Johana Herrera Amaya has found her niche behind the bar.
She said it wasn’t always that way – as she walked away from the restaurant scene for a few years to try tax preparation work – but when the vibrant service world came calling once again, she followed without looking back.
“Just being behind the bar, I’m in my zone,” Herrera said. “When I make people happy with their drinks it makes me want to do more. I figure if I’m at work, I might as well have fun with it.”
At Crab Island Cantina, Herrera said it’s easy to enjoy her job.
“Here on the harbor, we have different tourists from the north and the west, and I like to build relationships with them while they are here,” she said. “It’s fun to hear their stories and sometimes they tell me how drinks are made where they are from so I learn from them as well.”
Herrera said she likes to be personable and fun with her customers, and she is even teaching herself some bartending tricks so she can put on a show.
“I like to watch flare videos,” she laughed. “I think it’s really cool, so I’m trying it at home and practicing. It’s an entertaining thing, and I like to learn those types of skills.”
So far, Herrera said, she has mastered flipping the mixing tin in her hand, but she hopes to someday be able to throw and catch bottles behind her back.
As for her signature sip, Herrera chose the Cantina Breeze, a new menu item at the Latin-infusion restaurant.
“Our Cantina Breeze is a 32-ounce tequila-based drink with fresh lime juice and a Mexican grapefruit soda floater,” she said. “It’s a very refreshing drink and it’s very fresh, so I think that’s why I like it.”
The Cantina Breeze comes in a cactus-shaped souvenir cup and can be enjoyed as you stroll the HarborWalk Village, which is an added bonus, Herrera said.
In fact, Herrera invited everyone to the harbor this Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. as Crab Island Cantina hosts the 5th Annual Tacos and Tequila Festival.
“It’s the second biggest event after Cinco De Mayo,” Herrera said. “We have three stages that will have live music. We will have a lot of different taco tastings, 20 different tequilas, just a good vibe and a good time. Make sure you come out and try the Cantina Breeze here at Crab Island Cantina. I’ll be your bartender.”
Crab Island Cantina is at 2 Harbor Blvd. at the HarborWalk Village in Destin. Happy Hour is 3-6 p.m. daily. Visit http://www.crabislandcantina.com or call 850-424-7417.