Issue 28

Bartender Portrait: Alex Jochim

Bartender Portrait: Alex Jochim

This issue of Food & Spirits Magazine’s bartender portrait article spotlights someone that most of the bar-going crowd in Omaha has encountered at one time or another. Either as a bartender, one of the faces constantly attending to details at Benson First Friday or at local art gallery Petshop, Alex Jochim is a familiar face to most of us. He’s a top-notch bartender and has served thousands of cocktails, beers and shots throughout the Metro area.

Food & Spirits Magazine: Where do you work and how long have you worked there?

Alex: Jakes Cigars & Spirits in Benson for over 8 years.

FSM: How long have you been bartending and what are some of the past places you bartended at?

Alex: I’ve been bartending for 12 years and besides Jakes I’ve worked at Yia Yia’s in Lincoln, Marz Bar in Lincoln, Pianos in New York City, and House of Loom in Omaha.

FSM: When did you know you wanted to be behind the bar?

Alex: Since I was a kid – ha! Growing up, my family watched “Cheers” regularly and I fell in love with that social community that the show projected, and the idea of the bar as a second home and family. I still watch Cheers all the time – and especially times when I’m feeling a bit burnt out behind the bar, a little Sam Malone goes a long way to make me appreciate it again. But it was only until I was offered a bar gig out of the blue that I realized I could fill Malone’s shoes as a social barman.

FSM: Have you had any people along the way who have helped you be the bartender you are today?

Alex: 100%. Everyone I’ve worked with, even to this day, has taught me things. Obviously my senior bartending crew at Yia Yia’s and Marz shaped me the most, coming to them as a beginner. But it was the high paced nights and eclectic crowd and coworkers in New York that polished me up. 

FSM: Where do you find inspiration?

Alex: Behind the bar, I find inspiration in my regulars, which at Jakes is really a second family. It truly is a home for me and knowing I can count on those people for any kind of support inspires me. I’m also inspired by images and ideas of the past: knowing that these second homes and social families have existed and flourished for ages makes me want to honor that in my bartending. 

FSM: What is the best part of your job? And the worst?

Alex: The best is the social aspect. I love being able to socialize, do business, partake, etc while I work. The worst is that bartending is a very transparent position to be in.  You’re often expected to be the “life of the party” and/or the rock that people can bring their own problems to.  But sometimes after a hard or long day, it can be hard to project that.  You really have to turn a switch.   The upside is that a beer usually helps 😉

FSM: Do you think bartending will be any different in 20 years?

Alex: I’m sure it will. Drinking trends continue to change, evolve, and also reflect back on past trends.   I don’t think this will change. 

FSM: What makes a good bartender?

Alex: There are three parts to bartending: 

1). You have to have some degree of knowledge and skill over cocktails, spirits, beer, and wine. 

2). You have to have speed, be attentive, and be aware. 

3). You have to have a personality or be somebody that customers want to sit in front of for a given period of time (good looks might fit into this one).

FSM: What is your favorite drink to make?

Alex: If I’m slow, I like to get creative and make specialty drinks on a whim. Some of the best cocktails come from the moment. If I’m busy, a Highlife bottle.

FSM: What do you drink?

Alex: A single tall Fernet and Coke, Pilsners, IPAs, Busch Light, whiskey and The “Turnt Up” (Deep Eddy Grapefruit vodka press).

FSM: What’s something you wished people knew about being a bartender?

Alex: In Omaha, most people go to bed at a reasonable time due to a daytime work schedule. Bartenders don’t. So, please don’t schedule a meeting, phone call, lunch date, anything really, before noon. We appreciate it.

FSM: Describe the perfect cocktail?

Alex: Strong, smooth and tasty. Preferably whiskey or gin and served by a babe. Oh, and free.

FSM: What do you think some of the current trends are with bartending?

Alex: Everyone’s into Amaros and Mezcals. 

FSM: Where in Omaha are some of your favorite places to go out for drinks?

Alex: I’m one for atmosphere, dark bars, and classics. Anywhere in Benson or Mai Tai Lounge (yes it’s still there), Green Onion, O’Leaver’s, The Underwood, Heron Bay, The Nifty, River City Saloon, VIP Lounge, Rose & Crown, and I live two blocks from The Sydney so there’s that too.


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