Monday, September 12, 2011

Mixing a Drink or Officiating a Wedding, Fran Adams is Marina del Rey’s Biggest Fan

The Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey straddles the line between contemporary elegance and approachable ease. The hospitality is warm, the standards are high. At its signature restaurant, jer-ne, the bar is the main attraction. Both locals and international travelers spend late afternoons and late nights at its high-backed, plush leather stools. The difference between jer-ne’s bar and the bar down the street is not just its proximity to the water (100 yards away) or high end bar snacks (think: truffled fries) – it’s a bartender named Fran.

Frances A
dams has been working behind jer-ne’s bar for exactly 14 years this month. She’s a former Second City performer from the Midwest who’s adopted the Marina as her permanent home; her personal and work email handle is “windymarina.” A few years ago, good friends of hers who were also co-workers, asked if she would consider becoming a minister to marry them. She did, and has since married seven couples in the Marina – all of them had been regulars at her bar. Recently, we sat down with Fran to talk drinks and share stories about the Marina.

Q: How long have you been a bartender?

A: Since I was 18. I’m originally from Milwaukee and I’m a 4th generation bartender. My father was an outstanding bartender. His father was the most famous bartender in Milwaukee. My great-grandfather was a horrible bartender, my great-great grandfather was also an excellent bartender, so they say.

Q: Where in town do you live?

A: In the Marina, in Mariner’s Village. When I first moved to LA, I thought it would be a good place to start but I love it. I love the fog and the cool mornings, sweaters and fireplaces. If I never see another humid Midwestern summer I will be happy.

Q: What’s your favorite water activity in town?

A: I’m not much of a water person, but I do love being on boats. I love the Marina’s $1 water taxi in the summer. I take it every weekend on my way to doing my grocery shopping at Nick’s Grocery Store. Mike and Michele own it; it’s right off the beach.
You’d think it was a little bodega but they have a great wine selection, unique frozen foods too.

Q: What’s the most popular cocktail at Jer-ne?

A: The Vodka Martini. We also have a really beautiful single malt scotch collection. Scotch lovers know us pretty well.

Q: What’s your favorite drink to make?

A: It’s also our signature drink, the #14. It’s a cocktail I created for a guest who stayed with us for a full summer. He’s an NBA Player, Anthony Mason. That year, he was training and looking to get a contract. All summer long, he wouldn’t drink because he was training, but he fantasized about drinks and would come and sit at my bar and ask me what kind of drink I would make for him once he was signed and the summer came to an end. I thought about it and made him a drink that tastes like summer, with pineapple and passion fruit. At the end of that summer, he signed the biggest contract of his career. He comes back to visit his lucky place every year – it’s been 10 years since I created that drink – and now there’s a #14 ½ -- he has a son who also plays basketball! We added coconut to the #14 for that one.

Q: What are some of your favorite places in the Marina(besides Jer-ne)?

A: Tony P’s. I love Tony. He’s the unofficial mayor of Marina del Rey. I love him as my neighbor, he’s just so gracious and he’s a wonderful host.

I’m addicted to Mendocino Farms, I send all of our guests there. They all come back raving about it.

I also always find great things at Beverage Warehouse – I could spend a day in there, just looking at everything!

Q: What else so you love about the Marina?

A: I love that at my bar I have regulars, but they’re not all locals. I have regulars that come from San Francisco every other week who know the regulars that come from New York once a month who know the regulars that come from down the street. Marina del Rey is a great neighborhood because you always feel like a local, even if you’re not from the city…