While bar re-openings are still up in the air in Dallas, bartenders remain passionate about cocktails. While it may be awhile before your favorite watering hole opens back up, Lakewood resident Anna Mains wants you to have fun with your spirits.
Mains is a national ambassador for Monkey Shoulder blended malt Scotch whisky. She was born and raised in Dallas. She is an alumna of The Hockaday School and briefly attended University of Texas at Austin after graduating college.
During her time at UT, she made a mistake of which many of us are guilty; she racked up thousands in credit card debt.
“I was fortunate enough to have parents who were able to help pay tuition,” Mains says. “Their one rule was do not open a credit card. They told me ‘You’re too impulsive, you’re not old enough to handle it.’ I remember that first week, I was walking through the main mall, and I had all these people coming up to me like ‘sign up for this credit card, sign up for this credit card.’ So I signed up for a bunch of credit cards.”
Over time, credit card bills began to accumulate. She attempted to hide them from her parents during her first summer back home, however, the credit card companies began to call.
Mains was unsure of how she would get out of debt. Her mother, who was a grad student at the time, later presented her with a job opportunity. In one of her classes, she met someone who was a manager at a Pappasito’s Cantina restaurant in Dallas.
“I guess my mother must have said something like ‘Oh, my daughter made the freshman mistake of opening a bunch of credit cards, and now we’re trying to figure out what to do so she can learn her lesson,’” Mains says, “and he said ‘Oh, well I need servers.’”
She took on a summer job as a server, however, because of her friendly demeanor and talkative nature, Mains was quickly promoted to bartender. She quickly took to her role and knew she wanted to work in spirits.
“It was right from that time, I knew that I loved it,” Mains says. “I knew that that was what I wanted my career to be.”
Mains spent the summer learning about cocktails. She later transferred to University of Tulsa, where she graduated in 2005, with a degree in Marketing and Communications.
“When I graduated college, Facebook had just been invented, pretty much,” Mains says. “So it’s funny, because people are like ‘You kind of followed what you originally got your degree in’ and I’m like ‘Oh no, nothing that we learned is applicable today.’”
Shortly after graduating college, Mains bought a sushi bar called In the Raw in Oklahoma City. She had a bartending stint there before later deciding to open a bar called Rockford in Oklahoma’s Northwest 23rd Street bar district.
After both restaurants closed and Mains divorced her then-husband, she decided to return to Dallas. She was supported in her decision by Adam Harris, a national ambassador for Jim Beam.
She worked a few years as a brand ambassador for Maker’s Mark Bourbon and was later approached to be a national ambassador for Monkey Shoulder.
Her first day on the job was March 16, shortly before bars were ordered to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s been a little bit of a different journey from what anybody ever thinks the beginning of their dream job is going to be,” Mains says, “but there have been some silver linings.”
Mains says the pandemic has forced her to get creative with how she promotes Monkey Shoulder. In many of her Instagram posts, she includes cocktail recipes for her followers to make at home.
“We’re able to see people through the Zoom screen, but you don’t get that same energy as you would in person,” Mains says, “and it’s just not the same.you strip all of that away, and we’ve had to learn to really dig deep into creating content and connecting with people in a different way.”
One of her favorite cocktails to make is the monkey colada, a Monkey Shoulder-based spin on the piña colada.
While scotch isn’t typically regarded as a “fun” liquor, Mains wants for drinkers to feel festive when they drink Monkey Shoulder. While many of us are missing going out to bars, Mains encourages us to have fun at home, and to not be afraid to think outside of the box.
“It’s been fun to introduce people to new ways to play with their mixes,” Mains says. “We’re an industry of selling fun, and that’s what I loved about the brand because it says ‘Why should we have all these rules?’ What about something that just tastes good, and is fun?”
Mains shares with Lakewood Advocate her lazy old fashioned recipe
Lazy Old Fashioned (makes 12 cocktails)
1 (750mL) bottle Monkey Shoulder
3 parts simple syrup
1 part angostura bitters
- Pour out 4 oz of Monkey from your bottle..
- Enjoy this spare whisky as you like!
- Pour 3oz of simple syrup back into the bottle.
- Add 1oz of Angostura Bitters back into the bottle.
- Put the lid back on. Shake and store in the fridge, you’re ready to pour 12 Old Fashioneds over ice.
- Garnish them each with orange zest.
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