Behind the Bar

Bartenders see it all, for better or worse. They see sober people, completely drunk people, nice people, rude people, picky people, knowledgeable people, cluess people, and everything in between.

Who better to give us a look into the human condition, and what it's like behind the bar, than barkeeps themselves? We turned to our local tenders and mixologists to ask them a few burning questions.

Mike Campbell
General Manager of The Meanwhile

Biggest pet peeve?

When people ask, “Do you have long islands? 

Do you have gin and tonics?” I don’t keep them in a jug, but can definitely make one for you. Also, when people hold their phone up to show me a recipe off the internet and ask, “Can you make this?” And people that sit at the bar and make out like they are on their couch.

Favorite part of bartending?

I like to treat people like they are at my home, so seeing someone have a good time makes me smile. I love to talk and joke around with people. I tend to talk to anyone as if I have known them for years, even if I just met them. Makes the shifts go by faster.

Go-to drink?

Used to be anything in a glass bottle or aluminum can, but now it is COFFEE!

Does a person’s order say anything about them?

The way they order it says a lot about someone. For example, you should never snap your fingers or wave your money around or shout your order in my general direction. It’s the polite person who makes eye contact with me that gets the latest service.

Caitie Key & Cait Arnold
Blue Dog Tavern Manager & Bartender

Pet peeve?

CK: Running out of product. Not a fan of disappointing guests.
CA: Rude people.

Favorite part of bartending?

CK: Being a "welcome home" to anyone and everyone. For at least a little while, while the guest is at my bar, they feel welcomed and taken care of. I really enjoy taking care of people.
CA: The people. All the people I come in contact with. Staff, customers, and other people in the industry.

Does someone's go-to drink say anything about them?

CK: Oh, sure! A lot of drink choices are influenced by friends or fads. My favorite guests are the consistent ones. It’s nice to have their drinks ready without them asking.
CA: Sometimes I think so, yes. It gives you a quick glimpse into their favorite things. A lot of times, a favorite drink comes from a past memory.

What's your own go-to drink lately?

CK: Almost 1 year sober, woohoo! We have something at Blue Dog we call a Rusty Bomb: Orange Juice, Cranberry, and Tropical Red Bull.
CA: Casamigos tequila and soda, lately.

Favorite other watering hole?

CK: Elbow Room and 5th Street Hall.
CA: Putt Putt's, hands down!

Aaron O'Guinn
Bartender at Turnstiles

Biggest pet peeve?

Impatience. There’s nothing worse than having someone yell at you or snap their fingers to get attention while you’re busy helping other patrons. Those who are patient and understand will get better, faster service 100% of the time.

Favorite part of bartending?

Definitely meeting new faces and getting to know people from all walks of life. People typically go to the bar to enjoy themselves and it’s always a great feeling to facilitate that experience.

Does a person’s order say something about them?

I know many people, including myself, who change it up depending on the setting or mood. However, I do get some pretty atrocious orders and oftentimes the order matches the drinker. Stop drinking Long Islands. 

Your go-to drink?

Nothing beats a cold cheap beer after a hard day’s work. If I’m out to dinner or feeling a bit fancier, I typically order whiskey-based cocktails.

Your favorite watering hole?

Logan’s Alley for sure. The place has the perfect small town dive aesthetic while still offering an outstanding and extensive craft beer selection. It’s been the meet-up spot for my friends and I for many years now.

Andrew Ramirez
Head Bartender of Buffalo Trader's Lounge

What’s your biggest pet peeve as a bartender?

“Whats good here?” Everything, we don’t put shitty things on the menu.

What’s your favorite part of bartending?

You may not believe it from the last answer, but working with people while giving myself an outlet to be creative. Honestly, there’s not a better feeling than making a cocktail and watching them love their first sip. 

Do you think the drink a person orders says something about them?

Yes and no. Sometimes, if someone orders a drink without even looking at the menu, I think that is more telling. They are more set in their ways, not willing to explore or experiment. I think that says more than their actual order. 

What’s your own
go-to drink?

Currently, I’ve been sticking to Averna (amaro) and soda, just simple, easy and gets the job done.

What’s your favorite watering hole that isn’t your own place of work?

Depends on the mood. Lately I’ve been between Winchester, Little Bird, and 5th Street Hall. 

Patrick Carter, Rebecca Nowakowski & Joe Rodriguez
Bartenders at The Pyramid Scheme

Biggest pet peeve?

PC: Not giving your entire drink order to the
bartender at once, it slows the whole process down.

RN: People flagging me down and then having no idea what they want to drink. 

JR: Stupid questions. 

Favorite part of bartending?

PC: When one of my favorite bands is playing on stage. 

RN: Working in the venue and being able to see live music. 

JR: Tending the bar. 

Does a person’s order mean anything?

PC: Yes, typically it tells me how long they’ve been going to a bar or if they’ve ever worked in a bar. If someone comes in and orders a PBR and a shot of Jameson, chances are they just got done with their bartending shift, as opposed to someone who orders a margarita, they’re out with the weekend warriors. 

RN: I can usually spot somebody that works in the service industry right away by their drink order. It’s usually a beer and a shot. 

JR: No, I don’t think it does. 

Go-to drink?

PC: Modelo and a shot of tequila. 

RN: Shot of tequila and a beer. 

JR: Milwaukee’s Best Ice and a shot of gin. 

Fave other watering hole?

PC: Logan’s Alley. 

RN: Monarch’s. 

JR: Fulton Street Pub.

Catina Lynam & Tatum Tithof
Bartenders at Social House

Biggest pet peeve?

TT: When people get mean, when I’m not getting to them “fast enough.” 

CL: When the bar is messy. 

Favorite part of bartending?

TT: My coworkers, and when guests are super nice. 

CL: Being busy, so I don’t have to talk to people. 

Does a person’s order say anything?

TT: Yes. If a college student orders a tequila Red Bull, they are probably a psycho. 

CL: Yes, vodka soda… basic. 

Your go-to drink?

TT: High noon or paloma. 

CL: Old fashioned or mint julep. 

Favorite watering hole?

TT: Joey’s Tavern. 

CL: Rockwell/Republic.