Bartender Chat: Bryce of Gigi's Asian Bistro

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I still had a few things I needed to cross off my Christmas list that I had been putting off, as these specific items could only be found at the Galleria. Then, like a total nutjob, I decided to go shopping this past weekend and paid for it with my sanity. Its enough to drive a girl to drink. Oh hey, speaking of drinking, did you know that you can get a really good cocktail at Gigi's Asian Bistro in the Galleria? It felt so good to take a break, escape the crowds, rest our aching feet and enjoy a Manhattan. We were like football players during a timeout on the sideline, but instead of downing Gatorade, it was whiskey.

We walked through the pretty dining room, where more than 15,000 silk cherry blossoms hang from the ceiling, and made our way to our comfort zone. Sitting at the bar, we met Bryce. Originally from Oregon, he moved to Houston in 2004. He was working in real estate, but when the company went under, he went back to school, made his way to Gigi's and has been bartending since May. We got to know a little about Bryce and his bar before heading back out onto the "field" to join the other procrastinators and finish our shopping.

How would you describe the bar's aesthetic? It's laid-back, but classy. You can come in wearing shorts and a T-shirt or a business suit. Just recently, we opened up the whiskey bar. We brought in the full Glenfiddich and Balvenie lines. We're the second bar in the nation to have the Glenfiddich 50. We've had it for about two weeks, and we've served a couple. I mean, it's $1,000 a glass. The only other place that has the 50 is the MGM Grand in Vegas, and they only sell it by the bottle.

How would you describe the crowd? We have regulars -- people that work at the mall and upstairs in finance and, of course, just people shopping. We get a few celebrities, too -- we had Bush Sr. in here about a month ago, we see a lot of basketball players and Roger Clemens was in a few weeks ago.

Working at Gigi's in the Galleria, does it ever get overwhelming, especially this time of year? Sure, it can get hectic, but things run pretty smoothly. Gigi's in here every day making sure everything is running the way it's supposed to. She's very hands-on and detail-oriented. I think that's reflected here.

Do you have a specialty or a drink you pride yourself on? We have a brand new cocktail menu out now, and one of the drinks is a cucumber martini -- it tastes so good, just like a ripe cucumber, really fresh. My favorite is what you're drinking now, the Manhattan. It's simple, clean and super-smooth.

Where do you go to get a drink or something to eat? Community Bar is pretty much my home base. Ninety percent of the time, I'll go in and ask Bob to make me his special or just whatever he feels like cooking that day. It's always so good.

What is one thing that would make Houston a better city? I love winter sports, so it would be nice if we had four seasons...so either that or gambling. In Oregon there are Indian casinos everywhere. I mean, there's so much money in this town I think it would be huge.

*Wildcard: What do you consider the greatest threat to your personal stability? If Prohibition was enacted again, because I'd be out of a job.

Gigi's Asian Bistro & Dumpling Bar is located at 5085 Westhemer, #B2515 in The Galleria with entrances inside the mall and on Westheimer, over by Del Frisco's. Stop in, say hi to Bryce and check out the world-class whiskey selection. On Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., there's all-you-can-eat dim sum for $15.

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