Each of the boxing bartenders have chosen fight names, but Christa Havican’s is a little different. She’s fighting as “Christa Monster” (“like in your closet”), a name given to her by a childhood friend. It stuck.
"You could yell 'Monster!’ across a bar, and I'll turn around,” she says.
Havican was excited about the competition before she knew the details. “The industry is my family,” she says. “Anything we do, we're going to have fun.” But there was more to it than that. “I'm a kid who grew up on a street full of boys, kind of rough and tumble. You're playing kickball in the street and screaming ‘car’ to get out of the way,” she says. “Being a female in kind of a men's community, you hang with the boys, so anything that involves that, I get excited and want to play. So when we heard it was boxing I got even more excited.”
A 10-year veteran of the Houston bar scene, spanning everything from patio bars to fine dining, Havican is now bartending at Reserve 101 (“a highfalutin whiskey bar,” she says with a laugh). “I am that girl who wears cut-off shorts and cowboy boots, but I can also class it up to work in a fine dining restaurant.”
Aside from her bartending work, Havican is an illustrator and painter. Eventually, she’d like to write and illustrate children’s books, but she’s not about to stop bartending. “I originally started bartending because, you know, the money was there, and then I fell in love with the lifestyle and it just became a part of me, but there's always been that desire to illustrate and create,” she says. “That is my work-life balance.”
Far from diminishing her work, her art has informed her bartending. “It's always important for me to tie my art into my cocktails. Anything that I've ever succeeded in in bartending had to do with some artistic flair, whether that be freezing roses in king cubes, making my own cocktail picks, or even making my own glassware,” she says. For Havican, art and bartending go hand-in-hand. “I think that both of them feed a different part of my soul, and when the two things intertwine it becomes something really great.
“The first experience of any cocktail — you’re going to drink that in with your eyes, so if you see this beautiful, artfully done cocktail, that lays an impression upon you instantly. I think it's actually a crucial part of creating a great drink,” she says.
Though she’s always interested in being active with friends, Havican had never boxed before the competition. “The learning curve is significant,” she says. Still, she’s dedicated, and she’s changing up her routine to stay competitive and feel better in practice. “Usually I'll show up an hour early, get my run in and warm up and get wrapped up and be ready to go before class starts, because I'm excited about it. I'm really enjoying myself,” she says. She’s stopped drinking, is eating healthy, and has greatly increased her water intake. “One thing lends a hand to the other, drinking more water because you're so thirsty by the time you're out, but then the next practice you feel better because you've been drinking so much water. It's cyclical and awesome.”
Havican is planning to take some of the skills she’s acquired as a bartender to the ring. “We push ourselves, sometimes to the limit. You have three deep on a Friday night all the way down your bar and no signs of letting up. It's a 13-hour shift and maybe you worked a double 'clopen.' You push through, you make your effort, and you stay with it. We're not a group of quitters,” she says. “I think that being a bartender teaches you that you're in it to win it, you're going to complete what you started.”
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