Know Your Tender
By Emma Wilson
A good time is all but guaranteed when bartender Jesse Brucato, of Sunpies Bistro, walks in the door. After a decade as a diligent Sunpies patron, Jesse graduated to bartender back in the spring of 2018, and has been slinging drinks for raucous crowds and rowdy bachelor and bachelorette parties ever since. Likely still suited up from his work commute via kayak in the summer, Jesse is a master party host, doling out Hurricanes and gummy beer shots with gusto and ease. When he’s not behind the bar, you can find him on the river or bopping around the mountain. Swillin’ caught up with him to get to know him better.
Swillin’ & Chillin’: Where are you from originally?
I’m from Salem, New Hampshire. I’m an East Coast guy (go Pats) and I’ve been in Steamboat for 11 years.
What made you choose Steamboat?
I came out to snowboard. I had some buddies at the college here and they had housing and invited me out, and that was it. I heard they had a mountain right in town and I figured I might as well destroy my knees while I’m young. I changed my oil in the driveway and 32 hours later, here I was.
What’s your bartending background?
I’ve been all over town, man. I started my serving career at Old Town Pub, then went to Paramount and then Steamboat Smokehouse. All those spots definitely prepared me for the chaos of Sunpies. By that point I’d seen half the things they deal with there.
What’s your favorite part of the job?
Interacting with so many people. I like to host a party and I enjoy showing people a good time. I give the people what they want—half the nights you’ll find me on the bar singing Shania Twain.
What’s the secret to being a good bartender?
Not to take it too seriously. You’re at a dive bar in a ski town, have a good time.
What’s your drink of choice?
Coldest beer in the fridge. I’m not picky.
Favorite drink to make?
If you’re coming to Sunpies and not drinking a Hurricane, you’re doing it wrong.
Most important skills for a bartender?
Communication. For sure. You have to have a handful of things in the arsenal to figure out what people are looking for and then be able to read them to give them what they want.
What’s the hardest part?
I hate it when it’s slow. Idle hands aren’t great. You never wanna’ be that guy leaning against the bar polishing a wine glass. I’d rather have a hundred people screaming at me across the bar.
Was bartending always the plan?
There was no plan—I never wanted to overwork myself to the point where I’d hate what I’m doing. The service industry allowed freedom to bop around and do what I want. Everyone at Sunpies has each other’s backs and we can lean on each other. Bartending pays the bills and makes me happy.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
I’m a river rat—I love kayaking and rafting. I also just picked up a mountain bike this summer (the number one way kayakers injure themselves). I’m a snowboarder and love to take the pup out on hikes. I also spend lots of time in the Southwest canyoneering.
Anything else we should know about you?
Let’s see…put a couple beers in me and see what happens. Oh, and Sunpies is the best bar on the planet.