Quit Your Day Job

Quit Your Day Job: Crystal Stilts

In this special Thanksgiving installment of Quit Your Day Job, Frankie Rose and I talk a lot about drinks. When not bartending at Great Jones Cafe in New York City the ex-Vivian Girl plays stand-up drums in Crystal Stilts, the Brooklyn band that recently released Alight Of Night, a tight collection of dark minimalist, melancholic pop. Again, think Ian Curtis-on-Spector on down-tempo Chills. It’s one of my 2008 favorites. After our discussion about the Shaggy, Vodka Lemonades, Purple Titties, and strange celebrity sightings take another listen to the harmonica-and-feedback-entwined “Shattered Shine” and detached surf haze of “Crystal Stilts.” Pay attention to her drumming.

STEREOGUM: How long have you worked as a bartender? And how long, specifically, at Great Jones Cafe? Where were you before this?

FRANKIE ROSE: Well. I have been a bartender before in the past but its been awhile. Mostly in restaurants that never required getting a customer more than a pint or a glass of wine. I’ve been at Great Jones for about two months now. Might be the best job I’ve had in New York.

STEREOGUM What do you like so much about it?

FR: I like that everyone that works there has been there for over 10 years. The only reason I got the job was because they started opening during the day, so it’s kind of a luck that I’m even there. I like the the fact that its been there for 25 years. People from my favorite bands of yesteryear come in all the time. Not to mention the food is awesome.

STEREOGUM: Did you go to bartending school?

FR: That’s funny. When i was 16 my mom thought it would be fun to take bartending course together at the local community college. I doubt it ever crossed her mind that I was not even of legal drinking age. To be honest I have no idea how to bartend. If someone asked me to make a Sex On The Beach or a Purple Titty I would
have to consult the bartending book!

STEREOGUM: What is a Purple Titty? Do you happen to have a bartending book with you? I’m curious about that book. Is it updated every
few years, as folks invent new drinks, etc?

FR: Oh man, I might have made that up. I’m fairly sure its a shot though. But I have no clue what’s in it. Maybe I was thinking of a Gorilla Tit — that’s with Kahlua, whiskey and rum I think. We have a bartending guide at work. I think they do get updated every few years as new drinks appear.

STEREOGUM: Do you have a specialty drink?

FR: We do! We have this drink called The Shaggy. It’s basically a Dark and Stormy, but the ginger beer is really spicy and we use a nice Rum.

STEREOGUM: Do you, yourself, have a specialty drink?

FR: Nope. However, at a party the other night I tried to mix Mango juice with whiskey. It didn’t work out so well.

STEREOGUM: Do you measure shots or free pour?

FR: Free pour!

STEREOGUM: Have you spotted any new drink trends? Any strange

FR: Since I work day shifts, I don’t see much of that. I make a whole lot
of Vodka lemonades and Margaritas.

STEREOGUM: What can you recommend as an ideal winter drink?

FR: Hot Toddys are a popular winter drink. They’re great if you’re sick.

STEREOGUM: Favorite “bar band”?

FR: Hmm. We play a whole lot of Bo Diddley and Love. I was surprised to I find my own iPod not so dissimilar to the Great Jones iPod.

STEREOGUM: Do people still “send a drink over to the lady at the end of the bar”?

FR: Not in my limited experience.

STEREOGUM: Are you a talkative bartender? One who helps folks figure out their woes? Or more business-like?

FR: I like to talk to people and I like meeting new people. I have also found there to be a different dynamic between a bartender and customer verses a
waitress. For some reason people seem to want to talk to the bartender. Maybe its just because the bartender is in control of pouring the sauce. We have celebrities in there all the time, apparently. At work the other day, someone was telling me a story about how the guy who plays “Mr. Big” on Sex and the City (can’t stand it, by the way) came in and I guess he was reading an In Touch magazine. Anyway, when he took off, he left the magazine there on the table, with the page open. But what’s funny about it is that he left it open to a giant picture of himself, doing who knows what kind of celebrity type of thing. Ha! So weird, right?

STEREOGUM: What’s the biggest tip you’ve ever received?

FR: I can’t remember. I guess it couldn’t have been that big if I can’t remember.

STEREOGUM: Favorite NYC bars other than Great Jones Cafe?

FR: To be honest I’m not much of a bar hanger outer. I like Daddys because my friends hang out there. I like anywhere a friend may be bartending!

STEREOGUM: Do friends come hang out with you at work? Or does the fact that it’s the day shift kinda preclude that?

FR: They do! And I’m so glad! I’ve made quite a few friends there as well. Seriously — and I don’t think I’ve ever been able to say this — the people that come in are really cool!

STEREOGUM: What, in your opinion, makes a good bar?

FR: Is there a place to sit? How’s the jukebox? Is the lighting nice? Are the drinks cheap?

STEREOGUM: You mentioned to me that you’ve worked “a zillion and a half shitty jobs.” What was the worst?

FR: Oh man. I feel like even a thankless and tedious job can be good if
you are working with cool people. The jobs that have sucked the most are when the boss is a turd. I’ve had too many of those to count. It’s nice when a boss can trust your ability and or respect that you have a brain and don’t need to be reminded what to do all of the time. I once had a boss say to me in all seriousness, “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean.” That was the nail in the coffin of that job.

STEREOGUM: Favorite movie starring a bartender?

FR: Hmmmm … What about movies that take place in bars? Roadhouse with Patrick Swayze was pretty good.

STEREOGUM: If someone were to invent a drink called a Crystal Stilts what would be in it?

FR: A 6 count of whiskey. A two count of black food coloring. Garnish with a cherry.


Crystal Stilts – “Shattered Shine” (MP3)
Crystal Stilts – “Crystal Stilts” (MP3)

Alight Of Night is out via Slumberland. You can hear more at Crystal Stilts’ MySpace.

[Photo by Lauren Bilanko]