Jerry Stearns, 43, is the general manager of the on-premise division of Silver State/Beacon Liquor & Wine. That means he is in charge of distributing liquor to non-retail businesses—casinos, restaurants and the like. Stearns attended the University of Nevada, Reno, on a football scholarship before heading off to Hyde Park, N.Y., to attend the Culinary Institute of America. The life-long bachelor—"no baggage,” he says—has worked for Silver State for 14 years, and he’s been a general manager for three years.
What’s your favorite liquor or drink name? I’ll tell you that mine is “schnapps.”
I’d have to say a Dirty Tuaca.
Because it’s real popular as a drink right now. We sell both products that go into a Dirty Tuaca: Tuaca and DeKuyper Apple Pucker.
I see that your decision is based more on business than the name itself.
Well, it’s actually both. Who would come up with a name for something like Dirty Tuaca?
Good point. What’s the most popular alcohol right now?
Shooter-wise, locally, it’s Tuaca, by far. Martinis also seem especially popular right now.
Do you drink?
Yes, I do.
What’s your favorite drink?
I am a fu-fu drinker. Anything with an umbrella and pineapple in it, I like. I just can’t drink the hard stuff. I taste it all so I can convey information to my customers, but for cocktails, it’s gonna have to be fruity and fun.
How many different types of alcohol are there?
Wow, there are so many. There are hundreds of brands of spirits we offer here, and that’s not including our wine companies. Plus, our competitor has the brands it represents. There are almost too many.
Reno’s got a reputation as a drinking town. Is it deserved?
Whenever you have 24-hour operations where you can have a cocktail, you can consider the place a drinking town.
Isn’t there a danger there?
I think the responsibility is left up to the individual drinker. Every bar owner or bartender can’t supervise each individual out there drinking alcohol. And whether it’s a 24-hour town or a 10-hour town, there will be people getting intoxicated.
You have a lot of cool liquor bottles here. What’s the coolest bottle you’ve ever seen?
Right now, the liquor industry is putting a main emphasis on packaging, to catch the customer’s eye when the bottle is sitting in the back bar. My favorite packaging is from the Vincent [Van Gogh] line. You look through the bottle, and you can see Van Gogh paintings. And the company that makes it, Luctor International, is headquartered here in Reno.
Does anything really funny happen to you on the job?
Nothing comes to mind, but I have to say that you have to have a sense of humor in this profession. With Reno going 24/7, business is always going on, and you have to have some humor in it to make it as fun as possible.