Welcome to Girl Walks into a Bar, a weekly Gut Check feature that spotlights local bars and bartenders. This week Katie Moulton profiles Lumière Place Casino's Devin Knau. Below is a Q&A with Knau followed by the recipe for Devin's VIP Special.
According to Lumière Place Casino's glossy website, the staff of Globar are "strikingly engaging Ladies and Gents of Lumière, more than mere bartenders, they are hosts for an evening of refinement and inimitable style."
Devin Knau, one such "Gent of Lumière," describes himself a bit differently. "I'm not a typical bartender in that I'm not naturally super outgoing," he says. "But I'm sarcastic, and certain people respond to that."
Knau has manned the bar in various locations within Lumière Place (999 North Second Street; 314-881-7777) for nine months, but has worked in the industry and the neighborhood for six years. He got his start working the door, then as a "shot guy," moving up as a go-getter bar-back at Big Bang piano bar (807 North Second Street; 314-241-2264) on Laclede's Landing.
"I was fascinated with the creativity of drink-making," Knau says. "I would tell the bartender to take long smoke breaks, and I would take over making drinks. I learned everything on the job."
Skills gained on the fly have landed Knau dividing his time among Globar, Aqua and the VIP area. It was there, in the VIP bar, where he occasionally receives tips in chips, that he invented the featured cocktail, a nameless and deadly concoction of Pearl plum vodka and St-Germain elderflower liqueur. The result is fruity-but-not-sweet, and if Girl Walks Into a Bar had any money, our chip-flipping fingers would be loosened.
So if a high-rolling guest happens to be losing, how does Knau cheer him up? "Just my sparkling personality," he says. "Plus the drinks are free."
Note: Girl Walks Into a Bar met with Knau -- and one of the casino's PR associates -- in Cascade in Hotel Lumière. Knau doesn't usually work in Cascade, but there was far less red tape to meet in a building separate from the gambling. Cheers, gaming commission!
Describe your bartending style in a few words. Out of the box
My bar is the only bar in St. Louis where... You can gamble.
Girl walks into a bar, orders a ____. She just earned my undying admiration. Something hard like Crown (Royal Whisky), or a lemon drop martini -- I'm a big martini person. I like it when someone says, "Surprise me with whatever you want."
Most dumbass -- or strange -- drink anyone has ever asked for. Strawberry daiquiri. I think every bartender hates making a frozen drink like that. It's boring; an easy way out.
Other than your own bar, where do you go to get a good drink? And what do you have? Big Bang has some of the best bartenders, and I learned a lot from everyone I worked with there. I'll tell St. Nick to surprise me with a drink and a shot. Also PJ at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse makes great martinis.
If my friends and I simply must have a round of shots, what should they be? Grateful Dead: vodka, rum, gin, triple sec, Chambord, sour mix.
What's the most exciting or memorable event you've witnessed while tending bar? I worked here in Cascade for the first time last New Year's Eve and saw Neko Case's performance in front of the waterfall.
Tell me one thing most people don't know about bartending. Bartending involves a lot of multitasking, but one of the most important parts of our job is to entertain the guests. They come here to have fun, so I want to make sure I'm creating the best environment possible.
Devin's VIP Special 1 1/2 oz. Pearl plum vodka 1/2 oz. St-Germain elderflower liqueur 1 tsp. berry pomegranate concentrate Splash of sour mix/Sprite Twist of orange
Shake and strain into chilled martini glass. Run twist of orange around the rim and drop in.