Behind the Bar, Wining & Dining

Behind the Bar: Shavani “Vani” Malhotra

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Behind the Bar

Shavani “Vani”Malhotra

Warehouse Bar and Grill

King Street

214 King Street

Old Town Alexandria



Vani serves up the Warehouse Perfect Lemon Drop – the secret is in the mix!*

How did you get started in the bartending business?

Well….my parents were hoping I’d be a lawyer or a doctor and I was really good at drinking so I decided to make some money while enjoying it, and here I am! Seriously though, I was working at Starbucks and this guy came in and poached me and said I wasn’t being appreciated enough, all while my boss, her boss and his boss was sitting next to him, and here I am today.

What is your biggest bartender pet peeve?

My biggest pet peeve as a bartender is losing my wine key and pens. I can carry spares, but sometimes in a rush you know you’re on this roll and have this flow. I place things and forget where, that’s frustrating especially if my rush is still in progress and it’s me running around like a chicken with my head cut off.

What is the most clever line anyone has used in an attempt to get a free drink from you?

This guy wanted to take a shot as if he was celebrating something, but he didn’t have anyone to take the shot with, so he asked me if I would take one with him. I told him that since I’m at work I can’t, but I’ll take a shot of water with you. He agreed…we got ready, set, shot! He puts his glass down and is like “thanks BFF so you got this right?”

What is the best/worst pick up line you have heard?

The worst pick up line I’ve ever heard was actually a series of stringed out lines this one guy was using on one of my regulars. I felt bad for the guy because I could tell that he was trying too hard. But he was cute and shy and nice – you know what they say about nice guys. I remember he closed with, “ha, ha, you probably think I’m talking too much so I’ll just stop! But hey let me buy you another one”. All I could think was my goodness….Please. Stop!

Tell us an interesting story about your adventures behind the bar.

A most recent encounter I’ve had was with a customer was actually on St. Patrick’s day. He was my last customer and it turns out he was this baby boomer generation, democrat from “Texas”. When he told me that, I was first like, you’re really, almost like anyone from “North Dakota”. But during the hour he was at my bar Donald Trump made him cry with ignorance…Actual Tears! Hands down most interesting encounter ever.

If you could sit down with anyone in the world (past or present) and share a cocktail, who would that be?

If I could have a drink with anyone past or present, I’d choose both. Past-wise I’d have a drink with my dearly departed daddy, Harish Malhotra. He was the former GM of the Warehouse Bar and Grill, and I wouldn’t be 1% of who I am today if it wasn’t for him and my mom. He’s the reason I’m a good bartender, he taught me about pallets and preferences and personal concoctions. Or…Marilyn Monroe, now those are some secrets I’d like in my vault shared over some cocktails! In the present, I hope to see you at my bar in Old town and I will let you know the *secret ingredient!

Vani is behind the bar Wednesday – Sunday nights from 5 pm to close.

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