As soon as you meet Tiffany Shelley, our bartender of the month, you figure out why she is such an integral part of Eddie V’s, the swank new steakhouse on Oak Lawn Avenue. “I like being in the mix,” says the demure drink maker. “The action is fast paced, but I love it.” Her fellow co-workers feel the same way. “She’s the fastest bartender we have,” says general manager Mario Vega. “Don’t let her tell you otherwise.” Another employee scurries by and throws in her ten cents. “Bartender of the month?” she says, patting Tiffany on the shoulder. “More like bartender of the year.” Humbled, Tiffany smiles sweetly. “I’m just lucky. I mean, how many people get to say they genuinely love their job?”
Originally from Columbia, South Carolina, Tiffany was asked to become a bartender while working as a waitress at TGIFridays. “They asked me to start on my 21st birthday.” After finishing college, she experimented with becoming a paralegal. “I worked twice as much and never saw my family, ended up bringing my work home with me, and the money wasn’t as good.” But she couldn’t resist the endorphin rush of a well-packed room, the alluring sound of a shaking martini tin. “The legal field was good, but it was a quality-of-life issue. So, I got back into bartending and I’ve been doing it ever since.” She is happily married and lives in Arlington with her husband and their three girls.
What’s your specialty cocktail?
The Dragon Berry Mojito. I muddle fresh strawberry and mint together, put in a little agave nectar, some fresh squeezed lemon and lime juice, and of course Bacardi Dragon Berry Rum. Hit it with a splash of soda. We strain our mojitos over ice at Eddie V’s so no big chunks of stuff are floating in it. They’re refreshing, and we’re known for these at the restaurant, especially with how hot it’s been outside.
Tell me something about you that most people don’t know.
I saved a customer’s life one time. This was during my first year at Fridays. One of the guests started having a seizure, and me and another employee gave him CPR until the paramedics could come. We received the highest honor am employee could receive. The President of the company at the time flew out personally and presented us with gold pins, which you get for doing outstanding things in the company. He comes into Eddie V’s and we still talk about it to this day.
What’s been your most exciting experience as a bartender?
I had worked at Lone Star Park for about 5 years, and had just gotten a job as a paralegal so it was my last day to bartend there. It was Kentucky Derby Day, and my birthday too. It wasn’t uncommon for us to get cash vouchers or betting tickets as tips, and sometimes customers would ask us if we wanted cash or a ticket for a tip, and we would ask for the ticket. My horse came in and I won, the first time in 5 years! It was a significant amount of money. I got to scream and act crazy like all the other winners. It was great—really made up for all the other tips I’d gotten and not won on.
What would you tell a beginning bartender?
Know your audience. It’s not always about just making drinks. You have to really get to know them. You do that by asking their name, by listening to what they are telling, you, understanding what they want without having to be told. They want you to know their needs, how they like their cocktails and food, and know when they don’t like to talk about certain things. Basically, take a genuine interest in them, especially the repeat customers. Let them know you appreciate the fact that they come in. Maybe buy them a drink every once in awhile.
What’s your hangover cure?
Go get a Whataburger. Seriously, greasy food is the cure for the worst hangover. Drink it with some blue Gatorade, or another beer.
Tell me about some of your favorite regulars.
We have some high profile people that come in to Eddie V’s. My absolute favorite is a former radio deejay that’s now doing Internet radio. She comes in here and she has this following that’s bigger than life. They line up around her, follow her around, which is understandable because she’s crazy and funny. I like her because she takes a genuine interest in my life, listens when I talk. Then we have a lot of people who, in life just seem untouchable, but they stroll in here and they’re just like normal people. I’m talking Jerry Jones, Mike Modano, and Dirk, just smiling and mingling with the crowd. I have moments like, “I can’t believe this person is standing in front of me and I’m asking him how he wants his martini.”
For more info: Tiffany Shelley, our bartender of the month, is a cocktail specialist at Eddie V’s, located at 4023 Oak Lawn Avenue, Dallas, Texas, 75219; 214-890-1500.
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