Know your bartender: Dustin Drankiewicz at Moneygun

Dustin Drankiewicz of Moneygun talks Miller High Life tattoos, simple cocktails and an ideal feel for a bar

Photograph: Jaclyn RivasDustin Drankiewicz of Moneygun

When his band didn't work out, bartending became a great way for Dustin Drankiewicz, the beverage director at Moneygun, to make a little cash. But eventually, he gave into it full time, working primarily with classic cocktails and blending up a long list at West Town's new bar, Moneygun. We caught up with Dustin to find out what he thinks makes a bar great, plus his favorite cocktails to make.

How did you get into bartending? I was in bands and bartending was a good way to make some dough on the side. I started doing a more professional take on bars, learning the management and operation sides of service. Music didn’t work out. I started as a dishwasher, then as a barback. Typical "quote-unquote" industry dude.  

How did you get involved with Moneygun? I started out bartending at Punch House and Dusek’s, and then they offered me a job opening up the Promontory. Instituting more structure and bar direction, training bartenders correctly, implementing a bar program—they noticed.

How do you come up with your cocktail recipes? I stick to the classics. If there’s any twist or modern approach to the cocktails, it would simply be a part that already exists within the cocktail. I’ve never really found much happiness in creating these nine-ingredient cocktails....I just focus on bar mechanics and cocktails done right, not so much a menu that boasts seasonality and this and that. Let’s just fill up the bar and make drinks that work best.

What are some of your favorite ingredients to work with? When it comes to serving, I like making sours. It should be sweet, tart and kind of snapping....And blenders! Everyone knows I have a blender at every bar I’ve worked at. The idea of drinking a blended drink whenever you want, that’s the best shit. You can’t drink that angry. If you’re angry and drinking a blended drink, it’s time to go home.

What do you serve for drinks at Moneygun? We do the essentials—not necessarily the essentials of a top 30 list, just a list of the classics we think are essential to us. My main focus is balance—sticking to the main ingredients in classic cocktails.

What’s the most important skill a bartender should have? If you have passion and will and want, let’s rock and roll. That’s what I’m passionate about, making friends and turning people’s days around. 

Are there any spirits you gravitate toward when you order a cocktail? No, I don’t drink too much, if I do I like wine. I like South African Wine—I like funky stuff. I like beer, I have a lot of High Life tattoos that just keep happening—I’m not sure, it’s weird. I don’t seek out cocktail bars or craft cocktails. I seek out the playlist, the music, the comfort and I’m sure whatever they put out in the bar is going to be cool. I’m not hard to please.

Where do you head on your night off? Au Cheval, a burger, some hash, an Arcadia Sky High Rye beer, some good music—I’m pretty content with that. As far as bars go, I like to go to Revel Room and Bar DeVille. Seeing my friends at Lost Lake, that’s always a good time. I like Analogue on Sundays, get a chicken sandwich and dirty rice.

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