a piece of
R’evolution’s newest addition to the bar talks to us about cucumbers, fighting, and Clint Eastwood.
JONATHAN NUÑEZ IS QUITE THE CHARMER at his bar. I’ve seen him juggle three sets of cougars at once - this while pointing at me in an obvious 'what do you want' gesture. He’s hilarious, sharp, and one of the nicest barkeeps in the business. What keeps him cool? Napkin Local called him up one evening to find out what makes the man behind the beard go.
Jonathan Nuñez: What’s up brother?
Napkin Local: Hey what’s happening man?
JN: I’m sitting at the house watching an old Clint Eastwood movie.
NL: Which one?
NL: Is it good? I haven’t seen it.
JN: Surprisingly yeah. I mean the acting is horrible, but it’s good for getting in the times. Good storyline…
JN: Well let’s do this then.
NL: So a group walks in to your bar at 11pm and orders 7 Ramos Gin Fizzes. What’s your first thought, and what is the first thing you say?
JN: First thought is “fuck my life”. If some asshole comes in at 11 and orders 7 fucking Ramos Gin Fizzes, my first word would be, “really?” Because at my bar you have to put the brakes on. But it would be something in that fashion. “Seriously? That’s really what you want?” Otherwise, I would be so angry that I would want to cut off my own arm and beat him with it.
NL: Are there any dead politicians you would fight in an MMA match?
JN: Theodore Roosevelt. That’s a badass dude. I would want to fight him. I would train like in Rocky III. That’s what it would take for Theodore Roosevelt.
NL: Do you think you’d win?
JN: No. (laughing) it would be a blood match.
NL: If you had to pick 2 well-known New Orleans bartenders to be your parents, who would you choose?
JN: Historical well known or do you mean the cats that are working right now?
JN: As a bartender parent I would say Murf Reeves, or maybe in a broken family kind of way, a certain older gentleman that works at the Monteleone.
NL: I’d ask who, but you shouldn’t say.
NL: Who would you say is your favorite bartender right now?
JN: As a customer, I would have to say Jonathan over at Bar Tonique. He works and you can tell the dude is very passionate like an artist making a painting. Like he doesn’t want anybody fucking with his painting.
NL: Are there any rare or interesting bottles of wine or spirits on your home bar?
JN: Well first off, nothing lasts in my home. If it’s in my house it’s getting drank. …a bottle that I would run into a burning building for -- Gran Marnier 100 year. Not 150. I would let that bitch burn. Besides that, I would say my grandfather’s micro-bottle of mid-1920’s Bacardi Gold.
NL: Where do you derive your bartending style?
JN: I enjoy learning, so the craft thing is fun. But I don’t see myself as a mixologist per se. I see myself more as a studier of people within the bar, and how I notice how culture changes drinks. I think that is why I have more of an affinity for classic cocktails.
NL: Any least favorite requests?
JN: “What do you like making? What’s good here? Or what should I drink?” I don’t fucking know. I love making Aviations, Last Words, and Boulevardiers, but I know you’re not going to like them because you have fake breasts and the IQ of a grapefruit. You will probably like something with a cucumber and St. Germain and then tell me “..not too sweet.”
NL: What would be and ideal order then?
JN: “Can I have an Aviation? Can I have an old-school pre-rye Cognac Sazerac? Can I have a proper 2:1 or even 1:1 Martini?” Or a Vesper with Ransom Old Tom gin. Boom.
NL: Do you shake or stir your Vespers?
JN: Oh, stir all day. And I like to strain it through rice. Fantastic.
NL: Speaking of rice, how many pounds of crawfish can you eat?
JN: An infinite amount because I never get full on crawfish. To me, the amount of energy required to open the crawfish is equal to the amount of energy received from the crawfish tail.
NL: Is it the same for raw oysters?
JN: No. I’ve never tried to Man vs.Food the raw oyster bit. And I’m not shucking the oyster. That’s like busting through concrete for half of a Lucky Charm marshmallow.
NL: So how long does it take you everyday to make sure your beard looks fantastic?
JN: (laughing) I wake up in the morning with it fantastic.
NL: It just grows like that?
JN: I don’t even shave.
NL: And when you get angry, do metal claws come out of your hands as well?
JN: I took a personality test on Facebook, the X-Men one, like who I’m going to be… Of course I got Wolverine.
"You will probably like something with a
cucumber and St. Germain
and then tell me
'..not too sweet'."
NL: If you were going out with a gay friend of yours, like let’s say Michael Glassberg, would you go to Oz or Bourbon Pub?
JN: Bourbon Pub. Oz is has trippy lights. Things can happen. That’s weird. Yeah, Bourbon Pub.
NL: You’re at R’evolution right now right? How’s the vibe there?
JN: I like the quality of booze that’s behind the bar, and the wine. I feel like my ability to serve matches the quality of the product as opposed to other places that I’ve worked where I’ve had to screw the guest, or make them think they’re getting a high-end product when they’re getting charged a whole lot of money. In other words, the people that are selecting the stuff I’m selling, well, it’s just top-notch. And it’s such a stress relief to know that when somebody gets the bill, whether they think it or not, I don’t feel like I’m cheating them. Every dollar they’re spending, they’re getting more than what they payed for.
NL: What are some of your favorite places to go for a pre/post-work snack?
JN: I would say pre-work is Bourbon House for those bourbon milk punches. I went in to try one just because I had never had one, and I had like 7 in the hour before work. After work, I like going over to Chart Room, and I’ve woken up with Rally’s cheese fries on my face. I don’t eat a lot before work. I don’t like going into work full.
NL: Wanna end this with your favorite Chris Hannah-ism?
JN: I don’t know if it’s so much a quote of his or more of a mentality. But he will be in a group and there will be a hot chick. He will ask like 3 people, hey, who’s that girl? And he may say nothing else about her, and he definitely won’t talk to her. --NL