of the keys to a successful run behind the bar (even without putting on a show): That what a person drinks -- and where they drink it -- says a lot about them.

"I will remember what you drink before I remember your name," she says.

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Lauren Gilger
Contact: Lauren Gilger