Behind the Bar: Kat Warren
3804 Mount Vernon Avenue
Kat is behind the bar Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights.
Kat conjurs up a Creole 75 #1. A variation on the French 75. It has Leopold’s small batch gin that is infused in house with pear and rosemary, fresh lemon juice, house-made ginger syrup, topped with champagne, and garnished with a lemon twist.
How did you get started in the bartending business?
My first bartending gig started at a local restaurant in my hometown of Maryville, Tennesee. I was barely 21 at the time and I was really excited to try something new. However, my love for the trade really transpired while working at a jazz and martini bar. This was in the days before mixology and craft cocktails had become what they are today. A regular of mine came in one day with a book for me called Aerobleu written about a nightclub in Paris in the late forties. It documents anecdotes of the great jazz musicians, like Miles Davis for example, who performed at the club and the libations and martinis that were created for them by the bartender, Jean-Pierre. I found that the stories would be only half as interesting without the cocktails that were created expressly for the artists that were drinking them. I was inspired to experiment with all types of alcohol to create fun martinis for different seasons as well as special holidays. I became a bit of a celebrity with the local ladies who would come over for happy hour after getting off work excited to try any and all new creations. It was all fun and games until the first Sex and the City movie came out while I was working there. I couldn’t tell you the exact number of cosmos I made that day, but I am pretty sure I made at least 20 cosmos in just one round of orders. Although I am a bourbon girl myself, I am still finding myself making cosmos like they are going out of style. I can guarantee you, they are not!
What is your biggest bartender pet peeve?
I am very lucky to work in such a wonderful restaurant with the most amazing staff and lovely guests that frequent our restaurant. After working here for over 6 years, I could go on for days about all the good things that I encounter on a daily basis. However, as my friend and co-worker told me, people want to hear the “crap”. So here goes: People who say they are ready to order, perhaps even wave you down, to have you come over and have NO idea what they want. This always seems to happen when you are the busiest. And there is poor cell phone etiquette. We live in a world where it seems that cell phones are our life source. Whether you are my bartender, my guest, or my co-worker, there’s a time and a place.
What is the cleverest line anyone has given you in order to garner a free drink?
As any good bartender will tell you, there really isn’t a magical line patrons can use to get this mystical free drink. But I do know a time when I witnessed a guy who should have at least tried with the bartender. He came into the bar and ordered his drink, paid, and left no tip, saying, “Sorry, I have to take a cab, so I don’t have any money to tip you.” Rightfully, the bartender had no qualm with letting the guy know that if you don’t have money to tip, you don’t have money to drink. Perhaps if he had a clever line to get a free drink somehow, he could have tipped the bartender and all would have been well with the world.
What is the best/worst pick up line you have overheard at the bar?
Being a female in a bar environment, no matter which side of the bar you are on, you get your fair share of the good, the bad, and the plain ugly pickup lines. I don’t know if there really is a “best” pickup line, but I do always love it when I tell a guy I’m from Tennessee and they say, “Tennessee, huh, you’re the only 10 I see!” It goes straight to a southern girl’s heart.
On the other hand, I have a couple stories about just awful pickup lines. Both stories happened while out at local bars rather than in my own restaurant. I had just gotten off work and gone to enjoy a nice cocktail of my own when I walked into the bar and straight into a crazy man’s path. He came over with a mission and looked me dead in the eyes (as much as someone three sheets to the wind can) and said, “You’re pretty.” And I said, “Thanks,” in a mildly polite, but not so appreciative tone. Trying to move around him he jumps in front of me and goes, “You’re pretty, can I kiss you?” Of course my response to this was, “No.” Once again I try to maneuver my escape, at which point he blocks me again and says, “Can I French kiss you?” I don’t know what segway he saw leading him from my response to his, but he was definitely determined. I’ll give him credit for that at least.
Tell us about an interesting encounter you have had with your customer(s).
This particular story I would describe as being more embarrassing, but interesting, none the less. Working at RT’s Restaurant, we get our fair share of famous musicians who venture across the street from the Birchmere Music Hall. I remember it was a booming Friday night and everyone was doing their best to help out anyway they could. A couple of ladies walked in the door with more people following behind, but I couldn’t see them just yet. The manager wasn’t at the front to greet them so I said something like, “Hi there. How ya’ doing? Do you guys have a reservation?” I could see one man step inside and hear another man’s voice behind him say, “Yes”. In a hurried state, I asked, “What’s the name?” I could see the guy who was speaking enter the doorway and say, “Uh, Bacon,” in an almost questioning manner. It was then I realized this was Kevin Bacon with his brother, Michael, and crew who were performing that night. I could feel my face turning red as I told them I would get their table ready for them. Best part of it all, they didn’t actually have a reservation. They still got a table needless to say.
If you could sit down and have a drink with anyone – past or present – who would that be?
One of my greatest friends and colleagues passed away in December last year. His name was Eric Evasic, but I knew him as Drock. He was one of the coolest dudes you would ever meet and he was talented in ways the world will never truly know. At only 29 years of age, he rocked out every day of his life and accomplished so much I forget sometimes how young he was. I would love to spend even an hour to sit down and share a drink with my beloved friend just one more time. I love you, Drock, and you are truly missed!
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