Behind bars: Meet Blake Parish of The Grotto

The Grotto

517 University Drive, Fort Worth


Hours: 3 p.m.-2 a.m. daily

Posted 6:28pm on Sunday, Jul. 20, 2014

For this installment of our occasional feature on DFW bartenders, we sought out Blake Parish, who not only tends bar at The Grotto in Fort Worth but mans the mike in the rock band the Hanna Barbarians.

Note: All of Parish’s answers should be read with a refined Southern drawl for maximum authenticity. If you can hear it in Jim Morrison’s voice, you’re almost there.

Blake Parish

Age: 29

Are you a bartender or a mixologist?

Bartender. I can mix things, but I specialize in a steady whiskey pour.

What’s your favorite drink to make here?

Man, I know it’s kind of cliché to say but I really like making a Bloody Mary if I have the time. I can make a pretty good Bloody Mary.

If you have the time?

I mean, I’ll still make it, but I’ll grumble about it. I’ll never not make it, and I won’t make it [lousy] — I know some people who will do that to keep someone from coming back for another one.

If you could erase any one drink from the consciousness of the people who come in here, so you never have to make it again, what would it be?

[Expletive] Cosmos. Sex and the City, that’s their fault it became popular. I’ve actually never made one; I don’t know if that would be the one I would choose. The most pain-in-the-ass thing I ever had to make was a Tom Collins. I had to look it up. I’d never made one; it was all fresh-squeezed lemon juice and the girl came back and was like, “That’s the best Tom Collins I’ve ever had.” I was like: “Are you [expletive] kidding me, lady? I just looked this up.” She ordered like five more of them. Tom Collins, that’s my official answer.

So when you say you’re not a mixologist, you aren’t kidding.

I’m more of a dive-bar bartender.

If you could educate your customers about one thing that could make them have a better time in a bar, what would it be?

Be friendly and be patient. Tip well. We’re not as difficult as some bars. I know we kind of have a reputation for being rough around the edges, but we’re not. As long as you’re not [a jerk], you’re not going to have any trouble.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen here?

Weirdest or most dangerous?

Give me one of each.

Weirdest: This band came in, they were touring, I have no idea where they were from. The singer, they were awful. They were not quite punk rock; I’m not sure what the hell they were. The singer tore off all of his clothes, and he’s wearing like a white pair of women’s panties. He was kind of a fat, hairy guy, and he was sweatin’ all over the place. It drove people out, like people went to the back bar and outside on the patio. It frightened people.

So their set finished and we were like, “Can you please put your clothes back on?” They leave and about a half-hour after they were gone, I was sweeping the patio, and I found that underwear they were wearing hanging off the Grotto sign.

Most dangerous: The [2011] shootout in the parking lot was kinda nuts. You could hear two calibers, you could hear the exchange. Anybody that knows anything about guns, you hear pop-pop — that’s like a .38. Then you hear POP POP POP, that was [Cody Admire, owner of The Grotto]’s hand cannon. Nobody got hit, thank God.

Do you have girls hit on you when you’re behind the bar?

All bartenders do. Girls are always like, “Oh, my god, I love your hair!” I appreciate the compliment. The creepy one is when chicks try to touch my hair. I don’t know you; you’re dirty. I’ll occasionally indulge some girl — if she tips real well, I’ll let her touch my hair. I always think that’s weird though. I don’t know how to react to that. I just kind of smile and say thank you, and get away as soon as possible.

What do you do when you’re not slinging drinks and playing rock ’n’ roll?

Give all my money back to the bar. Sometimes I think I oughtta be working for “Grotto Bucks.” It’s not rock ’n’ roll, but I’ve been gardening and listening to NPR. It makes me feel un-rock ’n’ roll listening to NPR and gardening. We got some tomato plants and growin’ some bell peppers and some stuff. Plantin’ some elephant ears in front — I mean, you can’t eat ’em, but they look good. Been riding the bike on the Trinity Trail. It’s not all booze and debauchery. I don’t know if I want to share that with the world.

I think you just did.


If you were stranded on a desert island, what music would you take with you?

The Stones. Without a doubt. My desert-island album of all time would definitely be Beggars Banquet. I think that’s probably my favorite album of all time.

What drink would you take with you?

Bulleit bourbon. Or Bulleit rye. And maybe a little ginger ale, if that could be smuggled aboard as well.

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