Mixologist: Ryan Thornton of Vonn Blues Lounge

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Neighborhood: Dublin

Hometown: Front Royal, Virginia

Years behind the bar: Five

What makes a good bartender?

I can make over 12,000 different drinks. Anything that you'd like, I can make. And if not, I will design something around your tastes that you will enjoy.

How did you learn to make 12,000 drinks?

I got ahold of every book I could possibly get my hands on and read everything I could get - from mixology to Scotches, vodkas, whiskeys and craft beers to management, the business side of the bar.

I've definitely decided that I'm a career bartender. I've checked into trying to become a master mixologist in New Orleans or Amsterdam. That's where I want to be in the next few years.

It's the same kind of path a sommelier would follow. It's the same style, but with everything, all the spirits.

Where do you like to go when you're not at work?

Home. I like spending time with my girlfriend and my dog. Usually the last place you want to go when you work for 80 hours a week at a bar, or actually two bars [Vonn Blues and Vonn Jazz Lounge's new location], is another bar.

What do you like about bartending?

I always tell my bar staff that every time you step behind the bar you're hosting a party. All these people are your guests. There are 200 other bars they could go to. They don't have to be here, so you get the opportunity to make them choose your bar.

It's a good feeling when people want to enjoy your company, your drinks and pick your brain.

What do you dislike about bartending?

One of the most annoying things I get is if someone walks up to the bar and I ask, "How are you doing?" and they immediately order a drink. That's not the question I asked you. I asked how are you doing and they fire back, "vodka and cranberry." It's like they're not paying attention.

Got any good stories from behind the bar?

I've served Ron Livingston from Office Space. He's a whiskey drinker. I served Bruce Campbell from Army of Darkness. He likes Tanqueray and tonic.