Worst Shift Ever: David Fritzler, Beverage Manager at Tryst
The brains behind the drinks at one of DC’s favorite gathering spots tells a tale of blood, super glue, and high-quality Burgundy.
Is there a tube of Super Glue behind that bar? David Fritzler at Tryst. Photograph by Erik Uecke
David Fritzler gets to have a lot of fun playing with cocktails and tasting wines for his job as beverage manager at Tryst. And these days, he’s focused on creating the drinks program for the new Columbia Heights restaurant from his boss, Constantine Stavropoulos.
But back when he worked at a hotel in Portland, Oregon, Fritzler was more of a hospitality jack-of-all-trades. “I worked a couple of nights a week in the bar and filled in wherever else I could—dining room, room service, banquets, even the parking lot,” he recalls. One slow, rainy night, a party of ten to 12 serious-looking Russians walked into the restaurant, and what followed was David Fritzler’s worst shift ever—or his best, depending how you look at it.
Here, in his own words, is what happened:
“The Russians started with cocktails, which is always a good sign. Unlike most of the local regulars and old blue-hairs who came to the restaurant seeking conversation, these people were here to eat and drink. I appreciated that.
“They ordered a couple bottles of wine before the first courses came out, another good sign. I remember they skipped the decent Oregon Pinots we had on the list and ordered some really nice Burgundies. I brought out the wine and began to open the bottles. Someone at the table asked me a question, so I wasn’t watching closely what I was doing as I removed the heavy foil from one of the bottles. The foil sliced deep into the skin at the base of my left thumb.
“I must have hit something. Blood poured out, and I could feel it pulse. Before anyone saw anything, I grabbed the napkin I had wrapped around the bottle to put pressure on the cut, and gripped the bottle while I removed the cork. I hid my hand behind my back as I poured the bottles, but by the time I got to the last glass I could tell the white napkin was completely wet and soaked through with blood. Then I looked down to see a woman at the table with her mouth wide open, leaning back in her chair and staring at my makeshift bloody bandage.
“She didn’t say a thing.
“I could tell this cut wasn’t going to stop bleeding, so I ran to the scary closet where the handyman worked and dug around until I found some super glue. Super glue works kind of like liquid stitches, but it fizzes and has a hard time adhering to anything wet (like blood), so a bad cut can take time to set. You basically have to build a glue scab over the wound.
“I ran back to the bar and threw a Band-Aid over the glue. By the time I got back to the table, the Russians were ready for more wine. We didn’t have a lot of good stuff at that hotel, but they drank all we had. Not being able to grip a bottle with my thumb made opening it pretty awkward, but at the end of the night, the Russians ordered one last bottle, and they left it for me … along with a sizable gratuity.”