A Spirit of Adventure
Remember those career aptitude tests where you enter what you like to do and you’re matched to the job that is just right for you? Qres Ephraim might not have taken one, but if she had, her responses would have suggested her current occupation: Bartender Extraordinaire.
“I love to drink and I love to talk to people,” she said with a hearty laugh.
Serving up drinks was not in Ephraim’s plans originally. When the communications group she worked for in Washington, D.C. folded, she did not panic. “It was no big deal. I traveled a little and figured I would find another job in my field.” But when nothing turned up, and she needed money, Ephraim headed into unknown territory, working in a restaurant on Capitol Hill as a hostess. It was a love of food and drink that moved her forward.
“At one of the places I worked, I started messing around with cocktails, and it was fun. I realized how nice it was to be around people who were enthusiastic about food and drinks. But the amount of work and effort that goes into the prep work is mind-boggling,” said Ephraim, now with a greater appreciation for what goes onto plates and into glasses in the restaurant world.
Ephraim considered moving to Atlanta and then landed in Jacksonville to be close to family, though she had her apprehensions about living in the South. “I grew up in Southern California, where everything was fresh and healthy. I was nervous about moving here because of the impression I had of the food culture—I was afraid I would develop hypertension or diabetes because of all the fried food.”
As she started exploring the area, Ephraim was pleasantly surprised to find restaurants aligned with her own background and philosophy, including Moxie. “I love the seasonality of the menu here—using fresh juices in drinks make such a difference,” said Ephraim. “We can tailor the cocktails based on what is available locally.”
When asked about her experience as a newcomer in a male-dominated field, Ephraim praised the support she has received, especially from her boss, Johnny Schaefer. “There’s a collaborative spirit in the bartending industry in general, and especially among the other female bartenders. Even though there are not many who are in charge,” she said. “That is slowly changing.”
Always up for an adventure, Ephraim is determined to broaden her cocktail expertise and enrich her life experiences. “I am learning so many things, and I did not expect this to happen,” she said. “I don’t have to re-invent the wheel. When I have a conversation with a customer and find out what they like, I get excited when I can introduce them to new flavors in drinks, to branch out a little.” Likewise, we’re glad Qres’s adventurous spirit landed her in Northeast Florida.