When you walk into Reserve 101, you're immediately greeted by a wall of whiskey bottles. Like, so many whiskey bottles. I grabbed a spot at the bar and ordered one of their house signature cocktails, the Hemingway, because honestly that wall o' whiskey was kind of intimidating.
Behind the bar was Veronica. In her early 20s, with a figure I really wouldn't be pissed about having (when she's not slinging whiskey, she's modeling) and about 1.5 sleeves, she doesn't seem like the kind of girl who tolerates much bullshit. "Yeah, you have to have patience," she tells me. "I mean, people are in here drinking whiskey."
Something else it seems you need to have to work at Reserve 101 is a pretty damn good knowledge of your product. My whiskey education is quite limited, but when I decide to advance it, this might be a really good place to start. I ask Veronica how she can even remember everything on the list. "Knowing what we have isn't hard," she says. "But we taste them all so we know exactly how to describe them and help customers find exactly what they're looking for. When someone comes in here knowing more than you, that's not cool. We're here to teach people about whiskey and how to enjoy it."
Over my Hemingway, I got to know a little about Veronica and her whiskey bar.
Where are you from? Houston, Texas. Born and raised.
How long have you been bartending at Reserve 101? I've been here for about a year.
What are some other jobs you've held? Man, I was a waitress, a cocktail waitress...I was a manager at Hot Topic when I was 18. But I've been bartending for almost six years.
How would you describe the bar's aesthetic? It's a whiskey bar and we have over 300 whiskeys. The vibe is really relaxed. I mean, we get suits, we get flip-flops...there's no dress code. Everyone's really friendly, just hanging out and drinkin'.
How would you describe the crowd? It's different depending on the show or who's playing at House of Blues. It depends on the sports event, whether it's the Astros or Rockets, or what convention is in town. Often people stop in because they're in town for a convention, but when they come back into town later or maybe the next year, they'll come into the bar again. But we also have a lot of regulars. Every day I work I'll see at least five people I know. When people get off work, they come down from these buildings and trickle in.
Fill in the blank: At the end of my shift, I pour a ______. Jack Daniel's.
Do you have a specialty or a drink you pride yourself on? I make a great Old Fashioned and I enjoy making them, too. And I never mind pouring just straight shots of whiskey.
What music do you play during your shift? When I'm working, I put on '80s hair metal. Classic stuff everyone likes. It's good drinking music.
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SHOW ME HOW
Rapid Fire: Whiskey: Irish or American? American. Lemon or lime? Lime. Straight up or on the rocks? Straight up. Domestic or import? Import. Light or dark? Dark.
Reserve 101, located at 1201 Caroline, is open Monday through Saturday from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. and Sundays from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Happy hour is Monday through Friday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., when you can get $1 off all beer and wine and half-off all their signature cocktails like the Hemingway (Pyrat XO rum, Patron Citronage & lime) or the St. Mark (Maker's Mark, St. Germain, lime and orange juice). They have an extensive whiskey list so swing by, say hi to Veronica and let her pour you something you've never had before. Check out Reserve 101's Facebook page for upcoming events, like weekly whiskey tastings, and more info.