Name: Jane T.
Position: Head Bartender
Hotel: The St. Regis Washington, DC
Dream destination: Next on my list are Singapore and Japan to continue my culinary journey of exploring Asian cuisines — I love to incorporate a little of bit of my Asian inspired flare into what I’ll be presenting to my guests.
Drink or treat of choice: [Editor’s note: The head bartender’s drink of choice deserves its own section — see full answer below.]
Just off the lobby of The St. Regis Washington, DC sits the hotel’s ornately decorated bar, complete with red and gold velvet chairs, gilded fixtures, and a modern fireplace that all works in concert to create a swanky, ambient respite for tourists and DC residents alike. Since it’s mere steps from the White House, the luxury hotel hosts its fair share of famous faces — and as such, Head Bartender Jane has likely served them a cocktail.
“I’ve had opportunities to serve presidents like Barack Obama and celebrities like Oprah Winfrey,” says Jane, who’s been creating cocktails and providing bespoke service at the DC landmark bar (and winning awards for it, as detailed below) for the past 15 years. “However, it’s the everyday, local folks that I truly enjoy meeting and serving — putting them first and foremost gives value to my work.”
Jane’s Marriott journey started outside the DC beltway in 2005, as a bartender for the then-new Bethesda North Marriott. While there, Jane attended culinary school at L’Academie de Cuisine and earned her degree. She then moved to her current hotel as a cocktail server, then shortly after was promoted to bartender and eventually into head bartender.
“Marriott has taught me that if you can dream it, then it can happen — if you are willing to put hard work and passion into what you do,” says Jane, adding that supportive leadership from top chefs and great hotel management were also pivotal to her success.
Jane’s passion for food and service originated with her family — well, one family member, specifically.
“My Grandmother was my one and only greatest inspiration in culinary cuisines,” says Jane, adding that at age 10 she would watch her grandmother as she meticulously prepared the family meals — a responsibility Jane took over when she was 13. “I would never want to disappoint her, so delivering a fantastic meal makes my heart full. Entertaining and satisfying family and guests at our house was always a priority. Therefore, this led to my passion for giving above and beyond in the hospitality industry.”
Below, Jane details her own experience as a head bartender at Marriott — and even divulges her favorite cocktail.
How would you describe your experience as a Marriott associate?
My experience as a Marriott associate has been a dream come true for me. I’ve learned so much by working with the top professionals in the hotel industry. They have brought out the very best in me from management to staff in which they have become my family members and not just associates. We have shared many meals, we have laughed and cried and through it all, it’s been 15 years and I would walk into work, each and every day, knowing that I have peace of mind and I look forward to many more years with Marriott.
What inspires you, and when are you able to be your most creative self?
I get excited when a local, seasonal ingredient pops up that I have not learned about — I love learning new techniques in culinary and mixology. I’m not one for current trends, but I care for a customer’s eager thirst for something new and exciting. Catering to an audience who travels the world, I must open my opportunities to be my most creative self.
Marriott got its start as a root beer stand — in that spirit, what’s your drink or treat of choice?
Something with an Asian flare to showcase my humble heritage beginnings, and ingredients would include East meets West, like using Rum with Yuzu or Bourbon with Chai Tea.
My favorite drink is a classic Gin Fizz, but with a surprise ingredient — taking something from a classic and making it new. I love to do this for my guests at the bar to elevate and make their palate dance with unique flavors. Gin is perfume in a glass that can be used in savory and sweet cocktails, and combined with the classic egg white method creates a silky, velvety finish for the cocktail to entice the guest’s experience.
What was your Marriott interview process like, and any tips for candidates who want a role like yours?
Marriott’s interview was intense and straightforward. There were three steps: with the HR, Department Manager, and the GM of the property.
I highly encourage potential candidates to speak from their hearts, with honest feedback. Also, learn to listen and to be humble with their answers. To be a bartender means to have compassion not only for the position, but also for those you serve and for those you work with as well. To be able to stay curious and study the craft on their own time will get them far. Finding passion in each new day will make work more enjoyable and teach others what you know so that the journey won’t be lost or forgotten.
What is the proudest moment of your career so far?
When I was picked as the Mid-Atlantic Regional Beverage winner of Marriott’s Master of the Craft competition. As well as being picked by Marriott’s People’s Choice Beverage award.
What is your favorite part of the job?
Having the opportunity to meet with a diverse audience while showcasing my love of mixology and individualizing to each person’s personal preference. It’s not like a cubical 9-5 job, but more like a wild card factor each and every day, which makes this role so rewarding. Learning and growing with all the different circumstances has made me a far better person.
How have you used the Marriott Explore Rate?
With the Marriott Explore Rate I was able to fulfill my dream of traveling to Thailand. My adventures led me from the big city of Bangkok to the rice fields of Udon Thani. The duration of my stay there was about two months, and I was able to experience Marriott’s various hotel brands during my trip. I was able to savor the best local cuisines and visit the luxurious St. Regis Hotel in Bangkok. It was the trip of a lifetime, and thanks to Marriott’s Explore Rate, I was able to make this dream come true.