Behind the bar with Jared Boller

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You can find Jared Boller behind a number of bars -- at TAG, Root Down and Corridor 44. He says he loves working with the different styles and clientele at each location and that it makes him a better bartender.

It certainly makes him a winning bartender: Last month, Boller took top honors in the Hendrick's Gin Bartending Competition at Lola, earning a free trip to Vegas to compete in the finals. Now serving: Jared Boller.

Bartending competitions. Love them? Hate them? Love them, because they allow us to showcase our talents and how we are progressing as a state. Look up the 42 Below Cocktail World Cup in New Zealand and see the crazy things I had to do there. One week of partying and competing against the world: bungee-jumping, then free-pouring; jet-boat-riding through a canyon, then creating a drink on the fly; creating a drink we drew out of a hat in front of some of the most famous bartenders in the world; being on stage on New Zealand TV with seven minutes to make a world-class cocktail. We took second representing U.S.A. central. That was a crazy competition; all I wanted was sleep when it was over.

How did you get into bartending? When I was living in Costa Rica, there was a bar with open walls next to the beach, and I would go there every day to get lunch and grab a beer. They eventually let me step behind the bar and make drinks for people. That's when I realized I could travel anywhere in the world and tend bar.

Do you have any rules when you're tending bar? Two: Make sure everyone learns something before they leave, and that they leave with a smile on their face. Cheesy, I know.

What's your least favorite drink to make? A Bloody Mary. Everyone likes their Bloody Marys so different, and they are not something you should be having at night! Make your own at home or have one for breakfast somewhere.

What's your favorite drink to make? Making a Sazerac is really fun if I have time at the bar to do it properly; I also like making up new cocktails for people on the spot, depending on their individual palates.

How do you feel about cutting people off? I don't like to do it, because I feel we should all be responsible for our consumption rate. The top three reasons why you may get cut off: 1) Falling asleep at the bar or passing out standing straight up; 2) Getting in fights at the bar over some girl/boy wearing Ed Hardy or a skirt not covering their bottom; 3) The only English words coming out of your mouth are curse words.

What's your worst cutting-someone-off story? I don't want to elaborate on this, but it was a man on meth who came up to the bar all bug-eyed like he wanted to eat me and asked me for some of the "clear stuff." I said, "Vodka, gin, rum, water?" I gave him water, left the bar, called the cops and they took him away. Scary. I'd never witnessed a man on meth but other people sitting there told me what was wrong with him. I never want to experience that again.

What do customers do that pisses you off most? Not being open-minded to trying new things.

What's the best line you've ever heard to get a free drink? Showing me naked pictures of themselves via iPhone to get a free vodka soda. Sorry, I mean, flavored vodka soda.

What's the most memorable pickup line you've heard? Something that's always funny to me is when there's a phone number left on the receipt. That receipt gets attached to all the other receipts and goes to the manager.

What's the most fun you've ever had while working? I love working special events and parties. It's fun to go out in the public and entertain. The Elway's concert series in Cherry Creek all summer was a blast.

What's the best tip you've ever received, either monetary or insight? It's not the best, but I love the secretive $20, $50, $100 handshakes. It's so sneaky and always catches me off-guard. Like...nice to meet you, man, handshake, oh...there's something in my hand now. Sweet, money!

What's the weirdest thing you've ever seen while working behind the bar? Every night is weird. You never know who or what is coming in.

What's the worst job you've ever had? McDonald's for four months when I was fifteen. I had to work the microwave station to reheat all the hamburgers that had been cooked thirty minutes prior. (Yum, McDonald's.....)

What's your favorite alcohol? Rye whiskey and a delicious dark beer. The darker, the more flavor.

What's your drink of choice? A Rye Manhattan with Carpano Antica Vermouth and orange bitters. Maybe on the rocks or as a martini (stirred), depending on my mood.

Other than your co-workers, who's the best bartender in Denver? What defines the best? Talk to your bartenders...they will tell you the best place to get a drink. We know where to find them.

Other than where you work, what's the best bar in Denver? I really dig the Thin Man; there's so much character. The Bull & Bush, too, for its whiskey selection and homemade beers.

Other than where you work, where do you drink most regularly? Probably Corridor 44, because it's right next to TAG and two blocks from my home.

What do you do in your spare time? Spare time normally comes at the end of the night, when I have drinks. I am a brand ambassador for Cabana Cachaca; I work at TAG and Root Down and doing events and parties for various alcohol brands. I would love to find some time to ski this winter.

What would you tell someone who wanted to get into bartending? You need to be confident or the public will tear you apart. Own your stage, don't judge people, and make sure the guest has a great time.

What do you think of bartending school? Absolutely not. Start at a bar where you just pour beer. When you're bored with that, move to a beer and whiskey bar. If you want to take it further, try a restaurant or a bar where they serve wine and cocktails. Find your niche and decide how much you want to learn. (It's all relative to what kind of place you want to work and what kind of booze you feel comfortable serving.)

Tell us one thing about tending bar that we might not know. Even though we are smiling and answering questions at the bar, there are normally at least thirty things going through our minds at the same time.


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