An aspiring priest walks into a bar…
Eight years ago a cherub-faced young man approached me at The Chat Room looking for work. As I typically prefer to hire people with at least some bar experience outside of just drinking, this situation would normally elicit a response of “Sorry, we’re fully staffed at the moment.” Dave Mayer, or “Tiki Dave,” as we know him today, seemed like a pretty bright guy, though. He had a great sense of humor, and displayed the promising, go-getter attitude of a 22-year-old who was recently laid off from a job at a camera store.
As every bartender should, he began work later that week paying his dues. He was a stickler for policy and procedure, never complained, and constantly sought out instruction on how to get better at his job. To all of the people out there who wonder how you get that promotion to bartender, that’s how you do it. Dave was promoted to bartender after about a year and hasn’t looked back since.
I’ve watched Tiki Dave go through many phases while growing as a bartender and a person. Though his co-workers have taken to assigning humorous monikers to these phases, such as “Vietnam Dave,” Captain Dave,” or “Pea Coat Dave” the common tie that has bound all of the Daves together has been his continual fetishizing about all things tropical and maritime. (I forgot to mention Bondage Dave.) His perverse love affair with rum, playing fast and loose behind the bar, and tropical flavors has coalesced into a persona that my peers and I in the industry admire and respect. It’s now impossible to have a conversation about Tiki cocktails in this town without mentioning “Tiki Dave” Mayer.
Dave has always been a great sounding board for me when I’m in the process of creating new drinks. We both dove into the craft cocktail world at the same time, but it seems to me that we swam in slightly different directions. While my approach and methods tend to lean toward the austere, Dave’s style has always been off-the-cuff, a little puckish, and definitely tongue-in-cheek. He’s always kept me from flying too close to the sun while I try to keep him from sailing off the edge of the Earth.
His relationship with his brother, prominent Boston bartender John Mayer, has been another vital component in Dave’s development as a bartender. Though their conversations often turn to literature and music, a common love of all things booze is part of the backbone of their relationship. They definitely march through the cocktail world to the beat of different drummers (John’s drummer being Art Blakey, and Dave’s being “Philthy” Phil Taylor of Motorhead), but they seem to find common ground in that they both enjoy “La Dulce Vida,” living a simple life with an epicurean flare.
Tiki Dave is a truly professional and entertaining barman. He’s the only guy that I know who can make the perfect Banana Daquiri while sculpting a banana into a dolphin’s head with cherry eyeballs, while ranting about ducks only being able to cross the street at 14 ½ mph. I know that sounds a little crazy and doesn’t really make sense, but if you take some time to get to know Dave as a bartender, I’m sure you’ll learn to love him as much as we do. You can catch up with Dave on Wednesday nights after 9pm at The Usual for Tiki Night.
Dave gives a shout out to the Texas Ranger. #NeverEverQuit
Here are a few excerpts from my interview with Dave that I think everyone might find entertaining:
Q: What’s your bartending theme song?
A: “There Stands the Glass” by Webb Pierce and “Misirlou” by Dick Dale and his Del-Tones
Q: What’s your advice for new bartenders?
A: Don’t be afraid to ask. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Find a barman you can trust. Please and thank you.
Q: What’s your favorite drink?
A: Whatever I just spent threehours making a syrup for…or the Daiquiri. The Daiquiri is the right answer, right?
Q: What’s your spirit animal?
A: Gary Stewart…no Alfred Apaka
Q: What’s your favorite flower?
A: Certainly not orchids. They’re too much like the flesh of men. Gardenias look nice in a cup.
The Participation Trophy
1 oz. Gold Barbados rum
¾ oz. yellow chartreuse
½ oz. apricot brandy
1 oz. pineapple juice
¾ oz. lemon juice
Blend with ice until frapped. Pile high in glass with a disc of orange for garnish.