NEW YEARS EVE: BARTENDERS HAVE YOUR BACK

110815ryanat the belmonteRyan Matthews, bartender at the Belmonte, has a non-alcoholic cocktail for you. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

morsels mediumSo, what’s the plan for New Years Eve? Will be ringing in 2016 at one or more bars and restaurants on the Greater Red Bank Green?

Your local bartender has some advice on how to stay safe while having an enjoyable celebration. It starts with a plan — and, possibly, a designated driver.
101715tommysTommy’s Tavern + Tap in Sea Bright expects a crowd for New Year’s Eve. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

Ryan Matthews, bartender at the Belmonte on Broad Street in Red Bank, says he enjoys the challenge of creating non-alcoholic cocktails along with the usual fare. For New Year’s Eve, he suggests those who aren’t imbibing strong stuff give a Cucumber Strawberry Smash a try. A refreshing beverage made from muddled cucumbers, fresh strawberries, crushed ice and a touch of agave nectar topped with club soda, it’s an appetizing alternative to soda.

Rob Habel, bar manager at Salt Creek Grille in Rumson, tells us that you can order any drink as a virgin (non-alcoholic) drink, and suggests trying a lime or orangeade.

B2 Bistro on Shrewsbury Avenue in Red Bank offers a full bar, says bartender Dan Ludwig, “but we can make a mock mojito, or a virgin Bay Breeze or Sea Breeze for the designated driver. We make our own ginger beer for a mock Moscow Mule. We build flavor profiles around your taste preferences.”

As for getting patrons home safely, that’s “part of the bartender’s job,” said Tim Selcov, who works the bar at Tommy’s Tavern + Tap in Sea Bright. He said he finds that whether it’s by cab, Uber or a friend, the majority of customers are amenable to the assist.

“We have a sign in our bar that says ‘complimentary cab,’ ” said Salt Creek’s Habel. “We call the cab for you, but it has to be local. We control where you are going next, and give you a safe ride home.”

B2 allows guests to leave their cars in its parking lot overnight, “and they don’t have to worry about being ticketed,” says Michael Manzo, a manager there. Those who do can rely on staff to call them a cab or Uber, he said.

Customer safety “is an issue any day,” said Lynne Perry-Szwede, manager and bartender at Harry’s Lobster House in Sea Bright, who said she always asks patrons about their transportation plans if she sees a potential issue brewing.

“I also let people know the cost of a cab is next to nothing compared with the moral and financial issues that could result in driving drunk,” she said. “I have told people: rather than tip, take a cab. I don’t need the money at the risk of someone dying or ruining their lives.”

SUSAN-ERICSON