Dave Hinton was recently named the best bartender in Washington, D.C., by On Tap Magazine. He practices his mixing and pouring skills at The Greene Turtle Sports Bar and Grille at the Verizon Center, the arena where the Capitals and the Wizards play. SmartBrief recently asked Hinton a few questions about bartending in the city.
What are subtle things you do to help your guests have a better experience?
You can make a good impression with simple things like remembering names and drinks. I try hard not to ask twice what a customer is drinking or the name on their tab.
Most importantly, I want to be available to them at all times — or at least appear to be. As busy as the bar may be or as swamped as I am, I try to make eye contact with whoever is waiting, to let them know that I will take care of them. A simple nod or a wink can buy me some time and keep the guest happy.
What do you like about bartending in D.C.? Would you ever want to go anywhere else?
The variety of people that I get to meet. Working in the Chinatown area, I get to see the local business people at lunch, the young professionals at happy hour and the enthusiastic sports fans on game day. Our location in the Verizon Center is great because we have regulars and a ton of foot traffic from tourists and locals, which lets me interact with new people and help build our clientele.
I am the type of person who loves new experiences and reinventing myself. I’ve been lucky enough to work in a couple of bars that have been very different in their location and clientele, which has allowed me to draw on different parts of my personality. By now, I’ve got a bag of tricks for serving all the different types of people who come in. It would be fun to work somewhere else, but I’m not picky as to what location. Every area and bar has its own niche.
What are your favorites nights to work? During football season? Summer?
Event nights are always the best for me. Football season is great because everyone comes in with their jerseys on, ready to have a good time. I also love the atmosphere at the Turtle when there’s a Caps game, or when a bands roll through for shows. They all bring in their own unique crowd, which makes for some interesting shifts.
Seasonally, spring is my favorite. When spring comes around it seems to get people excited to get out of their offices and houses, or whatever is keeping them in.
Image: EricHood, via iStockphoto.com