Over the next few weeks, I’ll be doing quick interviews (like speed dating with better drinks and less awkwardness) with my favorite bartenders in Bend, Oregon. This won’t be a comprehensive list. These are simply the rockstar bartenders who are good at their jobs, who make you feel at home the moment you sit at their bar, and who have made my transition to Bend a little smoother. A few recommendations were made by my trusted advisors in Bend (my advisors consist of the three rad people I know here in town).
In an effort to not be a pain in the ass, I’ll keep my questions short and simple since they’ve got work to do while I’m sidled up to the bar with my notebook getting tipsy and hitting them with deep questions like: If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be? Well, not that question exactly, because who cares what kind of tree you would be?
I started with the fancy and exclusive Loft. I know, I know, it’s a private club, which for starters seems very un-Bend. Featuring a bartender at a bar NOT open to the public is a little lame, BUT, if you’re not a member, you will end up there at some point with your boss or new BFF, or for a special event, and bartender Chris Hardy is awesome and totally worth knowing.
|Chris Hardy, bartender at The Loft in Bend, Oregon
(showing a photo of his baby daughter on his phone)
The Loft was bustling when I walked in (with a good friend, who’s a member) on a random Wednesday night. Every table was occupied, a few stragglers at the bar, and the dining room was closed off by a ceiling-to-floor curtain — a bunch of doctors were mingling quietly behind the curtain for some sort of life-saving medical event. I’m making up the life-saving part. Sounds so dramatic, saving lives at The Loft. The lighting was all glowy and flattering (love good lighting) and the tequila selection was decent. Chris totally knows his tequila, which as a tequila freak, always warms my heart.
Chris was warm and welcoming. As we talked between drink orders, I learned a few things about Chris:
His cocktail philosophy: Keep it simple. With the great artisanal spirits available nowadays, he believes they shouldn’t be hidden or overwhelmed by complex concoctions.
He’s a proud new dad and is super busy with a brand-new baby girl in the house. He showed me a picture of his little darling in the cutest hand-knit hat I’ve ever seen, made by his sister-in-law (I really want to commission an adult-sized one for myself…).
He’s a big-time Burner. He goes to Burning Man every year and the whole affair clearly lights him up — the only time he smiled wider was when he talked about his family.
He’s consulting on the new restaurant going into the old Amalia’s space. He’s helping the owner set up the bar right, which bodes well for the newcomer (well, they’re not exactly a newcomer, since it will be the second Bend outpost of Pho Viet & Cafe).
He’s been tending bar for about 20 years, and has been at The Loft for three years (you might remember his from prior stint at Zydeco as well).
Without further ado, here are a few more things you should know about Chris…
Name: Chris Hardy
Bar: The Loft of Bend (“a private social club”)
Favorite thing about Bend? The people.
Signature cocktail? The Kentucky: bourbon and Tuaca, on the rocks, with a twist. (Tuaca is an Italian vanilla citrus liqueur, but it’s manufactured in Kentucky, FYI.)
|Chris’s signature cocktail: The Kentucky. Mmmmmmm.|
Do you carry a flask? Sometimes.
What’s in your flask? Summer: Milagro Silver Select Barrel Reserve Tequila. Winter: Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.
Favorite meal in Bend? Pho at Pho Viet & Cafe on NE 3rd.
Tell me something about you that would surprise your customers: I was in the Marine Corps.
Personal Motto? Treat others the way you want to be treated.
Many thanks to Chris for answering my questions without laughing at me.
P.S. The Kentucky is delicious. Seriously. You must try.