By CODY McDEVITT
At Pour on Center in Ebensburg, Eric McClintick oversees an extensive cocktail menu that rivals anything you’d see in Pittsburgh’s swank bars and gastropubs.
“We really push the envelope with the cocktails we do,” McClintick said. “This is a very progressive place, especially for the area. Even before I worked here, I came up here to eat. We have a city vibe in a country atmosphere.”
McClintick, 27, of Dubois, started at Pour on Center about three months ago. Prior to that he worked at the Windber Hotel. He’s been a bartender for about five years since he graduated from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.
His career nearly ended as soon as it started. He started his bartending work at Tulune’s Southside Saloon in Johnstown. He had no experience making cocktails, and the managers expected him to be proficient from the start.
“My first night was a train wreck. I almost got fired my first night,” McClintick said. “They put me in as sink-or-swim. I didn’t know how to make a mixed drink. It was one of the busier nights in a while. I probably made 100 different drinks. I had to keep asking other people. It was a lot of guesswork.”
He’s come a long way since then.
At Pour on Center, there are a number of elaborate cocktails the staff has come up with. In addition to classics like the Old Fashioned and Sazerac, they have the Strawberry Rhubarb Collins and a number of ones with egg whites in it.
Charlie Sheridan, of Carrolltown, is a server at Pour on Center. She holds McClintick in high regard.
“He’s made the best drinks I’ve ever had in my life,” Sheridan said. “He’s a really good manager. He’s really good at putting people at ease and making our customers comfortable. It’s a good place to work, and he’s a large reason for that.”
Nick Periso, his boss, notices how much he connects to his coworkers and customers.
“He’s a very good bartender. He likes to make drinks people like,” Periso said. “He’s always trying new drinks and new things. He has a very good rapport with the customers and the sales reps as well. And he runs a good show.”
The craft cocktail renaissance has filtered down from Pittsburgh to the country areas, McClintick said.
“It’s growing. The craft cocktail scene used to be a niche that people turned their nose up,” McClintick said. “We wanted to offer some really great cocktails and involve some of the better spirits.”