Jordan Lindenberger takes the helm behind the bar at Sage American Bistro
Tessa Berg Photo
At the fresh age of 23, Jordan Lindenberger is the new kid on the 2600 block of North High Street. The newly minted bar manager at Sage American Bistro immediately went to work designing a revamped winter cocktail menu. (Drinks with elements of pear, figs or Petali teas can be traced directly to his personal tastes.)
As his career upgrades, the number of square feet Lindenberger works in downgrades. “[Sage is] the smallest place I’ve ever worked in. I guess I’ve been going smaller and smaller and smaller in my career. From the Blackwell to Granville Inn to Sage, which is a 17-table restaurant with seven [bar] seats,” he says. “Smaller isn’t always easier.”
The lack of space cuts into his ability to keep wine and beer cold, and limits the restaurant’s cellaring capacity. And the tight floor space makes for close working quarters. “It’s pretty much a one-way street, with staff going in two directions, throughout the restaurant,” he says. “We make it work, somehow.”
Lindenberger’s long-term plans for Sage include a wider selection of wines, more affordable prices and more diverse happy-hour specials. “Our goal in the industry is to enlighten people and to bring them things that they normally don’t see. If you can’t do that affordably, then you’re not accomplishing the mission.”
Some wines are worth the price. “I think zinfandel goes well with the pork belly,” he says. “We have a great half-bottle of Seghesio’s Old Vine Zinfandel.” That’s a $40 half-bottle, folks. Savor every drop.
When the shift is over, staff drinks occasionally begin at Ravari Room next door. What does someone who works in the beverage industry drink after a long day? “I know it sounds crazy,” he says, “but I reach for a stout. Something heavy with some body to it. It’s easy. I’ve been making drinks all day, so popping the top of a beer is the best.” That stout is often followed by a guilty pleasure from across the street: late-night Rally’s french fries.
Saturday night drinks are reigned in, due in part to Sage’s popular Sunday brunch. Lindenberger suggests the best time to get a seat is either right when they open at 10 a.m. or in the late afternoon.
“Come in early, or you come in late,” he advises. “It’s just growing and growing and growing. Saturday night, you know you’re waking up Sunday morning and that you’ll be at work. Again. Hauling ass.”