Lynn House is the National Brand Ambassador for PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur. In this email interview she talks about staying healthy in the job, up-and-coming cocktail cities, developing drinks for national accounts, and her favorite bar tool.
You sustained a pretty severe bartending injury a while back. Is there any advice you'd give bartenders on avoiding injury in the workplace, especially in the era of heavier shaking ice?
Last year I sustained “bartender’s elbow”, ie Tennis Elbow or tendinitis. It was during the James Beard awards and I shook approximately 800 cocktails. It was incredibly painful and I had to wear a compression brace and soft cast for about 7 months. As the industry becomes more and more intense, bartenders are experiencing more and more injuries. Last year in Chicago we were very fortunate to have the head of the Mayo Clinic come and do a seminar as part of the Chicago Beverage Roundtable Series.
One of the greatest issues bartenders have when it comes to health is lifestyle. Long hours, late nights, repetitive motion, imbibing ect…… My best advice to bartenders is this: Pay attention to your body. Stay hydrated, water is key. Incorporate yoga, pilates or some other form of exercise into your daily routine. It is important to stretch. There are a plethora of hand, back, leg and arm exercises you can do. Listen to your body. If you are sore, then take care of that part of your body. Give it a rest.
Look at how you are shaking. Be ergonomical. It’s not worth showboating. Bartenders need to think long-term when it comes to their physical health. It’s important to think about posture, wear shoes with support, do mini stretches during a shift, drink plenty of water, take glucosamine and other vitamins that support muscle health. This industry is very stressful on the body, it’s important to recognize the stress and counterbalance it.
Lastly, get plenty of rest. Our body needs a break.
As a brand ambassador you must spend a lot of time on planes and going from late night events to early morning flights: Is there anything you've learned to keep yourself feeling good and healthy while being on the road all the time?
Being a brand ambassador places different challenges on your health. A big part of the job is actually eating and drinking. You are constantly in accounts and it’s important that you support those programs. My first few weeks in the job, I was a mess. Overly tired, losing my voice, and putting on what I call the Brand Ambassador 15. Not unlike the Freshman 15 you put on when you go to college. My sleep pattern shifted. Suddenly I was not only up early, but had to perform early in the morn as well. Getting myself onto a normal sleep schedule was difficult. However I realized early on if I was to have any longevity in this side of the business I was going to have to learn to sleep differently.
So when I wake up, I get up. It’s important to stimulate your eyes. It helps get you into a normal sleep cycle. I wake up, take a multi vitamin, when at home I step outside, when in a hotel I open the binds and let the sun in. I have also incorporated a simple 20 min workout that I can do in a hotel. Not everywhere has a fantastic gym, so bring your gym with you. Pack work out clothing, sneakers, and I travel with elastic bands. Stay hydrated. I drink water at every visit and travel with water bottles so that I can hydrate in between.
Don’t go shot-for-shot. In fact, I rarely drink shots when on the road. Also, I will ask for half of a cocktail, and tip as if I had a whole one. You don’t do yourself or your brand any favors by being wasted. When at the airport I always walk, I never take the electronic sidewalk. I also pack healthy baked snacks and dried fruit, so that when I get back to the hotel and I want a little something to munch on, I have healthier options. When on the road, I try to make sure that at least one of my meals each day is a salad.
To date I have been to 20 different cities. It is amazing to see how cocktail culture is evolving.. I think the most notable cities have been Tampa, Providence, DC and Columbus. There are some great future Rockstars here. They all have similar characteristics. Younger beverage communities, very active USBG chapters and they are HUNGRY. In all of the above cities I was more than impressed with their commitment and talent.
I see that you were in San Francisco, where I live, this summer. What did you think of the scene, or what bars did you like best?
San Francisco was a very interesting visit. First of all I was shocked by the weather. It was August, I had nothing but sundresses and I was cold. [EDITOR'S NOTE: THIS HAPPENS TO EVERYBODY. HOPE YOU ENJOY THE CABLE CAR SWEATSHIRT YOU PROBABLY HAD TO PURCHASE.] I will be more prepared on my next visit. Cocktail culture is king here. Amazing programs no matter where I went. What surprised me was the size of many of the bars I had visited. So many names that I have read about and when I visited the establishment I was pleasantly surprised by the intimacy of the space. My favorites were Trick Dog and Rye.
What's your favorite bar tool and why? (Mine is my anvil ice pick that I use every day.)
My favorite bar tool is a soda siphon gun. I am all about fresh. I love that I can create fresh sodas to compliment seasonal cocktails. I have 3 at home and use them all the time. If you look at any of the my past menus, you will see some sort of seasonal fresh soda in the mix.
How is developing recipes for big national accounts/chain restaurants differ from the same task at bars like Blackbird?
Developing recipes for national accounts is all about simplicity and approachability. While at Blackbird, I would often take my cue from the chef. It was not unusual to see crazy spices and unique herbs on my cocktail menu. There I had the opportunity to talk directly with my guest. With national accounts I do not have that luxury, nor am I able to train every bartender that is making that cocktail. I also deal with control states, they may not have accessibility to some of the bitters, and secondary spirits that I like to work with. So when I am creating a cocktail for a National Account, it is crucial for me to know what is available in the market and to work with it.
What is your current favorite drink with PAMA that someone else came up with? Can you share the recipe?
Joseph Haggard at The Grange in Rhode Island came up with a fantastic PAMA cocktail. We were hosting a USBG luncheon there. I left him in charge of the cocktail menu. He created a beautiful tiki-inspired cocktail using PAMA and Paw Paws.
Ocean State Tropic
By Joseph Haggard of The Grange
2 oz PAMA/paw paw puree ( equal parts of both)
2 oz Rittenhouse
.5 oz Admiral Nelson Spiced Rum
.5 oz lime juice
.5 oz simple syrup
Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin with ice and shake until well chilled. Fill a hurricane or canning jar with crushed ice, strain cocktail into glass. Float .25 oz PAMA and .25 oz Angostura bitters on top. Garnish with a fresh sprig of mint.
Sounds delicious! Thanks Lynn!