Feb 28, 2018

10 things (mostly) about JT's: Inventive drinks, great food, college football history, good hosts and more

Holly behind the bar at JT's
Doc's report:

A recent question at bar trivia asked: "Which of these drinks does not belong with the others?":
    a. Tanqueray and tonic
    b. Jack and Coke
    c. Cranberry juice and vodka
    d. 7 and 7

The answer is "c," a cosmopolitan. The other three are call drinks, so named because the waitress "calls" a specific brand of spirits, like Jack Daniel's. One of the 7s in a 7 and 7 is Seagram's 7 Crown.

Holly, our bartender on a recent trip to JT's Pub, knew that. Like Harry and me, Holly is an alum of SVSU, and, like my mother, of Reese High School. With that pedigree, you'd expect her to have the competence and personality that will serve her well in a coming job in sales.

A competent and personable bartender is the first and most important reason to visit JT's or any bar. Holly's drink of choice is the Dirty Girl Scout, with a taste similar to that of a thin mint: creme de menthe, creme de cacao and Bailey's. Holly is young, another virtue in a sales rep.

Holly's up-beat professionalism was one reason for the success of our recent visit to JT's. Here are nine more:

2. Johna, Holly's co-worker. A daughter of Standish, Johna is figuring out life at Delta while inventing mixed drinks. Her favorite is the as-yet-unnamed rum, Sprite and cranberry concoction with a twist of lime. Because of her name and rum's association with pirates, we suggested the eponymous name Johna Depp.

You laugh now. But substitute a mango for the lime and you're sailing the Black Pearl up Johnson to the check-out counter at the Ideal Party Store.

3.  The owners are also hosts. That was certainly the case on my second visit when Rusty and Scott Schisler greeted my guest and me, seated us, made informed and amusing small talk about sports, answered our questions about the pub, looked in on us throughout the meal, and
Wall sign at JT's
asked us to come again when we left. They didn't treat us like customers at their place of business. They treated us like guests in their home.

4. Decor, ambience. Warm tones of brick and dark wood, muted lighting, a narrow room longer than it is wide -- and a bar stretching half that length. Speaking as a janitor, I was affirmed in my choice of profession on a visit to the men's room. Pristine.

5. Great food. You want miso-glazed mahi mahi? No problem. Right on the river at the Real Seafood Company. You want Great Lakes perch deep-fried to perfection? Enormous wings just as they should be -- fall-apart moist inside, crispy outside? Authentic fries and individually sliced and battered onion rings? In other words, standard fare prepared as well as it can be, and served elegantly in a large, raised rim plate/bowl? Like everything else at JT's -- excellence in every detail.

6. The logo. A good bar logo has to capture the place at a glance. A favorite is the Public House's logo, as elegant as the service and offerings inside. JT's is just as fitting: an inclusive
The deck out back, awaiting summer.
circle, where everyone's welcomed, with the namesake's hand-written initials under the bar's name, his spirit still animating the place.

7. Sex on TV. I thought I'd reward the faithful reader who stayed with me this long.

When I was a kid there was a joke: Q. Do you like sex on TV? A. Yes, but sometimes the antenna gets stuck in my butt.

Sports were on six of JT's seven flat screens when Harry and I visited. But it was Valentine's Day, and so, on the seventh, a daytime soap opera showed three tasteful romantic situations, one after another, all set in hotel rooms. In the first, a passionate interracial couple. Next, a businessman with a loosened tie and a much younger woman (secretary?) in a bunny costume. Last, a rock star with a much younger woman wearing a T-shirt that read "I'm with the band."

8. Shuffleboard on ice. I can't account for the sudden burst of popularity in the sport of curling, but I know everyone's talking about it. I know a woman who keeps her stone on her mantle, and another woman who curls in a league in Midland. There it was: live from Pyeongchang. As a professional janitor, I think it falls to my peers and me to uphold the highest standards in strategic sweeping.

9. Sports provenance. JT's is named after the late John Jason Tierney, who played football at Alma College. Seeing a photo of him in his uniform and the Alma banner on the wall is
Jay Berwanger, an ancestor of the owners, was a football star.
a refreshing break from the endless parade of Michigan, Michigan State and CMU branding.

John was the grandson of Jay Berwanger, who played at the University of Chicago on Stagg Field, where Enrico Fermi achieved the first artificial nuclear chain reaction, as part of the Manhattan Project. In a 1934 game against the maize and blue, Berwanger hit the Michigan center so hard, he left a permanent scar under the Wolverine's left eye.

Berwanger went on to become the first winner of the Heisman trophy, awarded to that year's outstanding college football player. The Michigan center went on to become 38th president of the United States, an office which, even during Gerald Ford's presidency, still carried some respectability.

A promotional flyer for tickets during Berwanger's playing days offers games with six opponents. Tickets to the Butler and Lawrence games were $1.10, while the more competitive Purdue and Illinois games set you back a cool $2.25.

I think my alma mater should adopt this practice, with tickets to say, the Michigan-Rutgers game selling for $60, while the Michigan-MSU and Michigan-Ohio State games would require taking out a second mortgage on your home.

10. Harry's humorous husbandry. When he tried one of Johna's rum, Sprite and cranberry concoctions, he confessed it would be his last. But he got it down. "My mother always told me, 'People are sober in China,'" he said.

So here's the good news: JT's has everything you could want in a restaurant bar. It's a real addition to the Bay City bar scene and raises the bar for excellence to a new height. It does for the West Side what Coonan's does for the East.

The bad news? After Trump is impeached, we're stuck with Pence.

See the hairy guy's report on JT's: An old place with a new name, a great burger, fancy fries, a nameless drink and a useful ladies' room


Anonymous said...

Pretty bold to end on a political shot. Aren't you afraid of alienating up to 30% of your readers?

Anonymous said...

Nah, they can’t read!