Featured bartender: Dream Dance Steak's Candie Held
"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee.com is back for another round – brought to you by Aperol, Pinnacle, Jameson, Fireball, Red Stag and Avion. The whole month of February, we're serving up intoxicatingly fun articles on bars and clubs – including guides, the latest trends, bar reviews and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!
This bar month we've been featuring a few bartenders whose jobs are not in traditional Milwaukee taverns. Few places are farther from a corner tap than the upscale but welcoming Dream Dance Steak, a fine dining restaurant in Potawatomi Bingo Casino.
It is behind the bar there that you'll find veteran bartender Candie Held, who in addition to rooting for the Brewers and being a self-described "gymnastics mom," makes a mean – if unusual – old fashioned with blueberries.
We asked Held about how tending bar at a fine dining establishment is different and what special skills are required for keeping casino guests happy.
OnMilwaukee.com: Give us a little of your background behind the bar.
Candie Held: I have been in the business for 19 years – Wow! – and have chosen to stay behind the bar. I enjoy conversation and really getting to know my guests.
OMC: How long have you been tending bar at Dream Dance Steak?
CH: Three years. I spent the previous seven years working at The Fire Pit Sports Bar and Grill.
OMC: Has the experience there been different from your previous gigs?
CH: Absolutely! I have learned so much more about wine, cuisine and fine dining.
OMC: I assume you spend more time pouring wine than you would at a tavern. Is it hard to learn the ins and outs of the massive wine list there?
CH: Oh certainly, but I find that learning the wines is easier with tasting them. I also enjoy wine tasting on my free time. Dream Dance Steak's wine list is great because there is such a variety and we offer almost the entire list at retail pricing.
OMC: Do you have to know more about pairing food and drinks more than you might at a traditional bar?
CH: It's important to know food pairings because it can make a dining experience go from great to outstanding. I did not do this so much at the past bars I have been at.
OMC: What's your clientele like?
CH: It is so comfortable at Dream Dance Steak. We have everyone from business executives to couples on a romantic date to casino guests all mingling with one another. On Friday nights it's like Cheers.
OMC: Do you ever get to test the chefs' ideas for new dishes?
CH: Yes, I always insist on trying new dishes. I believe in being able to describe dishes and answering guest's questions about menu items honestly. I like giving guests an idea of what they can expect in their meal.
OMC: What is your specialty/signature drink?
CH: Brandy old fashioned made with fresh blueberries and Bloody Marys.
OMC: What is the most ridiculous thing you've seen a drunk patron do?
CH: Come in and eat two entrees – a 14-ounce lobster tail and a bone-in rib-eye – then take three desserts home. Wow, was he hungry!
OMC: Ever break up any bar fights at any of your jobs?
CH: No, I am very fortunate.
OMC: What are the best and worst pick-up lines you've heard used in a bar?
CH: "Your wedding ring isn't very big – must be room for me." It should be known that I am very happily married. My husband asked me to a Brewers game on our first date … it was a sure way to win my heart.
OMC: What are the best and worst parts of being a bartender?
CH: Best: meeting people. Worst: having people ask me what my real job is.
OMC: Do you go out to bars when you're not working? Do you have a favorite bartender?
CH: Yes. One of my favorite bartenders is Danielle at El Fuego. I met her when she started at El Beso. She is everything you expect from a bartender nice, attentive and she cares.
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