Behind the Bar – Russ Berry
208 Queen Street
Old Town Alexandria
How did you get started in the bartending business?
I used to do the Ghost Tours here in Old Town. One night after a particularly gruesome high school tour group, I decided to blow off some steam with a few frosty brews. While getting mildly inebriated at Bilbo Baggins I struck up a conversation with a man next to me. I was category five whining about my job and my life. The guy turned out to be the owner. He liked my style, and brought me on board. Then eight years flew by and here we are.
What is your biggest bartender pet peeve?
I have a bell hanging in my bar. It is not a small quiet bell. People get loaded and “ring my bell.” Then I throw them out on the curb like a javelin.
What is the cleverest line anyone has ever used to get you to give them a free drink?
Girl. “Soooo… Can I get a free beer?”
Me. “Sure… somewhere else.”
Girl. “But I’m already here… Where is somewhere else?”
Me. “Anywhere but here.”
Girl. “But isn’t this somewhere else if I’m anywhere but here?”
Free Beer Given.
What is the best/worst pickup line you have overheard at the bar?
“You are the angel that gives my spirit license to soar. Also, can I buy you a beer?”
Tell us about an interesting encounter you have had with a customer(s).
One night I was flipping the stools around 11:30 when there was a tender tap on the door from a girl in a wedding dress in the middle of winter all by herself. I opened the door and let her in because it was freezing. She said “I don’t want to bother you… I see that you’re closing. But I just got married and we really love this place. Do you think some of my friends could just come in for a quick beer?” Without a seconds hesitation I said “Of course!” Because weddings rock. Five minutes later 150 people walk into my 20 seat bar and I was washing glasses until sunrise. Possibly the most fun I’ve ever had bartending.
If you could sit down and have a drink with anyone in the world, past or present, who would that be?
Shakespeare. I want to see how middle English pans out with an intoxicated slur from the bard’s tongue. I also want to party like its 1599.
Russ is behind the bar Friday through Tuesday nights until close.
Written by: Lani Gering
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