A snapshot from behind the bar | VailDaily.com

A snapshot from behind the bar

Matt Inden
Matt IndenVeteran Vendetta's bartender, Chris McNamara, has been slinging drinks behind this bar for sixteen years. He loves the life, gets to see his friends at night and skis all day.

Veteran Vendetta’s bartender, Chris McNamara (or Mac as he is called), tells a tale or two of what life is like from behind the bar. A veteran bartender of 16 years he has the persona of someone that has seen and done it all, an unflappable figure even on the busiest and craziest of nights.

With a pen behind an ear and a Hawaiian shirt on his back, Mac doles out sweet spirits to the cool sounds of disco, or hip hop, or rock, depending on the night, the hour, the mood – so long as the patrons are having a good time.

As far as patrons having a good time, no one seems to do it better then our local ski patrol. Vendetta’s and the patrol have a special relationship, dating back to when Vendetta’s was called Donovan’s Copper Bar. Patrol get a free draft at the end of ski day. It’s called their raise, something ski patrol pioneer John Donovan Sr. started when Vail Mountain failed to give them the salary increase they wanted.

Mac’s story about the first-ever bartender ski day illustrates the good-natured rivalry between bar and patrol. The ski day consisted of a bartender reunion, of past and present players, taking to the mountain and terrorizing the slopes, toilet papering patrol shacks and wreaking general havoc on the hill. Word got back to patrol that it was the Vendetta crew and reprisal ensued on the bartender ski day organizer: Dave “Bone” Chapin.

Patrol ambushed the unsuspecting Mr. Bone in the comfy confines of the bar. They strapped him onto a stretcher, spun him in the air and poured margaritas down his throat.

They hazed and abused him for an hour, sliding him up and down the bar as everyone hooted and hollered, including “Bone.” “Anyway,” says Mac. “That’s a classic Vendetta’s story.” To this day the relationship with the patrol seems just as strong, and the patrol still get their raise after every ski day.

As far as for the rest of us that enter the bar, “people are people,” Mac says. “Some people are miserable and no matter what you do. They are just going to be miserable.”

Even with his unflappable professional demeanor, it can seem, at times, that Mac is on a permanent vacation. He gets to ski everyday. He hangs out with friends at night, and meets and works with great people from all around the world.

“I have made some of the best friends of my life from working here,” he says.

After 16 years of being a bartender, of breaking up fights and occasionally getting into them, Mac’s view from behind the bar has matured. Now he is a steady pro with a smooth smile armed with plenty of conversation about the old days, golf, or just what’s happening on the television.

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