What do you like to drink after a shift? “Beer.”
What is the all-time best dive bar jukebox song? ““Copacabana” by Barry Manilow.”
After all these years bartending and creating drinks, do you still enjoy going out to bars? “Absolutely.”
Name the first good drink you ever drank and where you had it. “I remember one pretty specifically! My buddy who bartended around the corner from where I worked made this insane Ramos Gin Fizz riff. It had blue cheese-infused gin, pineapple and some kind of vanilla/cream syrup. I just remember it being incredibly delicious. It was named Sailing the Seas of Cheese.”
What’s your favorite cocktail and food pairing? “A Manhattan and Cheetos. Sounds out there, but it works.”
What drink are you most proud of creating? “Several years ago, I had the opportunity to work at this fantastic, farm-to-table restaurant in Omaha, Nebraska, called Lot 2. Every employee was cross-trained, as a server, host, expo and behind the bar, so it was a pretty collaborative environment. As someone who was fairly new to the industry, having a cocktail on their menu after a short time working there gave me so much pride. The cocktail was pretty simple: Old Tom Gin, Yellow Chartreuse, lemon, and St. Germain in equal parts, and a couple dabs of chocolate bitters. Shaken and served up. It was a solid, balanced cocktail and was well-received. To this day, I’m grateful for being a part of that restaurant.”
Is there one person (dead or alive) you’d like to make a cocktail for? “The thought of someone bringing a dead person into a bar is hilarious. I suppose I’d make them a Corpse Reviver. Just kidding, comedian Richard Belzer.”
What’s your favorite shot-and-a-beer combination? “Blanco tequila and Stiegl Radler.”
What is the one tool that you always make sure to pack when you’re traveling for business? “My toothbrush.”
Mike Dougherty is the bar manager of Minneapolis establishment Centro.
Interview has been condensed and edited.