Surfing Deer is the perfect place for bar manager Jake Purvis, and not just for the bartending atmosphere. The lifetime Emerald Coast local said he got his start in the restaurant industry all because of his love for the sport of surfing.
“I started washing dishes when was 14 years old at Pandora’s Steak House on Okaloosa Island,” Purvis said. “I told my dad I wanted a surfboard, and he told me to get a job, so I started washing dishes.”
Although Purvis said he no longer surfs, the year he set out to buy a board, he was more than successful.
“I bought two surfboards that summer, so I did well,” he said, laughing.
When asked what caused him to stick with the restaurant industry more than 20 years later, Purvis said the people he gets to meet and work with are what keep him coming back.
“I’m just a people person,” he said. “That’s why I could never be a banker or sit in an office — it’s just not in my blood.”
As for the cocktail side of his job, Purvis said he loves to be creative and try his hand at crafting his own beverages.
“I like to be innovative and try new spins on classic cocktails,” he said. “I also like to get as local as I can, as there are lots of good spirits coming out of Florida right now.”
Purvis said one such local cocktail is the Floridapolitan in which every ingredient is sourced from the Sunshine State.
“We use Saint Augustine vodka, Tippler’s Orange Liqueur out of Saint Petersburg, and cranberry cordial from Saint Petersburg as well,” he said. “We get a really diverse group of people in here from states where these spirits are not available, so we like to let them try things they might not have back home.”
As for his signature sip, Purvis chose a drink that he crafted himself — the Cube McGee.
The Cube McGee features the flavors of fresh orange, lemon and blackberry muddled into a mixture of smoked maple syrup, orange and Angostura bitters and Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon.
Some might think the Cube McGee is named for the large ice cube in the bourbon-based beverage, but Purvis explained the drink is much more meaningful than aesthetics.
“The restaurant was founded on (the story of) the man who platted out Seagrove in the '50s, '60s and '70s — Cube McGee. He had a pet deer named Bambi so that’s where the term Surfing Deer came from. I wanted to come up with a signature cocktail to pay homage to Cube McGee, so it’s my take on an old fashioned because I thought he might be a bourbon guy.”
Surfing Deer is at 2743 East County Highway 30a in the Seagrove neighborhood of Santa Rosa Beach. Happy hour runs 5-6:30 p.m. daily. Visit www.surfingdeer.com or call 850-213-4200.