Meet Your Mixologist: Camber Lay, Quiver Bar

In a saloon town such as San Francisco, the bartender plays a crucial role. Confessor, friend, sounding board — the man or woman behind the plank sees to it that our needs are met with elegance, grace and often wit. They see humanity at its best and most convivial, but also offer a nod and a welcome to the lonely. But what do they see when they look at us? What are the tricks of their trade? And what lessons have they learned along the way? In this Examiner weekly feature, we talk to some of our local bartenders to find out.

Quiver Bar at Epic Roasthouse

369 The Embarcadero, S.F.; (415) 369-9955;

Talk about a room with a view. If there’s anything epic about the bar atop the new eatery Epic Roasthouse, it’s the stunning view of the Bay. It’s easy to while away the hours drinking in the view this cozy lounge offers. And it’s even easier to while away the hours drinking the superb selections from mixologist Camber Lay’s wonderful cocktail menu, such as the Treasure Island. Yes, you have an eyeful of Treasure Island through the window, but you can get a mouthful of it, too, with this landmark cocktail. Priced at $100, the upscale French 77 for two is served tableside, mixes Hennessy Paradis, Meyer lemons and bitters, and is topped with your choice of dry or sweet Veuve Clicquot. Sure, it’s for the high-rollers, but everything else on the menu averages $10. The bar eats are a bargain at $7 and $8.

Where are you from? Colorado. I grew up in North Glenn.

How close to South Park is that? I actually lived in South Park. It’s actually in Fairplay, Colo., and I made snowboards there for a summer, and I seriously met Cartman.

You were making snowboards? I was going to college in Durango, and we were all snowboarders. It was the perfect opportunity to make snowboards for a summer.

Why did you get into bartending? I wasn’t snowboarding enough, so I moved up to Summit County. I started working in the restaurant Swiss Haven. I was in pastry and garde manger, and then I started bartending a little bit.

Wait, you were in pastry and what? Garde manger. Cold appetizers.

When you are a patron, what do you typically order? I just got back from Mexico for a week, so right now it’s margaritas. But I drink every night, so I go through phases. I don’t drink Fernet. Fernet and I had our heyday, and that was it.

What’s the most obnoxious drink you’ve ever made? Some gentleman at Frisson ordered a Cosmo with the cranberry on the side. He wanted the juice on the side so he could add it himself.

That said, any pointers on bar etiquette? When I was over at Frisson, we had this party of 30 people. Everyone showed up at once and there were only two bartenders. There was a woman trying to get my attention. She said, “I just want a Cosmo.” I said, “I’ll be right with you,” and she said, “I guess I’ll have to wait my turn.” Well, yeah.

Why is this called Quiver Bar? Cupid’s Span is the name of the sculpture back there. Quiver is the container that you carry your arrows in.

So I take it the restaurant, Epic, is not named after the Faith No More song? No. The chef wanted to make something that was epic.

What would be epic to you? An epic run at Banff. It’s north of Calgary. My husband and I went there two years ago. It was negative 20 degrees and 3 feet of snow. It was pretty epic.

Being such an avid snowboarder, how are you faring in urban San Francisco? Perfectly. My husband, who I met in Breckenridge, is opening a restaurant real soon on Lower Haight.

What’s it called? Uva. It means grape in Italian. It’s going to be Italian enoteca.

Featured drink: Farewell to Arms

» ½ freshly squeezed lime

» ½ oz. vanilla tea simple syrup

» ½ oz. freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

» 1.5 ozs. Oronoco rum

Pour into an ice-filled shaker. Strain over ice. Garnish with a lime wheel.

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