Bartender of the week

John Steiner wants to pick Benjamin Franklin’s brain on brews

John Steiner mans the bar at Penuche’s, but don’t ask him to get up on it and dance – he’s not into it.
article tools


Name: Jon Steiner
Bartender, Penuche’s
How long have you been a bartender?
I’ve been here for about 14 years at the end of this month. I worked in special ed before that.
How did you get into the profession?
I’ve always been more of a night person than a day person. A 9-to-5 in a cube never really interested me at all. Bartending is kind of like being at the party but not participating in the party. It’s a responsible way to participate in a party.
What is the weirdest drink order you’ve ever been asked to make?
It wasn’t necessarily a weird drink, but a woman came in and asked me for something healthy. I said, “I have some orange juice I can give you.” I think she wound up ordering a cider or something gluten-free.
What’s your favorite drink to make?
I’m a beer guy; I’m not really a liquor guy. I’d rather talk to someone for a half-hour about beer than have a lady come up and ask me “just make me something you think I’d like.” I’d rather talk to the burly guy in the corner about a microbrew than sling cocktails.
Bartenders are also thought of as confidants. What is the weirdest story a customer has shared with you?
I had a girl come down the other night after last call and say “Can I get a beer?” I told her it was after last call, and she said, “Listen, I’m about to get off probation – is there any way I can pay you for a drink tomorrow and just get it right now?”
I wasn’t sure what the probation part had to do with anything. I’m thinking, you just told me you’re a convicted criminal and I should trust you. In general, though, you usually end up knowing way more than you want to know.
What’s the protocol for shutting someone off at the end of the night?
I usually try to go with the good cop technique, just tell them they’ve had too much, maybe try to get them a water or a soda or something to eat. Definitely make sure they have a ride home and that they aren’t driving.
It’s always a lot easier with someone who has been in the bar for most of the night instead of someone who is coming in late and you don’t know how long they’ve been out or how much they’ve had.
If you could serve a drink to anyone in history, who would it be and what would it be?
Probably Ben Franklin. Since I’m a beer guy, I’d see what they were doing back then with beers and see what he thought about beers today. Ben Franklin was definitely a beer guy.
If you could only have one last drink, what would it be?
My favorite right now is Magic Hat Feast of Fools; it’s a chocolate raspberry stout. But if I’m only going to have one more beer, it would have to be a Sierra Nevada. Just give me a craft beer and I’ll be happy.
Which famous bartender do you model your tending style after: Tom Cruise from Cocktail, the ladies of Coyote Ugly, or Ted Danson from Cheers?
Ted Danson. Cocktail embarasses me, and you’ll never see me dancing on the bar.
What is your favorite bar snack?
Chicken wings. We do mostly standard pub fare here.
What is your stance on umbrellas in drinks? What about tiny swords?
No and no. Drinks don’t need flair. Beer shouldn’t have fruit and drinks shouldn’t have swords.or umbrellas.
If you weren’t a bartender, what would you be doing?
Probably something where I could work with kids. I really enjoyed working with kids, especially handicapped kids. It was very rewarding and very challenging.
Hidden talent?
I’m amazing at games of accuracy: darts, frisbee golf, horseshoes.
Guilty pleasure?
I’ve been known to watch Jersey Shore from time to time. I grew up a little in New Jersey, so it’s a little like watching what my life could have been like and a little like watching people in a zoo.

More from this issue »

These bowls are full of hope 0

Parker Academy students raised $1,500 for the Friendly Kitchen at last week's Empty Bowls fundraiser
November 13, 2012

Miriam Hill has hobnobbed with presidents, popes and penguins 0

Now she can add the Insider to that list
November 13, 2012


Login or register to post a comment.