James Owens, Thunder Canyon Brewery
What’s your favorite drink to make?
An old-fashioned. It’s like the first cocktail I learned how to make. It’s just kind of a standard, and when someone pulls it off and does it really well, it actually makes all the difference in the world. You can have a bad one all the time.
What’s your least favorite drink to make?
James Owens, a bartender for four years, stands before the wall of taps at Thunder Canyon Brewery.
Not a big fan of crazy off-the-wall shots, like “alien secretion” or something like that. Half the time I’ve got to look them up. Regions have so many different names for so many different shots. Kind of the off-the-wall, weirdo party shots are my least favorite to make.
Most memorable customer?
I had an older gentleman that used to come in everyday and we would kind of talk. His wife was actually … suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and he was here and every day it was like some “Notebook” stuff. He’d go and talk to his wife and he’d have to reintroduce himself everyday, so over the course of two years I built a friendship up with this guy. We just kind of talked a lot. I was going through a hard financial time and he ended up giving me a $5 bill that I still carry around. It was from the ’20s or ’30s. He basically would always talk to me about finance. He gave this to me, it’s 1934, and he told me, ‘Put it in your wallet and if you ever spend it, then you have to change something about your life.’ Ever since that happened to me, like this last year I bought a house, it just totally changed my life. It was just this weird little thing.
Weird, strangest thing you’ve seen go down at the bar?
One time I had a group of people come in and we’re pretty calm, like our atmosphere is pretty calm usually most of the time. A girl looked at me, she was with a bunch of her friends on a bachelorette party or something. She was like, “I want to jump right over this bar and dance with you right now.” I didn’t think anything of it and I turned back around and there’s this girl, she’s a little bit bigger than I am, she had jumped over the bar and basically just grabbed me and started swinging me around. I was like, “You can’t be back here, y’know, it’s not OK.”
How long have you been bartending?
This will be my fourth year. Thunder Canyon the whole time. … Great place to work, and I serve the owner everyday. He comes in, sits down and has a meal. He’s the brew master and everything, too.
What’s a drinking trend that you’d like to see go away?
Fireball. … I’m a whiskey man, and I’m so upset that somebody has the gall to put cinnamon in my whiskey.