Tending bar

Bud Hoelzle hears all kinds of stories while making drinks at Jasmine Asian Bistro. In his 39 years of bartending all over Stark County, Bud Hoelzle has heard a lot, seen a lot and made plenty of friends.

Bud Hoelzle hears all kinds of stories while making drinks at Jasmine Asian Bistro. In his 39 years of bartending all over Stark County, Bud Hoelzle has heard a lot, seen a lot and made plenty of friends.

behind_food2“My thing is, I really enjoy what I do and I think people get that from me. People who get real comfortable with you forget that you’re working and think you’re part of the party,” said Hoelzle, a 1971 St. Thomas Aquinas grad whose first bartending job was at The Boar’s Head in Jackson Township in 1977. He has spent the past five years at Jasmine Asian Bistro in Canton, which has a cozy and popular 10-seat bar.

Q. What cocktails do you enjoy making these days?
A.
“I love the mojitos. I grow some mint (a crucial mojito ingredient) myself, and a neighbor of my daughter’s is another source. I jump out of my car with scissors. I was a little late to the party with the Moscow Mules, but they’re selling like crazy. I do one with muddled blueberries and blueberry vodka. Another drink I make is the White Orchid Martini, which is ginger liqueur (Domaine de Canton), citrus vodka, white cranberry juice and garnished with an orchid.”

Q. Are there any cocktail trends you’ve noticed?
A.
“Dark liquors are making a comeback. Old Fashioneds and Manhattans are very, very big. Also gin. It’s unbelievable the amount of gin martinis I make.”

behind_food1Q. Isn’t the bar here at Jasmine kind of a neighborhood scene?
A.
“It is, and this is my neighborhood, too. People make fast friends here. Total strangers having conversations and finding commonalities. I have a good core of regulars, and I’d say 94 percent of my customers eat at the bar. My boss appreciates me.”

Q. What do you consider a good tip for a drink?
A.
“I’m always okay with 20 percent. When I print out my net sales at the end of the night, I always make 20 percent. The ones who over-tip always compensate for the few that under-tip.”
Q. Do you have off nights when you’re just not feeling your job?
A.
“Before I did this, I was a professional entertainer, and what I learned was: You can’t have a bad night. You have to be ‘on’ all the time. You can’t tell the customers your troubles. You have to put on a game face and listen to theirs.”

Q. Tell me a good bar story. I’m sure you have many.
A.
“This happened at Bogie’s in the Oakwood Square shopping center. A guy was sitting at my bar with his mistress. His wife walked in with her girlfriend in tow. She sat down next to her husband, and they ordered a drink. I held my breath, but no words were exchanged. The wife and her friend finished their drinks and left. As the mistress left for the restroom, he looked at me and nonchalantly said, ‘Oh well, maybe she’ll forget about it.’ ”