This week we asked readers who they'd like to see profiled in upcoming editions of Bartender Chat. Zach Adams was not only mentioned multiple times, he also happens to be working behind the bar at The Pass & Provisions, which just opened. A new chef-driven concept from Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrence Gallivan, the restaurant occupies the former Gravitas space on Taft.
We talked to Adams on the eve of the restaurant's big debut.
Softball to start: How long have you been bartending?
About ten months. I was working at Haven. Justin Burrow and Aaron Lara, who is the bar manager at Pass & Provisions now, were tending bar, and it made sense to me to get back there with them and learn. I didn't get to work with Justin for as long as I would have liked, but just learning basic technique from him and how to set up and maintain a bar provided me with the foundation needed to build upon.
At Pass & Provisions, is this your first opening? What's it like opening a new place?
It is my first opening. It's kind of intense because when a restaurant or bar is operating, there's so much going on that new employees aren't as carefully scrutinized. So in that regard, it is beneficial in that it forces you to learn and know and be on top of your game. There's pressure and expectations that go along with an opening as well. But there's also a sense of confidence because at the end of the day, we all know what we're doing, that's why we're there. It reminds me of when I played football in high school. You practice all spring and summer preparing and then you get to that point where it's like, "I'm just ready to play the damn game and do what I do."
Describe the bar at P&P for us.
Exciting. We have assembled a strong team and we take our craft seriously. But there's no pretension. We're just there to make great drinks and serve the delicious food the kitchen is putting out. However, with our creative impulses I can assure you that the bar will be dynamic and one where we push ourselves to make the vibe and experience memorable. Also, Betty -- the designer -- did an amazing job. The lighting in the bar area is the coolest I have seen. And we get to have fun with the music, too. You might hear Animal Collective, Steel Pulse, ASAP Rocky, Of Montreal...there's no telling.
Do you guys have a drink menu ready to go at P&P? Can you give me a rundown of a couple of your favorites?
We do, and it's a good one. The Switchblade Swizzle is a favorite of mine. It's a well-balanced drink, refreshing and tropical but with a bit of spice compliments of the clove syrup. Also, The Clean, Well-Lighted Place, named after the Hemingway short story, is a stirred cocktail whose base is Dolin Blanc. At this point in time, that's how I would like to end my day and begin my night
You can only go to one Houston bar for the rest of your life. Which is it?
Fitzgerald's. If I didn't work almost every night, then I would be there at least once a week. Sure, there's other bars in town who make great drinks and have excellent beer selections. But I'd rather see a great live set than have an alcohol-induced nonsensical conversation any day.
What's the one type of bar you think Houston is missing?
The kind of bar I would love to have to go to is one where I can dress casually, see and hear good music and dance. There's a couple places which vaguely fit that description. But there's this huge club scene where you have to wear your designer knockoffs from Marshall's and Easter Sunday loafers to get in. Then you've got a lot of casual bars where people just sit around and talk. But I want something in between. No place that I know of has gotten that right yet.
Best story from behind the bar. Go!
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I had a guy approach me carrying a satchel which contained a handgun and a Bible. He was more inclined to want to use the gun than the Bible, which was unfortunate. I had to talk the guy down and do a little crisis intervention. And I'm happy to say that no one was harmed in the making of this story.
The Pass & Provisions is now open. Stop in and see how Zach and company are faring.