Ryan Nishijima at Cave & Ives

Categories: Behind the Bar
Nishijina.JPG
Zach Fowle

The tender: Ryan Nishijima
The bar: Cave & Ives (4247 E. Indian School Road, 602-955-1924) 
The pedigree: Like many others, Nishijina started bartending when he went to college, working at a local T.G.I.Friday's. After he graduated, Nishijina took his skills international, tending bar on cruises to the Mediterranean, Hawaii and the Caribbean. He's been at Cave & Ives since it opened in April.

What's different about working here as opposed to other places you've tended bar?
Definitely the neighborhood is very different. Arcadia is unlike anywhere else I've ever worked before. It's like a small town inside a bigger city. Everybody knows everybody around here; it's got a real neighborhood feel to it.

This place is beer and wine only -- do you miss the creativity working with liquor allows?
I miss it, but I can live without it. Here we have the beer cocktails, which were designed by the owners, but it's pretty basic -- just mixing fresh purees with beer. You have to follow some of the same rules as with cocktails -- measuring out ounces, things like that -- but some of the procedures are different. As opposed to shaking a drink, it's basically pouring a beer into fresh fruit.

What was the best part of working on the cruise ships?
Meeting different people from different places. You meet a whole new group of 3,000 people every week, and some you even keep in touch with.

Do you miss travelling at all?
Oh yeah. I love travelling, and I miss it a lot. Working for the cruise lines is a lot a fun, but it's a lot of work. You work a six-month contract with no days off, like 100 hours a week. It gets time-consuming after a while. But I just really wanted to travel and see the world.

As a bartender, what do you drink?
I'm a wine person, but I'll drink anything. Good beer, now -- I've learned a lot about beer since I started working here. I thought I knew a lot about beer, but now I really do.

Does being a bartender make you a snob when it comes to what you drink?
I don't think so. I think it makes me more open-minded. There used to be things I would never drink; now I'll try anything.

What's been your most memorable experience as a bartender?
I once saw a couple get engaged at the bar. They had been going out for like 30 years. It was kind of weird, but it was one of the most amazing things I've seen.

The owner says you're competing in a flairtending competition for charity next month. Tell me about that. 
I got into flairtending through Friday's and then entered a few contests in Scottsdale and Vegas. This was years ago, though. I never won anything major, but I took second or third a couple times. It takes a lot of practicing, and I didn't have time for it.

How does a person learn to flairtend?
Just get bottles and start throwing them around. There are videos you can watch, and you can learn a lot by just watching the guys in Vegas. But there are a lot of broken bottles and cut fingers involved. 

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2 comments
David M. Johnson
David M. Johnson

I think Ryan is a pretty chill bartender with a cool personality. The bar is a fun place to hang out with a nice view of Camelback.

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