We asked five questions of Ruth Grant, a bartender at MJ’s Restaurant and Catering. Here’s what she had to say.
Tell us a little about your background.
I’ve been bartending almost 30 years. I moved here two years ago from Baltimore where I lived for 28 years. I’m originally from Pennsylvania. I cut my teeth on bartending at TGI Fridays. I was there for six years. It was the last corporate job I had. I went to bars, restaurants and night clubs — a lot of diversity.
When I was in Baltimore, I bartended at Peter’s Inn, 1157, Salt Tavern. Those are like higher-end restaurants. I’ve been working here (MJ’s) for a year. I came to Greensboro for a change of scenery, to be close to the mountains and the ocean, and (for) the weather. I like to walk to through the woods, and there are a lot of trails in Greensboro.
I hear you are an artist.
I studied classical realism, and I’m switching into more abstract now. I’ve been painting for 30 years, at least.
I’ve shown in Baltimore. I’ve done commission pieces and things like that. I’m trying to get a body of work together to see if I can get a show here.
What do people order most at MJ’s? What are some of your signature drinks?
Bourbons, particularly Scotch bourbons, and martinis, whether they’re gin or vodka, seem to go over really well.
Our most requested drink is the Harvey, which is a Hendrick’s gin and Grey Goose vodka martini with blue cheese olives. Manhattans are another big thing. I like making Manhattans, and I like drinking Manhattans. We do a chocolate martini.
We do a signature Chai Old Fashioned that goes over really well this time of year. It’s really good. We make a chai simple syrup and muddle orange and cherry with that. It’s nice. We make a signature basil and rye martini, which is on the rocks. I really like it. We grow our own basil and mint during the summer for mint juleps and mojitos. We make a signature Ginger Cosmopolitan. I like that one. It’s fun to make. It tastes good.
What are some of your favorite menu dishes and what would you pair with them?
I love the scallops. I would have wine with that, but we have a sparkling martini that would go really nice with them as well, if you wanted to have a cocktail. The filet medallions, even the shrimp and grits would go really well with the basil and rye or Chai Old Fashioned.
Do you ever get asked to make cocktails at parties, and what do you keep in your home?
Yes, I do. They say, “Make me something good and sweet.” It’s actually fun for me, especially when it’s friends and family. You get to be creative and use what’s available. It’s like cooking. It’s cooking with alcohol. I mainly keep bourbons and a little Antica vermouth. I keep some bitters — and vodka, as a base for any kind of drink you can make.