by Danny R. Phillips
Bethanie Bray is St. Joseph’s finest bartender; I say this as a statement of fact, not mere speculation or as a sign of favoritism. From her station behind the bar at The Rendezvous (619 Felix) she slings drinks with a wry smile and more often than not, a heavy dose of sarcasm. Bray’s skills in the art of mixology stand as tall as she does in structure, unrivaled within the confines of our fair city by the river.
For the better part of six years, Bray has been a fixture of downtown, holding down the fort at “The Vous,” shooting the breeze with regulars and new comers alike, while gliding effortlessly from the beer coolers to pouring shots without missing a beat. She creates drinks as if it were second nature, flowing from somewhere within her very being, her skills coming from down deep, a place of involuntary grace, perhaps even a link to her very DNA. “My grandma ran a bar in Texas when I was a kid, I grew up around bars.”
An avid collector of bar related items and memorabilia, ranging from decanters to signage, Bethanie speaks excitedly about her hobby and her job at The Rendezvous. “I collect all kinds of things, I’m not a hoarder though, there are just certain things I love” As for her job at the Rendezvous, she has warm things to say about how she spends her weekends, “I love my job, not a lot of people can say that. I love being a bartender, I really do. Working for Jimmy (Green) is great. He treats everybody well, the tips are good, I get to hear some good music and get a chance to talk to some great people.”
While Bray loves her work, she is clearly more than a bartender, she is also a gifted artist; her approach to perfection in her paintings is not unlike her search for the unique she employs behind the bar; her brush strokes and choice of color and medium is meticulous; whether painting a beautiful purple and black raven, the delicate silhouette of what appears to be an elegant woman from the turn of the century with a ship balanced gracefully upon her delicate, beautiful head, to the majestic gaze of the American Bald Eagle, Bray’s attention to detail and her natural ability as an artist and painter is undeniable and deserves to be recognized as such.
Weekends in the summer are busy and thirsty work. When the urge for a nice cold beer, shot or whatever your weapon of choice strikes, visit Bethanie Bray at the Rendezvous for some intelligent conversation, a good drink and a place to forget the trials of the day or the pressures of a less than perfect week. Bethanie can hook you up, as a matter of fact, make it a double.
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