Meet Christian Rider!
Christian is part of the Chilled 100 Group in the Minnesota market. He is a fan of craft drinks and weird conversations. Christian likes to tweak ratios and ingredients. He gets his inspiration for cocktails from food.
What inspired you to become a bartender? Tell us about your background.
Starting as a host where your job entails bending over backward for the worst the guest population has to offer, there was nothing more attractive to me about life in a restaurant than the backbone bartenders displayed and how they seemed to get away with telling off those same guests that made life miserable in my position. I think that was a big part of my initial attraction to tending a bar.
After becoming a bartender at a high-volume sports/family bar, I found myself wanting more than pouring captain cokes. I made the move to a craft cocktail bar my friend Paige McInroy was pushing me to join and have never been happier behind the bar.
Where do you tend bar now? What makes it unique? Distinctive drinks, décor, a certain vibe?
Volstead House, Eagan Mn. We’re a whiskey cellar masquerading as a speakeasy on Google maps. Our craft cocktail menu is on par with the best in the state. And it’s hard to talk about our spot without acknowledging the 1000 bottles on the wall. We doubled down on being the cocktail lounge in the south metro. We attract whiskey lovers and cocktail enthusiasts as well as people new to craft drinks and booze in general. More of a night out experience than a party bar.
Who has been most influential in your development as a bartender? A mentor, a parent, a fellow bartender, and why?
Laura Blair, Chris Elvebach, and Tyler Powers were the bartenders that trained me as a barback and taught me what it takes to make it behind the bar. My current mentor is Brian Reiss, one of the best bosses I’ve ever had and with a bar philosophy, I respect and acknowledge. He leads from the front and treats us as competent individuals. If we mess up there’s a conversation and it’s fixed going forward. Very much a bar program that allows us to grow and come into our own in this industry. Even among our sister restaurants, our bar program stands above the others.
Do you have any advice for novice/at-home bartenders?
Read. Books are your friend and best teacher. Always try out those recipes and make friends with your local tenders. They’re valuable resources and founts of knowledge.
What is your favorite ingredient right now and why?
Black garlic. I spent most of December 2020 making some at home and I fell in love with the result.
How do you go about creating a new cocktail? Is there a specific process or simply a moment of inspiration?
Food. Whether it’s an orange creamsicle or the smell of a prime rib. Making a cocktail more often than not starts with the desire to taste something I thought was delicious. Choosing the right medium and template for that idea is what really shapes the rest of the process.
Do you have a special technique you use or a tip for making a particular drink?
Use a spindle mix for your egg drinks and save yourself time and joint pain. And if your daiquiri isn’t funky, throw on a James Brown record and grab some Jamaican pot still.
Where do you see the bartending/cocktail culture headed?
I can’t speak much to high-volume party culture, but I’ve noticed a shift towards more quality/craft drinks regardless of venue. I’m looking forward to getting a craft drink in rural Minnesota sometime soon in the next few years.