ATLANTIC CITY — For some, a summer trip to the beach is only complete if it includes a brightly colored, ice-cold adult beverage served in a plastic cup with a mini umbrella and a fruit garnish.
As such, those who mix, shake and pour alcoholic libations for beachgoers are an essential part of the summer party, especially in Atlantic City.
Enter Taylor Crowley, a 22-year-old from Tuckerton who has been slinging margaritas, hurricanes and daiquiris at the Hard Rock Beach Bar for two summers.
Crowley had never tended bar before last summer, and had to learn on the fly.
“It was a little intimidating, I’m not going to lie,” she said with a smile, “but it was the only way to learn.”
Crowley, who recently earned her bachelor’s degree in English education from Rowan University, said she wants to teach and would prefer to do so in Atlantic City. Being behind a busy beach bar has given her more than a few skills Crowley thinks she could use in a classroom.
“Definitely social skills because you’re dealing with so many different types of people,” she said, adding she’s had to figure out how to deal with a guest who may not want to talk at all while, at the same time, serving drinks to a talkative out-of-towner who picks her brain about where to go and what to do.
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Now, with a summer’s worth of experience under her belt, Crowley said she is “100%” more comfortable behind the bar. Her favorite drink to make is a Tito’s Orange Crush. The semisweet concoction is made with Tito’s vodka, fresh-squeezed orange juice, a splash of Sprite and an orange wedge.
“I just know a lot more (now),” Crowley said. “So, if someone asks for a drink that’s not on our menu, I know what it is now. Last summer, I knew our menu really good, but when it came to other things, I had to ask. Now, I’m whipping out everything.”
That’s good news for thirsty patrons, who pack the beach bar early every day.
“We’re busy all the time,” she said. “We have good people, a good crowd. When 12:30 (p.m.), 1 o’clock hits, we get rollin’.”
Atlantic City visitors come from all over, but Crowley said the beach bar sees its fair share of business from those with “sand in their shoes.”
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“We’ve got regulars here, and we get a lot of locals,” she said. “We get a lot of Atlantic City locals, which is awesome.”
The mix of people who visit the Hard Rock Beach Bar on a given day is somewhere between those looking to party and those who just want to sip a cocktail under a cabana while reading a book with the ocean waves as background noise.
Finding the balance to provide the best possible experience to each guest is what makes a good beach bartender, she said.
“(Hard Rock Beach Bar) has a very good vibe,” Crowley said. “You can party, but you can also relax. So if you want to just chill, hang out and relax, you can. But if you want to come out at night and dance all night, you can do that, too.”