Bartenders & Baristas: Crista MacKenzie at Chez Nous
By Wynter Holden
Bartender Crista MacKenzie of Chez Nous in Phoenix is every man's dream girl -- a lot of sugar, with just a touch of spice. She doesn't drink much, loves her native Arizona and is devoted to her four-month-old son. Aww...how sweet. If not for the blue-tinged platinum locks and swirling tattoos spanning her right side, Crista could easily be mistaken for the perky young soccer mom in the cubicle next to yours. That is, until you get her talking.
Chow Bella: When did you start bartending?
Crista MacKenzie: I was doing hair back in 2003 and I was struggling for money, so I got a job at Chez Nous. Six months later, they started training me to bartend. Hair styling and bartending, they're both the same type of job. You deal with all kinds of people.
CB: Why do you like bartending?
CM: A lot of people would say the money. It is cool leaving with cash every day, but for me it's more about meeting people. My fiancé Robert is a stay-at-home dad and I give him a lot of credit for it. I feel like I'd go insane if I stayed at home and couldn't go out and meet people.
CB: Any cool jobs before you became a bartender?
CM: I managed a sub shop for 5 years and that was really cool. I got to throw food at people on that job. I actually did all 3 [hairdressing, bartending and working at the sub place] up until January when I was 6 months pregnant.
CB: What drink do you absolutely love making?
CM: The "Ocean Water." We made it up a few years ago when I was first bartending and learning all of my drinks.
CB: How do you make it?
CM: Wait. Is this going to be published? Well, as long as it has my name on it, I'll tell you.
Crista MacKenzie's Ocean Water has Malibu rum, blue curacao and peach Schnapps, with a splash of 7-Up and pineapple juice. It's bright blue, like the ocean you want to be on the beach drinking Coronas by!
CB: So what kind of weird stuff have you seen on the job?
CM: I've been really lucky working at Chez Nous. We don't get a lot of crazy people in here.
CB: There must be something. What about nudity?
CM: Well, my fiancé’s going to kill me for telling you this, but I did chocolate pudding wrestling during Super Bowl halftime one year. Not at Chez Nous, but when I was working at a Famous Sam's. It was me and one other girl who worked there. We wanted to find something that would draw a bunch of people there, so we suggested pudding wrestling.
Everyone at the bar was totally down for doing it, but the day of the Super Bowl, no one wanted to anymore. It was our butts on the line, since we told everyone we were going to do this. So me and this other girl did. I drank a LOT of alcohol before I did it. It was really fun! They had this cheap plastic pool like you give your dog in the backyard. And they didn't mix it right, so it was more like chocolate milk than pudding. Later, we were on the asphalt in the back of the bar, and we were bleeding. She accidentally lost some clothes and that was the end of it. I won.