Behind the Bar, Wining & Dining

Behind the Bar: Daniel Zielinski

Daniel Zielinski

Daniel O’Connell’s Restaurant & Bar

112 King Street

Old Town Alexandria






Daniel puts together O’Connell’s Dublin Grand Fashion – Jameson, Luxardo, Grand Marnier & Orange Bitters

How did you get started in the bartending business?

It was a pretty random affair. I have worked in the industry for the past 6 years and after I moved to O’Connell’s and worked as a server for a year I ended up picking up a couple of bar shifts and at some point ended up with a set bar schedule.

What is your biggest bartender pet peeve?

I don’t really have a whole lot of pet peeves, but I’d have to say that customers who try to grab my attention by whistling or sticking their credit cards in my face is a big one. I know you’re there – relax.

What is the cleverest line anyone has used on you to get a FREE drink?

An older gentleman came in with a small picture frame that contained a whole bunch of pictures of the Queen of England and plenty of memorabilia centered around the Royal Family. I found it really amusing that he brought that to an Irish bar. I had to treat to him to a pint of Harp. Needless to say we’ve never put that frame up!

What is the best or worst pickup line you’ve heard at the bar?

The worst one wasn’t much of a pickup line but….a young kid that was celebrating turning 21 asked a lady at the bar if she’d like to be his “booty call”. She completely shut him down saying she’s not interested in “wasting 5 seconds of her life”. The one cliché pickup line I enjoy has to be “nice dress, it would look great on the floor!”

Tell us about an interesting encounter you have had with a customer(s).

In the past I’ve been accused of being French a couple times so during one of those slower morning shifts, a gentleman storms into the bar, and after the initial greeting he starts speaking in French. My only response was that “if you’d like to order a drink you probably should do it in English”.  He got confused and after me carefully explaining that I’m Polish, he said “so you are a Polish man with a French accent pretending to be Irish.” So as a proper Frenchman, all I could do at this point was to surrender my weapons and make him an Irish coffee.

If you could sit down and have a drink with anyone in the world, past or present, who would that be?

Definitely Allan Holdsworth. He’s one of my favorite guitarists because he has such a unique style and approach to music. I mean, his improvisation skills are still 50 years ahead of anyone I’ve heard so far! I’d love to pick his brain a bit over a cold pint of Guinness!

You can find Daniel behind the bar Wednesday and Thursday days and Friday through Sunday nights.

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