Depending on who's pouring the drinks, this place is either a dive bar or a cocktail lounge. The corner watering hole on Polk Street is as dim in the day as it is at night, shots of bourbon and bottles of Miller High Life illuminated gold by the sliver of sunlight peeking onto the steel-top counter. Red velvet booths line the space, stretched from many a visit. We held down the corner of the bar for a late afternoon sip with Jason Rosensteel, who left a six-figure paycheck in the tech world for a new beginning behind the stick.
How long have you been bartending? I've been doing it for about a year. Left my tech job. Midlife crisis, dude. I'm putting myself back in the crowd level where I'm washing dishes. I just lost sight of it. I used to stay at five-star resorts. Fly first class. You get jaded pretty quick. You change quick. It's the new-money curse. This has been a big character builder. I hope it keeps going.
What didn't you like about your work in the tech industry? I walked out of my consulting job. I said “Screw it.” The nuts and bolts of it was that you're working for someone else's dream. You get tired of all the egos in the startup world. Everybody with their new product. All these companies clawing over $10 million. Everyone hoping for some big payout. It never felt completely right to me.
So you took the lesser-money route. Hell, yeah, I did. I could walk into a lot of companies and get six figures. Easy. But I walked away from that. I figure living modestly for a while would give me new perspective. But I still drive a Porsche. I've got a couple nice things. But it's not what I'm living for anymore.
What do you like to drink? Personally, I'm into IPAs. When it comes to liquor, my standby is a medium-high-shelf gin on the rocks with some tonic water and a squeeze of lime. No bartender can screw that up.
What do you love most about your job? It's the best social networking that I know of. I keep one foot in the tech world, but I do that on my own time. Here, the transaction is pure. You're making something that someone is going to enjoy. There's instant gratification. And the sales happen on the spot. I'm coming from a background where I'm trying to nurture $50,000 in sales for six months and worrying about it. When I'm in my groove, I like to see different colored drinks lined across the bar. That's beautiful to me. It's like a kitchen, and behind me is my spice cabinet.
• 6 oz. Racer 5 IPA (or similar)
• 1½ oz. cachaca
• ½ oz. agave syrup
• ½ oz. orange juice
• Lemon slice
• Lime slice
• 4 to 5 mint Leaves
Muddle mint, lemon, lime in mixing glass. Add cachaca, agave. Fill glass with ice and shake. Strain into high-ball glass with no ice. Add IPA and top with orange juice to taste.
BAR info: 1121 Polk St. · (415) 567-1711 · blursf.com