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Trevor Frye Sizzles as Jack Rose's Beverage Director

Posted by on in January 2015 Editions
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The hardest skill to teach a new bartender is how to bite your tongue.  I can teach you how to stir, I can teach you how to shake, and I can teach you drink recipes.  But there are customers who are, by their nature, just plain difficult.  You could make them the perfect drink based off of what they said, and it's just not going to be good enough."

So laments Trevor Frye, Beverage Director for the Jack Rose Dining Saloon in Washington, D.C.  But that's about the only lament Frye has these days.  According to him, he is in his dream job.  "I'm one of the lucky people," he stated, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal.  "I actually feel happy when I'm going to work."

He started in the industry as a busboy at age 15.  Since then, he has worked just about every job in the business, from barback to server to bartender.  He even briefly owned a private event bartending and cocktail consulting company. "I eventually threw in the towel about four years ago and went full-time with bartending," he recalled.  "I had reached a point in my life where I was ready to take a leap of faith and go with my real passion, and it's been awesome."

At Jack Rose, he runs the entire beverage program serving the establishment's five different bars.  "We have about 2,000 whiskeys in house, which is really where a lot of my time is spent, making sure they're all up to date.  I really have one of the best jobs.  I get paid to drink the best whiskey in the world."

He continued, "We opened Dram & Grain [a cocktail bar located in Jack Rose's basement] in February of this year.  We're open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  Thursdays, it's first-come, first-served.  Fridays and Saturdays, we do three reserved seatings each night at 6:30, 9 p.m., and 11:30 p.m.  It's a small space.  We're talking 20 to 25 people at most.  There are two bartenders.  It's very intimate, with lots of intricate cocktails served and some great conversations with our guests.  We have some rare spirits down there, as well -- bourbons from pre-Prohibition and things like that.  Owner Bill Thomas basically told me, 'Here's your little room.  You do it the way you want to do it.'  It's been a true blessing."

And the proprietors of Jack Rose have been grateful to him for bringing a high level of prestige to their business.  Not only has Frye represented D.C. on the national level at such competitions as the GQ and Bombay Sapphire Bartender series and Liquor.com's Master Manhattan, he is also one of the featured mixologists on the Spike TV show "Bar Rescue" -- a gig that happened when one of its producers came into Jack Rose after a concert and the two ended up in a two-hour conversation about cocktails and whiskey. 

Frye stated, "I guess my appeal is I'm kind of old school.  I love making drinks, and I love coming up with drinks.  But, at the end of the day, it's all about hospitality.  I think that gets lost when you have bartenders that are starting to be at the level of executive chefs.  It's weird to me when you see bartenders getting endorsement deals now!  These are guys that require managers and they're flying on private planes.  That's all awesome.  But for me, at the end of the day, it's still all about the guests and their experience."

And as a people-first man, Frye has also come to love interacting with various local beverage industry professionals.  One of his favorites is Shannon Crisp of FEW Spirits.  Frye concluded, "At Jack Rose, we love to support brands and distillers that do business the right way.  It's very hard to get into the whiskey distilling game because the distilling of whiskey calls for an aging process.  If you want to be called straight bourbon, you have to sit in a barrel for two years.  With a company like FEW, we literally carry every single product that they make.  They take such pride in what they do.  There is so much more flavor that comes from a whiskey than any other spirit that comes from a still."

FAVORITE MOVIE: "The Boondock Saints"

HOBBIES/SPECIAL INTERESTS:  Motorcycles and exercise.  "I'm one of those people who will go and work out before starting a 12-hour shift."

WHERE HE TAKES PEOPLE FROM OUT OF TOWN: "As touristy as it sounds, the monuments! They're beautiful, they're historic, and it's a good walk through the city starting at the Jefferson on up to the Lincoln and the Washington."

JOB HE WOULD LOVED TO HAVE ATTEMPTED: The military.

PERSON HE'D MOST LIKE TO SERVE AS A CUSTOMER: Amelia Earhart ("She was such a bad-ass and a pioneer. Also, I just want to know what happened!")

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Teddy is a graduate of UMBC. In additional to his Beverage Journal writing duties, he is an entertainment reviewer.