The Bartender Who Lived

Your favorite drink-maker, Jane Danger, and a deep love for a certain wizarding world.

July 27, 2016 ● 3 min read

This is a tale of a bartender: first name Jane, last name Danger.  

Jane grew up in the wilds of Minnesota, the daughter of a bass-plucking wood-presser and a guitar-strumming photographer. She is known for her whimsical libations at New York City watering holes — one sipped through a yawning ceramic shark mouth, another topped with a bouquet of raspberries and an upturned Underberg — but if you really look, there are little clues to the past from which she springs.

Namely, the owl that gazes over the bar at Cienfuegos. Or her fondness for Fireball and over-proof whiskey, her reluctant but steadfast dedication to using pumpkin juice on every fall menu.  

Jane, you see, is a Harry Potter person.  

And now, for a brief spin of the Time-Turner.  

That bass-plucking, wood-pressing mother of hers also writes short stories in her spare time, stacks of them, about strange little creatures that live in the backyard sandbox, which seems to have contributed mightily to Jane’s rambunctious imagination. They are a Star Wars family, a Star Trek family, a Tolkien family. When a single mother in London famously put pen to napkin to create the Potter universe, it was her parents, not young Jane, who got their hands on it first. To meet the boy wizard that so gripped a generation, Jane had to get the flu.

Stuck in the house for two weeks in the midst of a Midwestern winter, a 14-year-old Jane cracked open Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets. Purists might flinch at this out-of-order devouring, but more pragmatic fans know it doesn’t matter; she was hooked.
By the release of the fifth installment, she had joined the giddy throngs of Potterheads in homespun robes and painted-on lightning scars camping out at the local bookstore. Ditto year six, and year seven. When the movies came out, she was there for the midnight premieres.

All of this came naturally to Jane. So did flying to London for the stage production of newcomer The Cursed Child; at intermission, she and a fellow enthusiast gaped at one another, Jane blurting “wait, okay” over and over until the lights went back down.

There is a sizeable band of adults now making their way through a cosmos of rent checks and hangovers and Instagram who grew up half in Hogwarts, and half in the real world. When faceless dinosaurs hem and haw about the pesky dreamers of the millennial set, they forget that those dreamers were raised on magic. That sticks. It’s the reason we have real butterbeer and fire whiskey and pumpkin juice cocktails. Harry Potter, and the entire realm he anchors, continues to endure — for 19 years and counting.

“It’s about the underdog. People always love the underdog. You've got the baddies versus the goodies,” Jane explains. “It's about the base of all things. There’s a lot of good stuff in there about valuing your friends and the mistakes we make when we're young.”

It’s also important to have more than just bartending in one's life, which is why many of her industry peers are Potter people, Trekkies, Tolkienites. There's a depth to these universes that a person with a creatively demanding job and weird hours can vibe with. When she worked at Death & Co., a fellow bartender had 30 magazines come to his house every month just so he could have something to talk to every guest about. After standing behind a bar for 11 years, Jane too craves a deeper kind of relationship during that hour someone sits in front of her.

“Sometimes we're a little too focused on what's in the glass and we forget about some of the things around us,” she says. “Having a great bar is many things.” Like a Hedwig in the corner.

When people are being particularly wad-like, Jane often pictures Severus Snape. Why might you be acting this way? she thinks. Maybe you too were once in love with Lily Potter
She once received a homemade Gryffindor scarf for Christmas.

She is still waiting on her Hogwarts letter. 

As told to Cassandra Landry ||  Illustration by Cal Tabuena-Frolli