Like a good wine, bartenders get better with age. Such is the case with Michael “Ruby” Ruby, of Gondola Pub and Grill and Yampa
Valley Shakers, who’s been bartending in the ‘Boat for over two decades. Originally drawn to Gondola Pub and Grill by its
reputation amongst locals as the perfect spot to après after a day on the slopes, Ruby has been a staple behind the bar for 18 years,
slinging drinks for powderhounds every weekend. With 25 years of total experience pouring libations, Ruby is a master of concocting a
good time and getting drinks in hand. When he’s not at GPG, you can find him pouring drinks with his mobile bar service, Yampa
Valley Shakers, which specializes in bringing the bar to wherever the party’s at. Swillin’ caught up with him to get to know him a little better.
Marital status: Married (14 years, two boys ages 6 and 8)
Swillin’: How long have you been here and why Steamboat?
Ruby: I moved here in November of 2000 from Michigan for the
skiing. I came out to live at the resort for a winter, but once I stayed
for a summer, I knew I was never leaving.
Swillin’: What’s your favorite part of the job?
Ruby: My favorite part is the social aspect. People are in a good
mood and I’m serving a good time. My passion for skiing allows me
to bond with strangers—I get to talk to people about their ski days
and watch the excitement on their faces when they walk in. I’m like,
‘What did I miss? Tell me about the snow!’ I’m also just happy that
people are having a good time. This is my town and I want people
all around the world to have a topnotch opinion of Steamboat. The
fact that I get to be part of that positive experience feels great.
Swillin’: What’s your favorite drink to make?
Ruby: I love an Old Fashioned or a Manhattan. Something that you
can take pride in. I also like when people aren’t sure of what they
want, and I get to create for them.
Swillin’: What are the most important skills for a bartender?
Ruby: I’d say multitasking, being aware of your surroundings, and
paying attention to your guests’ moods. When teaching someone
how to bartend, I tell them that you’re basically hosting a party. If
your party sucks people will leave. You need to be able to joke
around, talk to your guests, introduce them to each other, and find
common ground. A bartender should also know what’s up to date
so that you can talk to people. Know other bars, know Steamboat
history, know about the ski hill, and know other goings-on.
Swillin’: What’s the hardest part?
Ruby: Probably judging a customer’s limit of consumption. It’s a
bartender’s responsibility to serve patrons and then stop them
when they’re incapable of stopping themselves.
Swillin’: Was bartending always the plan?
Ruby: It just suits my personality. I’m a really chatty, social guy and
I wanted to travel and experience different things. In the winter, all I
want to do is ski and work, and bartending lets me do that. It also
gives me midweek opportunities to spend time with my family and
get outside with them without the crowds.
Swillin’: Any favorite sports and activities?
Ruby: Our whole family rides dirt bikes. In the summer, we do lots
of camping, dirt biking, mountain biking, and standup
paddleboarding. And in the winter, obviously skiing.
Check out Ruby’s other endeavors:
Yampa Valley Shakers (www.yampavalleyshakers.com), a mobile
bar service specializing in beer, wine and specialty cocktails; All
Decked Out, an epoxy coating, deck finishing, and painting service.