Spirt of Philadelphia First Friday 2017 Leaderboard

Behind the Bar: Jeff Jagger of Townsend

by Drink Philly on Sep 11, 2017 in Culture

For this installment of Behind the Bar, we checked in with Jeff Jagger from Townsend, who's been at Tod Wentz's East Passyunk stalwart since its opening. Jagger, whose father was in the Department of Defense while he was growing up, describes himself as "not really from anywhere," living a nomadic lifestyle that ended up bringing him from Savannah, Georgia to Philadelphia. We asked Jagger about his previous bartending gigs, all the places he's lived, and the bar trick that patrons fall for every time.

Drink Philly (DP): Tell me a little bit about the place.
Jeff Jagger (JJ): Everything that we do on the bar side is because of Townsend the restaurant. The food is the main attraction, and we are unabashedly French - Chef loves classic French cuisine, so from the wines and cocktails are curated by the food.

DP: Have you bartended elsewhere?
JJ: Finn McCool’s in Ambler, and I’ve been with the staff since McCrossen’s for a long time.

DP: What’s trendy right now?
JJ: There are so many great modifiers in cocktails you begin to see in the fall. Amaro is definitely perfect for mixing in cocktails. At Townsend, we make an allspice tincture that's great to use in old fashioned and Manhattan variations. We also make a fresh apple syrup using three different apples that adds a delicious component to cocktails.

DP: What are some trends you wish would die?
JJ: I’m not a giant fan of smoking things - scotch and mezcal are fine, but I don’t love burning herbs and such. I think it often creates a stronger profile than a cocktail can withstand.

DP: Any predictions about where the industry might go next?
JJ: I think that you’re seeing it now! I think you’re seeing it at Friday Saturday Sunday, Double Knot, ITV, and so on. The food and the cocktails obviously need to be harmonious, but I think guests need to be challenged by what they’re eating and drinking. I think this trend would best be called totality - it’s awesome for guests to be able to try anything and be introduced to a new experience.

DP: One unexpected fact about you?
JJ: I lived in Hawaii for a few years — specifically in Oahu, in Honolulu in Salt Lake.

DP: Favorite beer?
JJ: Really depends on the season. Right now, I love low-alcohol, funky sours.
 
DP: Favorite liquor?
JJ: Rum. All the rum.
 
DP: Favorite cocktail?
JJ: A classic daiquiri. It’s an amazing cocktail with a great history.

DP: What’s your favorite kind of customer?
JJ: All of them. They’re all different, and every guest is a different experience. Those of us industry do love to take care of others industry - let them relax and see them on the other side of the bar, so when we see industry and non-industry alike enjoying the experience equally, that’s amazing for us.

DP: Favorite joke?
JJ: I’m no good at telling jokes! I do a trick called the “bar crab,” and guests love it. You’ll have to come see me to see it for yourself.
 
DP: What do you think the essentials are for a good home bar?
JJ: Definitely gin, because it’s in so many classics. At first, I would start with a base of the major subjects - gin, rum, and so on, and then start stretching your palate to bourbons and so forth. Then you want to start getting into Campari, vermouths, and so on. For the at-home bartender, start slow. This gets addictive, and very expensive! I would say Beefeater, dry vermouth (I prefer Dolin), Campari, sweet vermouth (Carpano), a good bourbon like Old Grandad Bonded, some bitters (orange and aromatic) — those few bottles can build several classic cocktails to start you off.

DP: Where do you go for a drink when you’re not working?
JJ: It depends on what I’m looking for. Sometimes I just want instant gratification and go to Good Dog for a beer and a shot. If I want wine, ITV has a great selection. For cocktails, I love checking in on Mission’s staff, but I also love seeing Paul MacDonald, Catherine Manning, Zach Kessler, and more.

DP: What’s the secret to being a great bartender?
JJ: The guest. If you’re good at your job, you know! If the guest is happy and enjoying their experience and thinks we’re doing a good job, that’s how you know.
 
DP: If you could have a drink with any person alive or dead, who would it be and what would you drink?
JJ: Don Beach from Beachcomber’s, which essentially started the tiki craze in 1934. He created the Zombie and was incredibly protective of the recipe. I would definitely drink a zombie with Don Beach.
 
Top photo via Drink Philly; subsequent photos via Punch Media

Tags: Behind the Bar
Recent Articles
spacer

Feedback

How are we doing? Tell us what you like or don't like and how we can improve. We would love to hear your thoughts!

*Name:
*E-mail:
*Suggestions:
 
Drake's Dad Makes Fun of Him in New Ad for Virginia Black Whiskey

Drake's Dad Makes Fun of Him in New Ad for Virginia Black Whiskey

Dennis Graham, an R&B singer, very suave gentleman, and Drake's dad, stars in a new ad with his son to promote his new brand of whiskey, Virginia Blac...read more ›

by Jessie Donofrio Nov 21, 2017
Beer Stores and Boutiques in Philadelphia Open on Thanksgiving Day

Beer Stores and Boutiques in Philadelphia Open on Thanksgiving Day

Here's where to go for your last minute beer needs. ...read more ›

by Drink Philly Nov 21, 2017
Where to Host a Private Event in Philadelphia

Where to Host a Private Event in Philadelphia

Whether it's for the holidays or you have a special birthday coming up, Philadelphia has some amazing options when it comes to event spaces. ...read more ›

by Drink Philly Nov 6, 2017
SPONSORED
Skygarten Rectangle Ad
Art in the Age Has Reopened in Old City with a Bottle Shop and Tasting Room

Art in the Age Has Reopened in Old City with a Bottle Shop and Tasting Room

Art in the Age, which has been on North 3rd St. in Old City for more than a decade, has reopened after a massi...read more ›

by Drink Philly Nov 20, 2017
Philly's Best Happy Hours: Butcher Bar's Late Night 'Hoppy Meal' $10 Burger & Beer Combo

Philly's Best Happy Hours: Butcher Bar's Late Night 'Hoppy Meal' $10 Burger & Beer Combo

This time, we're shining the spotlight on Butcher Bar, which, in addition to a regular happy hour, features a ...read more ›

by Drink Philly Nov 20, 2017
Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest Opens for the Season, November 24

Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest Opens for the Season, November 24

The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation has announced the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest will open for its 24th season on Friday, November 24 at 1 ...read more ›

by Jessie Donofrio Nov 20, 2017
Bars Open on Thanksgiving 2017 in Philadelphia

Bars Open on Thanksgiving 2017 in Philadelphia

While the liquor stores may be closed, many bars in Philadelphia are kind enough to open their doors to all of us in need of some relaxation. ...read more ›

by Jessie Donofrio Nov 15, 2017
Yards' New Brewery on Spring Garden is Now Open

Yards' New Brewery on Spring Garden is Now Open

Yards Brewing Co. has a brand new space at 5th & Spring Garden with a new taproom, an excellent local chef, and more, and is now open....read more ›

by Drink Philly Nov 15, 2017
Get in Formation: A Beyonce-Themed Bar is Coming to Brooklyn

Get in Formation: A Beyonce-Themed Bar is Coming to Brooklyn

Starting on December 1, Brooklyn bar Leyenda will transform itself into a real-life Beyhive for the holidays in honor of Beyonce....read more ›

by The Drink Nation Nov 14, 2017
Deck Your Halls With These Whiskey-Filled Ornaments

Deck Your Halls With These Whiskey-Filled Ornaments

Forget the tinsel and string lights - the UK's Lakes Distillery has released a line of booze-filled ornaments just in time to make your holiday season...read more ›

by Jessie Donofrio Nov 14, 2017
SPONSORED
View all Articles

Sign up to get weekly drinking news, bar reviews, events and more sent directly to your inbox!

Close