Michelle Hoff hasn't been a bartender for all that many years, but she's worked in the service industry for more than a decade. Maybe that's why she was comfortable enough to approach Michael Bolton when he was in Milwaukee a few years ago and offer to do a shot with him.
Hoff knows the ropes of the business and puts customers -- and Bolton -- at ease (for the record, Bolton did a shot of Irish whiskey). Considering her diverse resume of bars gigs like Cans, the Eastsider, The Pub and now Centanni, Hoff needs to be, and is, a versatile drink slinger.
We caught up with her recently for this latest OnMilwaukee.com bartender profile.
OnMilwaukee.com: What's your signature drink?
Michelle Hoff: A shot of whiskey. It's what I drink.
OMC: What's your least favorite drink to make?
MH: I don't mind making anything when it's slower, but when it's busy, I hate making Bloody Marys and Long Islands. That's the standard answer for every bartender.
OMC: What's the most ridiculous thing you've seen a bar patron do?
MH: Where do I start?
OMC: Public nudity? People throwing up?
MH: No, that's all pretty much standard.
OMC: Have you ever had to break up any bar fights?
MH: Not personally, but I've prevented them from happening. I just buy someone a drink and distract them. After working in the service industry for years, you kind of get an eye for it.
OMC: Do pick-up lines work?
MH: Only on the super-drunk. All pick-up lines are bad ones.
OMC: Who are better tippers, men or women?
MH: It all depends if they have been in the service industry before and can appreciate what you're doing. I've had men and women stiff me, and I've had men and women tip me a sh*t ton of money.
OMC: What bars do you go when you're not working?
MH: Up and Under, Twisted Fork, the Highbury, The Pub. Mostly East Side, Bay View and Riverwest.
OMC: What's the best part about bartending?
MH: It comes very easy to me, and it's not very easy for everybody. I understand it. It's fast-paced and quick money. The people are awesome.
OMC: What do you like least about it?
MH: The people.
OMC: Do you drink when you bartend?
MH: Occasionally, yes. I have that kill switch, where I can handle what I'm drinking.
Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.