Garrard woman enjoys tending bar - even if she has to swat a few bar flies

September 13, 2004|HERB BROCK

I've always admired scientists. I think my admiration dates back to when I was 7 years old and I blew up my chemistry set. I appreciated my friends who conducted experiment after experiment without their parents having to call the fire department.

But while I, as a science-challenged "creative type," honor all scientists, from nuclear physicists to molecular biologists, I especially admire chemists. No, not just any chemists. The subgroup of chemists I'm talking about are mixologists.

The recipe for making a mixologist calls for one part chemist, one part choreographer, one part psychologist, one part counselor, one part dispatcher and one part police officer. Place all these ingredients into a big glass, stir well and out pours a person like Hazel Roney.

Roney happens to be new to a profession that is new to Danville: she's is a restaurant bartender. She works at Reno's, one of those large Danville restaurants that have added bars to their interiors and booze to their menus since the town went "moist" more than a year ago.


She may be a relative rookie, but she already has gained a good reputation. I had heard some folks in town mention Roney as a popular bartender, so I decided I needed to meet this woman. I recently stopped by the restaurant, pulled up a bar stool and had a chat with her. For the record, the conversation was conducted over glasses of 100-proof water.

"I've always been fascinated with bartending and wanted to give it a try," said the 38-year-old Garrard County wife and mother of six. "I like to meet different people, I love to talk to people and listen to their stories, and I love the fast pace of the job. I felt I'd be a natural at it."

She had planned on breaking into the bartending profession in Lexington, but she discovered she didn't have to go that far - or leave her place of employment.

"It was a couple of years ago and I was planning to go to Lexington to apply for a bartending job. But about the same time I was planning to go to Lexington to pursue a bartending career there, Danville went 'moist,' and that made things more convenient for me," she said.

Already an employee at Reno's

Very convenient. Roney already was an employee at Reno's, having put in more than four years with the eatery at the time, and Reno's was one of the first restaurants in Danville to get a license to sell alcoholic beverages. She told her boss she wanted to become a bartender, and her new career was born in March 2003.

Roney took a "training and intervention" course provided by the state Alcohol Beverage Control Board, and she passed a test.

Regarding the training part of her education, she learned various aspects of bartending, including the most important - how to mix drinks.

"There are scores and scores of recipes for mixed drinks, and I'm still learning them," said Roney, adding that popular ones at Reno's include Long Island iced tea, daiquiris and Margaritas. "Of course, draft beers are also popular. The only thing I had learn about draft beers was how to tilt the glasses the right way so they aren't too foamy."

She gets help in her mixology education from two sources - a little red recipe book and her customers.

"I keep this book close by to double-check recipes or look up recipes I've never done before," Roney said. "And my customers are my taste testers. They'll tell me if the drink needs more of this or less of that, and they'll tell me how to a mix a drink I've never done before. I don't mind asking."

She has to rely a lot on the opinions of her customers because, unlike a lot of bartenders, she never samples her work.

"I don't drink. I have no idea what my drinks taste like," Roney said.

But she does drive and knows what it's like to dodge drunken motorists. How to deal with customers who have had one too many was covered in the "intervention" part of her ABC course.

"You have to be a good judge of people and their limits," Roney said. "One customer may be able to have five or six drinks and behave OK, while others get loud and obnoxious after one."

But whether they are bingers or sippers, she keeps a close eye on how many drinks each customer consumes.

"I will remind them if they've had more than just a couple of drinks, and I will cut them off," said Roney. "I'll suggest a Coke or a cup of coffee. If they're with a group, I'll make sure at least one of them has not been drinking. If they're alone, I'll suggest going to a motel, or I'll arrange a ride for them."

An on-call designated driver at home

She has an on-call designated driver at home - her spouse, Perry, a "house husband" who is off work because of health problems.

"Perry told me when I started tending bar that anytime I needed to have a customer hauled home or to a motel, that he'd come over here from our home in Garrard County and do the taxiing," Roney said.

Central Kentucky News Articles