Meet Kd Mattox, a bartender at Oceanside Beach Bar and Grill in Flagler Beach. Mattox shares about her start in bartending, what she loves about working in Flagler Beach, and how Oceanside raises the bar when it comes to crafting cocktails. KD Mattox

What do you love about bartending at Oceanside?  

My favorite thing about bartending is making connections with locals and visitors. I love how a simple conversation about sports, drinks or even food can lead to memories they’ve made, places they’ve traveled or even things they’ve done. It kind of reminds me of being around a dinner table when the family starts talking about their day and instantly turns into a deeper conversation.

How did you get started in bartending? 

I’ve always been interested in bartending; however, I was never presented with the opportunity until I became an employee at Oceanside. Our General Manager Dan Miller had mentioned in my interview when I first started out that he would like to see me grow into becoming a bartender. My coworkers would show me little things behind the bar when I had time during my shifts to help me learn certain recipes or even simply how to craft a proper cocktail. I was a little nervous when they started to train me behind the bar, but with my coworkers and managers’ help they made it an easy transition.

What do you love about working in Flagler Beach? What makes it unique?

One of my favorite things is obviously the view—one thing about Flagler compared to other cities is there are not any hotels, condos or even houses directly on the beach. Any restaurant or business you work in, [there won’t be] another building obstructing your view. Additionally, a lot of the businesses are family-owned which means that when you support them, you’re supporting locally and to me that is such an important thing to see.

Describe your favorite cocktail that you make at Oceanside? Why is it your favorite?

My favorite cocktail to make at Oceanside would have to be our Very Berry Mule. I love how the fresh muddled blueberries, strawberries and lime complement the Grey Goose vodka, pomegranate liqueur and ginger beer. It’s not only one of my favorite drinks to craft, but also to drink. It’s a drink I enjoy making and watching others enjoy as well. One thing I always do after making a cocktail is checking to see if the customer likes it as well, I never want any customer dissatisfied with a drink and it’s important to know that you’re crafting them properly.

What’s the most popular drink at Oceanside?

The most popular drink would have to be our Flagler Punch, with its Spiced and Coconut Bacardi, complemented by a banana liqueur, and fresh orange and pineapple juices. We then shake the ingredients over ice before pouring it into a pineapple shaped glass, adding a blackberry liqueur floater and lastly garnishing with a pineapple leaf, fresh orange and cherry. Not only does the drink look like a pineapple once finished, but it fits perfectly with being right along the beach with a fresh ocean breeze.

Can you share some tips for crafting the perfect drink at home?

Crafting the perfect drink is honestly always different in everyone’s book, however having fresh juices and fruits can easily make a difference. When I make cocktails at home, I’m always measuring my pours and watching how much of each ingredient I add in, then making sure I shake it. However, not everyone owns a shaker, so simply tossing the drink a few times between cups can help mix the cocktail nicely so you’re not just simply drinking the liquors or juices on their own. Mixing the ingredients to the cocktail can truly make a difference on the taste.

Do you come up with new featured cocktails? What’s the process?  

As bartenders at Oceanside, we’ll come in with new ideas for cocktails frequently. We constantly change our featured drinks every two weeks, and this not only gives customers new drinks from our menu to try, but also it allows us creativity when creating drinks. It’s always fun and exciting bringing in new recipes or even just trying different ingredients together to find a proper drink. We don’t always have the perfect mix at the beginning so we may have to make adjustments and try it a few times before finally settling on one. The bartenders will craft the cocktails and have the owners, managers and staff try them…to taste test… Once we find a proper cocktail, that not only tastes good but looks good, we then add to our featured menu.

You meet a lot of people while bartending, have you developed any friendships with patrons?

I have definitely made friendships with patrons, when talking to them you come across people who live locally and have traveled, are on vacation, or even just simply there to unwind. Simply talking to each individual can lead to many kinds of stories or [learning about the] stresses even that are going on with their everyday life. It’s a different kind of feeling when you connect on something that hits personally to you and you realize you’re not the only one dealing with the struggles of life. It’s creating a bond and friendship and each time you see them come in it’s like reconnecting with a friend you haven’t seen or talked to in a while.

Discover more restaurants in Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches.