As lead bartender at Bonefish Grill in Greenwood, Walt Spaulding meets plenty of people as he crafts cocktails. While the southside setting certainly differs from his previous home base of Las Vegas, some universal elements come with the territory, wherever it may be. Here, Spaulding chats with South about life behind the bar.
You moved to the Indianapolis area from Las Vegas. Why the change, and how does Indy compare to the City of Lights?
I had been living in Las Vegas for 11 years when I first visited Indianapolis and was charmed by its Midwest character and values. My wife is originally from the south side of Indianapolis, and I was ready for a change. I grew up visiting my grandparents in Wisconsin each summer and loved the fishing in the Midwest. Indianapolis is much more relaxed and laid-back than Las Vegas.
What are your favorite drinks to mix, and why?
My favorite drinks to mix are our handcrafted martinis, because it means so much more than a shake and a stir. I approach each cocktail as a work of art, fine-tuning the perfect flavors to make every cocktail unique and memorable for guests.
How does “the neighborhood bartender” play an integral role in his community?
The experience we give is based on the premise of simplicity, consistency and a strong commitment to escaping the ordinary.
People are known to talk to their favorite bartenders. What’s the most unusual story you’ve heard from a guest (anywhere, not just at Bonefish Grill)?
There are many stories that come to mind. One that stands out is a very earnest gentleman who came in with his wife. They both seemed to be rational and productive members of the community. He told me he had been at a drive-in movie theater in the Indianapolis area in the early ’90s where a large spacecraft and a smaller spacecraft flew at a low level over the drive-in before departing at a high rate of speed. So, now you know extraterrestrials love Indianapolis, too.
What are a few key do’s and don’ts for being a good bar guest?
»Do come in, have a great time, relax and enjoy a drink and a bite to eat.
»Do visit us and spend a few minutes getting to know your fellow bar guests and our staff as you enjoy your evening. You may make a new friend.
»Don’t be disrespectful or rude to the people around you. They are trying to enjoy themselves.
»Please do not express political views in an overly vocal fashion. Some people around you may have different views or be trying to avoid politics and relax.
By Julie Cope Saetre // Photography by April Knox