For many Milwaukee musicians, pursuing their passion isn’t enough to pay the bills—an additional day and/or night job is needed. (Note: This is true for most non-musicians, as well.) So what better gig to pursue than a bartender? You get to meet interesting people, and possibly snare an easy gig if the bar you work at happens to be a club. Plus, there’s beer. So much beer.
In honor of Milwaukee Beer Week, Milwaukee Record quizzed a few local musician-bartenders about the favorite beer, their least favorite beer, and their most memorable on-the-job moments that may or may not include topless patrons passing out on cheeseburgers.
Favorite beer: “I don’t really know if I have a favorite beer. I do get excited when Bells Oberon comes around, though. That’s a delicious warm weather beer. And it works really well (at getting me hammered). But really, nothing beats High Life. I’ll drink High Life forever. High Life is what I think of when I hear the word beer.”
Least favorite beer: “I won’t drink MGD. I remember it was the first beer I decided I hated. A long time ago I was drinking one and I was just like, ‘You know what? This sucks.’ As far as more local favorites, I’m always pretty happy with anything New Glarus offers. Especially Moon Man. New Glarus is consistently solid.”
Favorite beer: “I know this may disappoint a lot of people, but it’s Miller High Life.”
Least favorite beer: “I don’t really get why everyone freaks out about IPAs. Personally, I think they all taste like shit.”
Favorite bar that isn’t your employer: “Anywhere with a bowling alley. Because I like to bowl.”
Memorable on-the-job moment: “I was outside taking a break during a busy Saturday night shift when a group of people came into the bar. All but one of them had their ID. Everyone looked as though they were over 21, including the gentlemen that had left his ID at the last bar. The door guy that night informed me of the situation as I was walking outside and asked what I thought. As he asked, the gentlemen who forgot his ID said, ‘Who’s this cocksucker?’ To which the door guy replied, ‘Uh, that’s the bartender, dude.’ Dude started apologizing, but I had already made up my mind that there was no way this dude was coming in. He was upset, but his even his large group of friends understood that this is what I had to do. Dude was pissed but eventually walked away.
“Now this may not seem like a great story, but it’s worth noting that it was around Halloween, and Tyler (the other bartender) and I decided to wear Mario and Luigi costumes that night. So this dude was being kicked out of a bar by a 160-pound dude wearing a Luigi costume—hat and everything. Dude was begging me to get in and I was just shaking my head with my huge Luigi hat on being like, ‘No way, dude, you just called me a cocksucker.’”
Favorite beer: “To be honest, I don’t really drink a lot of beer. My go-to is High Life at Cactus and for bonfires. Bell’s Amber Ale every now and again.”
Memorable on-the-job moment: “Last Saturday, TJay and I worked Psych Fest. After ordering a Lakefront IPA, a geeky old man tried to score drugs by asking if could also get something ‘harder.’ I didn’t get it, and suggested Cowboy Whiskey or Powers. As he elaborated, shit got awkward.”
Favorite beer: “I really like Lakefront’s Riverwest Stein. It tastes great and makes me talk dumb. I used to live in one of the houses pictured on the label. I was a janitor across the street at the Polish Falcon.”
Least favorite beer: “Nothing at all against Leinenkugel’s, but that Summer Shandy is terrible. It tastes like Fruit Loops.”
Favorite beer: “After much thought, I’m choosing Founders Breakfast Stout, because it is perfect, readily available, and it instantly makes me insanely happy. It is seriously a mood changer.”
Least favorite beer: “Blue Moon is garbage. Spotted Cow is fine, but it’s probably my least favorite New Glarus beer. Try a Moon Man, jerks.”
Favorite bar that isn’t your employer: “Burnhearts and The Palm are the best bars in Milwaukee for pretty much the same reasons. They both have super knowledgeable bartenders, amazing selections, incredible decors, and owners that care the most. They also don’t have TVs, because they are above that shit. I like Burnhearts for more of an awesome party-zone. I like The Palm for more small group hangs.”
Memorable on-the-job moment: “I once kicked someone out for falling asleep on a cheeseburger while flashing the bar. It was the weirdest thing I have ever seen. Both her and her boyfriend got really mad at me and wanted to fight me until I was like, ‘Dude! She is asleep on a cheeseburger and I can see her vagina.’ Then they understood.
“Also, Sonic Youth came in once. That was cool.”
Favorite beer: “Miller High Life. You might be asking yourself, ‘Why would a bartender who has access to tasting all sorts of incredible beers choose Miller High Life?’ Well, because I like beer-flavored beer. I don’t need any fruit added, or cascade hops, or coffee, or unicorn tears. And I don’t need it aged in a barrel that at one time housed bourbon. Also, I know exactly how many High Lifes I need to drink to be drunk. How many times have you drank an amazing brew only to try and get up off your barstool and discover walking has suddenly become very difficult because that shit is 15% ABV? Essentially, you’re drinking wine at that point.
Least favorite beer: “That’s easy: IPAs. It’s as if there’s a contest to make the hoppiest, most bitter beer in the world right now. Give it a rest.”
Favorite beer: “Pabst. I’m pretty easy. I like the watery domestics. To be honest, I’d rather just have a shot of booze and a glass of water.”
Least favorite beer: “Well, since the regular domestics are my beer of choice, I can’t really throw stones. But for me, I can’t stand the skunky green bottle beers. I just don’t get it. How can you drink through that smell?”
Favorite bar that isn’t your employer: “I love Burnhearts for Happy Hour (especially in winter since it’s the coziest bar around), and I love Blackbird at night because I want to be in a loud, fun bar that doesn’t play dumb music. If I want food, I’m going to Palomino or Club G’s. The Uptowner is one of my favorite bars in Riverwest, and the Rails Inn and Redbar are awesome bars in St. Francis. I also wish the Circle A was right next to my house because that’s one of the greatest bars in the city! Really, there are just too many great places here to narrow it down.”
Memorable on-the-job moment: “Cactus, along with tons of other bars, has a cheap beer night where domestics are really cheap. I can’t tell you how many times people come in and ask what are the specials for the day: ‘Well, today we have $2 Pabst and Blatz.’ ‘Ugh. Yuck. Ummm, no thanks.’ Then he’ll laugh, and act all high and mighty like he would never, ever drink something so disgusting, and then without fail, the next thing he says is, ‘I’ll take a Miller Lite.’
“I can’t tell you how many times that happens. And like I said before, I’m not making fun of anyone for drinking watery domestics. Just don’t have an attitude about it like you’re some beer snob and order a Miller Lite. It’s the same shit.”