Jessica Johnson picked up bartending as a second job to her fashion retail career. And that was all it took. "I love it when it's busy, I think you have to love it." Certainly so, and especially true at Wooster's Garden, the high-volume Midtown bar with the widest-ranging beverage menu in the city. The popular patio bar specializes in craft cocktails (at least 50 on the menu) and also features a full beer and wine program that is curated regularly. Where some bars hone in on this or that, Wooster's Garden prides themselves on having something for everyone.
Johnson, who always thought of herself as reserved, says switching to the service industry helped her grow into who she really wants to be. And it's clear she thrives on the heat of a good Friday night. "I love the puzzle of making a round as fast as you can, with ten drinks in front of you, talking to ten different people."
"She has more regulars than anyone in the company. People gravitate to her," says Steven Salazar, operating partner for The Kirby Group. He credits Johnson's work ethic and charm, continuing to add, "she is wicked fast and accurate; any bar in this country would be lucky to have her running it."
Run it she does. In the three years spent at Wooster's Garden learning the ropes of the industry, two and half of them have been as head bartender and general manager. "I am so thankful this bar has brought so much positivity to my life." She went on to credit the team around her, "we have definitely cultivated an environment where everyone pulls their weight and contributes different things."
Between checking in orders, and bartenders in the background practicing speed and accuracy, Johnson made time shake up "The Chupacabra." She did it so quickly, so agile in her moves, I almost missed it. Expect Wooster's Garden to be popping during happy hour and from 9 p.m. on.
1½ ounce Tequila
1 bar spoon Aromatic Bitters
¼ ounce jalapeño tincture (1 thin slice jalapeño)
¾ ounce grapefruit juice
¾ ounce lime juice
½ ounce Agave nectar
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Shake and double strain, this refreshing cocktail hits the spice right on the money. The jalapeño tickles just enough, while the sweet grapefruit checkmates flavors back into balance. A fun drink on the palate.
Shot of Advice: Put your positive pants on, life is only as good as your mindset.