Behind the Bar: Jacob Sunny
Bastille Brasserie & Bar
606 North Fayette Street
Old Town Alexandria
How did you get started in the bartending business?
Two years ago, after I got out of my engineering job, I was looking for something new and refreshing to do for couple of months. I came across Bastille’s ad, responded and got hired as a waiter and have since moved up as a bartender. I came into the realization that bartending isn’t a just a job for me anymore, it’s a calling. I love what I do and the satisfaction I get from my guest’s smiles is impeccable. Bastille fuels my imagination and talents to endeavor uncharted territories in craft cocktails. Here it’s more like a family than a team. I can always count on my colleagues for their help and advice.
What is your biggest bartender pet peeve?
That would be the people who come to the bar thinking they know everything about everything. I had this lady once who was so convinced that you cannot make a Cosmopolitan without the Triple Sec – we don’t carry those bottom shelf liqueurs and I hate making a cocktail with cheap quality products. So…I made her a Cosmo with Cointreau instead and told her if she didn’t like it I wouldn’t charge her. She drank it, and then she had 2 more.
What is the cleverest line anyone has ever used to get you to give them a free drink?
A while ago, I was trying to create some new cocktails for spring. I had this guest in the bar and she told me she has huge experience in tasting cocktails and that she was a professional cocktail sommelier. That was a great line – too hard to resist.
What is the best/worst pickup line you have overheard at the bar?
I don’t really remember any great pickup lines, but I had a fascinating encounter with a couple once. It was late and I was about to close the bar. This couple walked in, sat in the bar and the guy started buying drinks for the girl – obviously hoping he would end up taking her home. The lady was charming and finished the drinks one by one. After a while, she said she wanted to go home ‘alone’ and just walked out without saying a word to him. He was pissed and kept yelling that she “stole his drinks”, even though he had already closed out his tab. It was an interesting night.
Tell us about an interesting encounter you have had with a customer(s).
I once had this guest that told me she had a reservation for her and her husband a week prior and she couldn’t make it. She wanted to know if her husband came in for the reservation. If so, is it possible to get a copy of the CCTV footage? I basically told her, what happens in Bastille stays in Bastille. She wasn’t exactly fond of the answer though….don’t know why.
If you could sit down and have a drink with anyone in the world, past or present, who would that be?
I would have to go with Joe Pesci and Stephen Hawking. Joe Pesci, because it’s JOE PESCI! And Stephen Hawking, because he was my childhood hero. I have read all of his books and have a great admiration for him. And frankly, I don’t want to give up a chance to see him DRUNK.
Jacob is behind the bar all Sunday nights and many nights during the week. He says, “Next time you come to Bastille, ask for our Bespoke Menu coming in September.”
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