Hey, Bartender: Behind the Scenes at Oakley Wines

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Name: Joe Purdue, General Manager
Bar: The Cellar at Oakley Wines, Oakley
Summer Drink of Choice: Gin and tonic

In just a few years, Joe Purdue went from service assistant (read: busser) at Boca and bartender at Abigail Street to general manager of The Cellar at Oakley Wines. He’s helped the shop—and the neighborhood—upgrade its nightlife profile.

The cocktail menu features an Old Fashioned that literally has your name on it (“Joe’s Old Fashioned”). How did you make that yours? Some people are making Old Fashioneds like they’re Manhattans; they’re starting off very sweet. Our candied orange dissolves over time and we’re using dark, unsweetened cherries—so the idea is that it’s not too sweet off the bat.

How is Oakley different from OTR? OTR has an internal Cincinnati tourist thing, where people are coming down from the suburbs to spend the night. Around here, it’s very neighborhood-oriented. So we get the same people who walk down for the Friday wine tasting every single week.

You were a stay-at-home dad for a while. How does this job fit with your family life? [Owner] Zach [Eidson] has created a family-oriented environment. We have a high chair in the basement. People have brought their kids to the tastings for years. It’s a lot of fun to see the families developing around The Cellar and Oakley Wines.

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