Not only is Tyler Christensen the bar manager at Malee's
Thai Bistro, but he's also a musician, world traveler (where he picks up
ingredients and ideas for drink creations) and public-transit advocate. Oh, and
did we mention he started his own independent record label?
One of Christensen's other passions is meeting new people, so when guests visit the restaurant, he makes sure their experience is as unique as the life he leads.
Did you always think you were going to be a bartender?
Ever since I was a little kid I've always liked entertaining. My big thing is communication. I love communicating with people. I love sitting down and chatting with somebody. To think you can have a job where every night you get to throw a party, and it's not your booze, it's not your house, is great. When I was younger I'd bring first dates here [to Malee's], before I started working here. I always think about that first date table and that first impression.
Bartending is one of my many interests. It's what pays my bills and keeps my lights on, but I do love it. I'll do it in some aspect. I mean, you do it at your house for when friends come over, and I do it here for a paycheck. I don't do something unless it's fun. I never get up in the morning and go, "Ugh, I have to go to work." Usually when I come to work it's a party.
What are some drinks you've created?
A lot of bars you go to have brands like Captain Morgan - we have all those things that people expect, those call items. But I'll find different distillations and different companies that make, for lack of a better word, better products. I want something that's a little bit different, a little bit more flushed out and rounded - not so milled and factory-produced. I prefer Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum. It's a little stronger and has a little more of a vanilla note to it. It makes for a better cocktail. I blend this with Blenheim Ginger Ale, which is an old-school ginger ale that's been made the same way since 1903.
I like to find small-batch products. We're a small company, and we're a small group of people. To me it's more of a personal touch, and when that goes into a glass, it means more than just a "rum and coke."
There's a science and an art form (to creating drinks) that I'm absolutely in love with. When you do that for people it resonates, and they get into it. And for me, that's just so much more fun coming into work every day.
What is your favorite drink to make for yourself?
A Jerry and Ginger. It's the Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum and the Blenheim Ginger Ale. It's a natural ginger ale, and it uses cane sugar. It's an old recipe. There are things that stand the test of time. That's my favorite drink, for sure.
You mentioned you travel a lot. Do you travel for fun or for work?
I would do public-transit tours (Christensen is a singer and guitarist for Quixote
). I did one in the Czech Republic and I hit Sweden for a while, too. The whole idea is you basically go on tour, and you do everything yourself. You carry everything you have to have to play a show. You have to get to all of your gigs and travel around while you're there on public transit.
The tours tie in to something else Christensen strongly believes in: public transportation.
I haven't owned a car in seven or eight years. If you plan your life out right, you can make accommodations and make that happen. I kind of became, on accident, a public-transit advocate, too.
7131 E. Main St., Scottsdale, AZ