An Ohio native with a passion for bartending, Brenda Riepenhoff first embarked on her craft upon moving to New York City as a way to supplement her income from her job in the music industry.
Quickly falling in love, she quit music and devoted herself to hospitality. Brenda currently slings cocktails overlooking the Manhattan skyline at Westlight, the buzzed-about rooftop bar located atop Brooklyn's William Vale hotel.
When did that Eureka moment happen when you realized your mission is to be a bartender?
I was working in the music industry and realized I could justify buying new liquor and ice cube trays but not equipment for the studio!
What are the TOP 5 skills every bartender should have?
Patience, multitasking, adaptability, work ethic, passion for the industry.
Which cocktail is the biggest pain in the ass to make, pardon our French?
Martinis, because everyone wants it differently, you have to ask a zillion questions, and some people are extremely particular (I want people to enjoy their drink, but with Martinis, it comes with a lot of small details to remember that change with each customer).
Well Vodka legit takes on other flavors, you can mix it with anything and you can use it for Spirit-forward or more refreshing cocktails.
Is there a favorite life hack you learned at your job?
How to clean the inside of bottles easily.
What are your passions outside the world of Spirits?
My family heritage, learning German, reading classics, health foods.
I do not want to be an owner, but I do want to have more control over programs and doing more things on the business side of the industry.
What would you be doing if you weren't a bartender?
If i wasn't a bartender I would probably be working in the music industry still, but now i'd like to have been a translator or a book publisher.
Tell us what's your favorite tool of the trade and why.
Micro planes..it's just so rewarding to finish a drink with grating something over it so sexy like nutmeg, chocolate, or lime zest.
Fast-forward five years. Where do you see yourself?
I see myself still behind the bar but working fewer shifts, but also running a bar program, hopefully as bar manager. I do not want to be an owner, but I do want to have more control over programs and doing more things on the business side of the industry.
A Genie tells you to pick someone to fix a drink for; dead or alive, real or fictional. Who would it be?
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