10 Questions: Travis Rachal of Trader Vic's
How many service industry careers begin in college? Hard to say, really--but one assumes the number is significant. After all, the income is good and you can work through the summer.
Rachal intends to graduate from SMU next year with a degree in finance. In the meantime, the Chicago native has been paying bills through bartending. He began in more formal environments, but now calls Trader Vic's home.
Yep, the tiki place on Mockingbird. That means cocktails with groan-inducing names blossoming silk shirts and other such--stuff frowned upon in the world of high finance. But for some reason, he likes that sort of thing...
1. Don't you get tired of drinks with silly names?
I actually kinda like it. It's better than the generic vodka and tonics. I like the Suffering Bastard and the Samoan Fog Cutter. It's different.
2. Aren't they rather time consuming?
At first they are. But after you get some experience with the menu, you can make them faster than you'd think possible.
3. So you love complicated cocktails?
No, not too much.
4. How 'bout every bartender's favorite: blender drinks?
You know, we actually have some very complicated coffee drinks--more time consuming than blender drinks. One actually requires us to leave the bar and heat up milk in the kitchen.
5. Do people realize how strong some of these silly drinks really are?
I don't think they have any idea until they stand up and try to walk around. Some of these drinks contain so many different fruit juices, they disguise the alcohol.
6. But if they're drunk enough, they don't mind your Hawaiian shirts...
I'm a huge fan of Hawaiian shirts. These shirts give you some breathing room. They aren't like those formal black shirts and vests. It's comfortable--and I think girls like them, too.
7. Because it's Trader Vic's, do people behave differently?
Absolutely. People come in and say they feel like they're on vacation. Some of them even wear Hawaiian shirts for the occasion.
8. How much rum do you really need?
You know, we like to cover the most popular brands--you can see that by the shelves. But we truly don't use them that much. People come in for the cocktails and we use the Trader Vic's brand rum for those.
9. What's the worst part of bartending?
From my perspective, you're the first one to get here and the last one to leave. It gets lonely--a lot of prepping and cleaning up.
10. And the worst mistakes customers make?
They have to understand that if you are busy, they have to be patient. And the ones who are patient are rewarded. If you're nice to your bartender, they will be nice back.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.