By RJ Johnson
With June being Pride month, the crew at Mad Myrna’s is gearing up for the week of celebration that is about to happen. Rainbow flags are draped from every surface that will stay still, and the world famous drag queens and performers of the Friday Night Diva Variety Show are preparing themselves for all new performances to entertain their loyal fans. For some of the crew at Anchorage’s best-known gay bar this entire process is an exciting, but almost routine part of the year. The way other establishments prepare for Halloween, New Years, and St. Patrick’s Day, Myrna’s prepares for Anchorage Pride.
Chris Jones and Misha Daniels have a pretty good handle on what their customer base enjoys and have been putting out sassy and fun cocktail menu’s on the bar since Jones took over as manager a little over a year ago. Even the names of the drinks will let you know that you are drinking somewhere that knows how to have fun. How can you possibly order a Unicorn Rim Job Shot and not smile? Perhaps a Pink Lady Jizz or a Buttfucker is more your speed? You can get that Buttfucker Deluxe if you ask nicely.
There is a new addition to the staff at Myrna’s and he is having a great time getting ready for his first Pride season at the gay bar. 24-year-old Blake Klein has only been bartending for a month, but he had plans to work at the bar since the first time he visited it shortly after turning 21. “I have been hinting at bartending here since I visited in 2015 with my friend Vicente. Even when I was in the military, I would hint at it and talk about how I would love to be a bartender here one day.”
Klein is originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma and after his time in the military he was trying to decide which college he wanted to attend. “So, when I was picking engineering schools it was either here or Utah, and I could not get myself to move to Salt Lake City!” He fell in love with the mountains, the outdoors, and the people. He spends much of his free time hiking with his dog Yala and posting pictures of his adventures on his social media. He recently got a drone and has been photographing landscapes from the air. It comes as no surprise that the rocky peaks fascinate him. His major at University of Alaska Fairbanks is Geological Engineering, which he can attend in Anchorage. With class out for the summer he is excited to start his favorite warm weather activity which involves getting down out of high places with speed. “I downhill Mountain Bike, that’s my big summer activity but I haven’t started yet because it opens on Friday. I pay for that season pass!”
When Klein was in the Army much of his job involved talking to people. “I worked at the United States Military Academy, and I worked for their headquarters company, and Army community service, so it was the social working side of the military.” That same social side comes into play often when he is behind the bar, and luckily it is also his favorite part of the job. “I really like socializing with people, I really like talking to people. Especially those that haven’t lived a lifestyle that I have lived. I love learning about other cultures, and histories, and where they are from. It’s why I like working here at Myrna’s. We have people that come off these cruise ships and from the airport and they have diverse, creative, new backgrounds.”
As far as cocktails the charming young bartender has a simple rule as far as what he enjoys. “I’m gay, so I love Malibu. If you think it’s going to give you a hangover, I am going to like it, and I am gay, so I also do shots. That’s kind of my thing.” It’s more than just what he drinks, he also loves creating cocktails with the coconut rum. His current special tastes exactly like it sounds. “Malibu Summer. It’s with the Summer Red Bull. It’s blue and delicious!” he laughed and added “I love energy drinks!” He took the new edition of red bull, mixed in his favorite rum, and added some pineapple juice and some blue curacao in order to keep it his favorite color.
Sometimes the secret to a great drink is in the simplicity, and Klein seems to understand what will make a good nightclub cocktail. As he gets ready for Pride he is learning as much as he can about the industry, and recently survived his first weekend night shift, a benchmark for any mixologist. Klein seems like an easygoing person who would be difficult to catch in a bad mood. He says he doesn’t see himself cracking under the pressure, “After the army, bartending doesn’t really stress me” he smirked. He has three weeks to make sure that it doesn’t. Happy Pride Month everyone.