Madalyn LaBella, Oyster Club

Madalyn LaBella, Oyster Club (Sara Grant / CTNow / June 17, 2014)

Knowing it was something she always wanted to do, Madalyn started bartending two years ago, beginning as . a bar back and server, watching the bartender to learn the tricks of the trade. When Oyster Club manager Mariah asked Madalyn to travel to the Virgin Islands with her last winter, she took her first trip away from home and got a job as a bartender at one of the most intense bars on the island. She brought those skills (and even some drinks) back to the Oyster Club.

Q: What's it like to work in a tree house?

A: It's unique. You don't see this anywhere around here. When people come up here they're amazed. We have some umbrellas up, but the tree gives great natural shade. It has a really great view of the Mystic River since we're up on a giant rock.

Q: The drinks are farm to table, I watched you pick the ingredients from the garden. Does it make you feel differently about what you're serving?

A: Absolutely. It makes me proud that I can create something where I know where everything is coming from. We here at Oyster Club have a better connection with what we love to do. We can come out here and pick something like basil for a drink of the chefs from the kitchen and know where it came from.

Q: What's your favorite drink on the menu?

A: Probably the cucumber smash. It's very refreshing and you have the fresh ingredients from the garden, fresh pineapple juice and the soda adds a pop. It cools you down.

Q: What is it like here in the summer since this is the only time you're open?

A: It is extremely busy, a lot of people coming around from everywhere, and we get repeat customers who just love what we do here.

Oyster Club, 13 Water St, Mystic, is open daily from 5 to 9 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. for lunch. Information: 860-415-9266 and oysterclubct.com.