Q+A: James Venti | bartaco

Q+A: James Venti | bartaco

How long have you been a mixologist/bartender and what led you to this profession?

I started my career as a bartender at bartaco in October 2021 after I moved to Arlington, Virginia and needed to find a source of income to help with the move and living expenses. I initially chose bartaco because of its unique and intriguing signature cocktail menu. I knew if I was going to become a bartender, I wanted to be making the best drinks possible with the freshest ingredients. When I first stepped into bartaco, I noticed the immense amount of fresh fruit surrounding the restaurant. Later, I would come to find out that the fruit I was looking at was the fruit that is used in all of bartaco’s cocktails. This gave me an extra boost of confidence in what I was serving to guests.

What do you love most about your work?

My favorite thing about being a part of the bartaco team is interacting with the amazing guests and team. I have always appreciated social interaction and great restaurant service, so being able to provide both of those things to our guests has been really rewarding for me. I like to put myself in the shoes of a guest when working, so I strive to make them feel the way I would want to feel if I were sitting at the bar. Often in this industry, people show up to work, do what they need to do and then go home. That does not satisfy me. I really like to make sure that each person who sits at my bar leaves with a smile on their face and a story to tell about how great of a time they had. You never know what kind of day a guest is having and sometimes all it takes to change someone’s day from bad to good is a pleasant social interaction.

The team I work with at bartaco also adds so much enjoyment to the job. All of my co-workers at bartaco are amazing. They are some of the hardest workers I know. I feel like we are one big group of friends and it has been such a pleasure working with our amazing team at bartaco Ballston.

What is your biggest challenge in your job?

While every day as a bartender presents its own small challenges, I feel really lucky to have a team that supports one another and helps to ease those challenges. Getting to throw a party at bartaco each and every day makes it all worth it for me.

Do you feel that mixology is a creative field?

Mixology is an extremely creative field and is similar to being a painter, except your ingredients act as the paint and your cup or glass acts as the canvas. Mixing together ingredients to find the perfect combination for a beverage is like mixing paint colors to find the perfect shade for a painting. In mixology, there is a lot of freedom to try different things – you can combine new flavors, add seasonal twists to classic recipes – the possibilities in mixology are endless and the more creative you can get with it, the more impressed guests will be.

What is the signature bartaco margarita and what makes it unique?

The bartaco margarita is the perfect example of how bartaco has mastered the margarita, utilizing high-quality, fresh ingredients to perfect a very simple drink. If you put low-quality ingredients into a shaker, it doesn't matter how many ingredients you add, it will come out of that shaker with a low-quality taste. The key to our bartaco margarita is the freshness of our ingredients. The margarita itself has four simple ingredients: freshly squeezed lime juice, agave, our house-made tequila, and triple sec. Combine all of these ingredients in a shaker, shake over ice, add a salt rim to your glass and boom, you have yourself the best margarita you’ll ever try.

The Ballston bartaco is located at 4238 Wilson Blvd Suite 120, Arlington, VA 22203.

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