As a full-time bartender at the lively MePa hotspot Brass Monkey, Kelsey Mathes is involved in every aspect of crafting perfect cocktails for her customers. After working in local restaurants in her hometown of Rochester, she transplanted to NYC a few years ago and landed a gig at Brass Monkey almost immediately. As rooftop season in NYC gets into full swing, Mathes is serving up a fresh batch of summer concoctions.
What are your responsibilities as a bartender at Brass Monkey? I’m a full-time bartender so during day shifts my responsibilities include setting up the entire restaurant, often working alone, or only with one other bartender or busboy. When I’m working solo; I’m the bartender, waitress, bidder, and runner all in one. Otherwise, we all pitch in and work as a team to make sure that every position is covered and things are running smoothly. How did you land your first hospitality gig? I started checking coats at my hometown vineyard and party rental facility. From there I made bagels, and even worked as a substitute cook. My first front-of-house restaurant job was at an Applebees when I was 17-years-old. The manager liked my personality—and they had a server opening—so they put me right on the floor. What’s are the most fulfilling and challenging parts of your job? I have a lot of close friendships with the regulars and with my co-workers at the bar, which is one of my favorite parts of working here. It’s like having a second home in the city. I started working at Brass Monkey very soon after I moved to NYC and it’s been a very big part of learning what the city is all about. One of my biggest challenges is going from zero to slammed in the span of 15 minutes. You get used to chatting and being relaxed and then you really have to make a 180 degree turn in a very short time. It’s important to recognize that change. Has your job taught you any important tips for at-home entertaining? We get a little bit of every kind of drinker at Brass Monkey and they enjoy many different types of cocktails and drinks. Because of that I’ve developed a wide range of tastes when it comes to entertaining, and I like to make a variety of cocktails available to my guests. How does the warm weather change the flow at work? Summer brings a lot of people into NYC, so you get to talk with people who are traveling from all over the place.
How hectic does Brass Monkey’s rooftop get during the summer? In the summer the rooftop fills up after 3pm each day and basically stays full all night. It’s nice because it overlooks the Hudson River and you can just grab a table and hang out all night. It’s a really relaxed vibe.
What’s your favorite summer cocktail this season? Brass Monkey Lemonade: 2oz Grey Goose Citron ½ oz. agave sweetener 1/2oz. Fresh lime juice 3 squeezed lemons Shake Top with a splash of club soda.