Best music-affiliated Twin Cities bartenders 2012

Best music-affiliated Twin Cities bartenders 2012
Photo by Cyn Collins

When you attend as many shows as the Gimme Noise folks do, you get to know your bartenders. Quite often, the person you see behind the bar is also a familiar face behind the bass, the guitar or drum kit. Among numerous musician and music-affiliated bartenders in this music city, here are a few I see regularly and consider to be the best in town -- in their music, music knowledge, network-building skills, as well as their mad skills mixing drinks, and encyclopaedic knowledge behind the bar.

Here are five of the Twin Cities' most crowd-pleasing bartenders, no matter the setting. 

Best music-affiliated Twin Cities bartenders 2012
Photo by Cyn Collins

Shön Phillip Troth
Bartender/server at Cause Spirits and Soundbar

Musician: Lap-steel guitar player and "guy who makes creepy sounds in the back" for Enemy Planes, Dream Crusher, Deceitful Lapwings, American North, White Bronco (a new band in the works) and more!

What do you like about working at Cause?

Shön Troth: I pick up shifts - so it's something different every time. Sometimes bartending, sometimes serving, sometimes the door. It's home, to me.

What's your favorite drink to make?

Pimm's Cup. I like to muddle. And I like bitters.

What is your approach to bartending?

It's making everybody feel like they're at their fave place or like they're at home. It can be their place to disappear. I like to make them feel like it's their bar.

What do you feel is the connectivity between being a musician and bartending?

I think its cool because everybody follows each other, visits each other... like Solid Gold talks about me working at Nick and Eddie in the past. Its nice to visit friends where they work. I visit Cecil at Muddy Waters... It's a communal thing. Communal is really the word for it. All of us are doing it. We're promoting each other's shows while we're bartending. Being a musician and bartender go hand-in-hand.

Who is White Bronco?

That hasn't happened yet. It will soon. We're waiting for a call from Phillip Morris, to find out when he comes back to town. He's in it. It's also Sean Anonymous and Lizzo (The Chalice), and guys in Dream Crusher - Dominic Hanft, Mo McNichols, Brian McDonough, Brock Lammers and Mitch Miller. We are all writing songs together, rather than only one person.

Deceitful Lapwings at Cause, Wednesday, December 19 at 9 p.m.

Enemy Planes at Rock The Cause 5th Anniversary Bash: A Careless Whisper! A Tribute to George Michael and WHAM! At the Crooked Pint Ale House December 21 at 9 p.m.

Best music-affiliated Twin Cities bartenders 2012
Photo by Cyn Collins

Jonathan Kennedy
Bartender, Sound and Booking at Palmer's Bar
Programming Host of KFAI The Minnesota Sound Fridays 7-9 p.m.

Musician: Guitarist/bass-player/horns Mr. Hide and Fortified Five and Richard Lloyd Trio

When do you bartend at Palmer's and what do you like about it?

Thursdays I bartend and do sound simultaneously and booking. I sometimes bartend other nights. I want to make Thursdays the cool night for music. The hours are pretty cool. I don't have to get here until 9 p.m. and we close at 2 a.m., so I can stay up all night and do my thing. Its fun working at Palmer's because it's kind of a central spot. We do have music but it's known more as a bar, so when we do have music, it's more special. While I'm bartending, I get to meet local musicians and the shows just kind of set themselves up because people want to play here and it happens pretty naturally.

Have you had any favorite bartending moments?

When Nick the Feelin' advanced on The Voice to the top three, Lisa [Hammer] had me make shots for the bar -- so that was 23 shots at once. That was an exciting challenge! They were Water Moccasins -- Crown Royal, Peach Schnapps and pineapple juice.

[Note: Nick "the Feelin'" Mrozinski played weekly Sundays at Palmer's for two to three years.]

What's your favorite drink to make?

I like making Bloody Marys. We don't have a mix and so I have to make them on the spot. There are like five or six things we have here to add, like real horseradish, Louisiana hot sauce, lots of types of vodka, but Absolut Peppar works really well with it. Pickle juice, Worcestershire sauce and black pepper for a garnish. That's a fun one, except when it's too busy, then it can be kind of annoying, so it's got to be like the right time.

What's the status of Mr. Hide and Fortified Five, and Mr. Lloyd Trio?

Fortified Five are getting back together! Friday at the Turf Club is going to be our return show. Mr. Hide hasn't been playing many shows, but in January we have five or six shows. The Richard Lloyd Trio is on hiatus for now. We might tour in March, but its up in the air. It was fun playing with him this summer. It was a really cool experience. He has so much history. He knows everyone and has been everywhere. And he's got a body of work to show for it too. We learned 50-60 songs and that was just scratching the surface. A really cool guy!

Megapocalypto Freakin' Jamboree 2012! Fe: Moonstone Continuum, Fortified Five, Larry Wish and His Guys, Miami Dolphins and Montgomery Ward at Turf Club December 21, 2012 at 9

Best music-affiliated Twin Cities bartenders 2012
Photo by Cyn Collins

Tony Zaccardi
Bartender at Grumpy's Northeast

Musician: Kruddler (bass-player/vocalist) and Romantica (bass-player)

How long have you worked at Grumpy's NE? What do you like the most about working there?

I have worked at Grumpy's NE for nearly 13 of the 15 years that it has been open. Aside from my house, it is my favorite place on earth. Working or not. I love the community of folks that make up that place. Customers that I see just about every shift that I work, and co-workers alike. I have 6-10 hours per day of random quick interactions with people I like. I met my wife there, and know several others that met and got married thru Grumpy's NE. Our little family are some of the most genuine people you'll ever meet. That is solely due to our chief, Pat Dwyer. I also pride myself on remembering who drinks what. I have remembered drinks from strangers six months later.

What is your favorite drink to serve? What's your approach?

I love introducing people to local craft beer. Let 'em taste it! I want people to come up to the bar and leave happy. I try to be the bartender that I want to get a beer from. There with a story or a quip when needed, and easy going and out of the way at other times. If you want a Bloody Mary at 1 a.m. on a Friday, you might get a little sass, but I will serve it with a smile.

Do you feel there is any connectivity between being a musician and serving at Grumpy's as a bartender?

I've been playing music onstage for two decades now, and I learned early on that people came to shows to be entertained. Not to watch you fail. It quelled the nerves. Behind the bar the same principle applies. I want our quick interaction to be a friendly one. Give your customer what they want, or help them decide, and make sure that they leave happy, or at least satisfied.

You likely see a lot of musician friends come in -- what are your favorite aspects of that?

I see and have met tons of musicians from behind the bar. We've been ardent supporters of local music since day one. Since we're not a music venue, we find other ways to incorporate that. Any given night, we could have so & so playing records, and maybe they just sold out the mainroom last week. It's a social thing. I love introducing people to each other. That happens often. You never know who is going to walk through the door. That to me is the funnest part. It could be Har Mar, or the guy from Tool. It could be Solid Gold or Jon Spencer.

You're in Kruddler and Romantica... what's the status of your music, any shows coming up?

Kruddler has been on hiatus since July. We've been a band since 1995. I imagine we'll fire back up this spring. I miss those guys and those songs. Romantica recently helped make Ben Kyle's new record. I hope to finish writing my own album before too long.

David has his tongue out on the lower left.
David has his tongue out on the lower left.

David Roper
Bar Manager at Amsterdam Bar and Hall

Musician: The Blind Shake

How long have you worked at Amsterdam, and what do you like about it?

I've worked at Amsterdam officially since September 2011, but I was involved earlier on with the planning and the build. I worked the 331 Club and 501 Club prior to that, so I've been with the same owners for much longer than a year and a half. I like working at Amsterdam because we have great music, great food, and really great drinks. I also really enjoy the staff, which is full of artists like myself. The owners are very supportive and really great about accommodating all our crazy schedules.

What's your favorite drink to serve?

I'm a total beer geek, so I love introducing people to new and interesting brews. I also love creating cocktails, and do so any chance I get. I really enjoy making martini-style drinks and muddled drinks... very classic bartending.

What's your approach?

My approach has always been to go with the flow. Bartending can be stressful at times, and very relaxed at others . . . sometimes within the same night. I always try to stay busy, do the best I can, and make sure all the customer's needs are met.

Do you feel there is any connectivity between being a musician and bartending at Amsterdam?

We have live music at Amsterdam 6-7 days a week, so I constantly get to meet new artists, see new bands, and hear styles of music I would probably never have a chance to hear otherwise. I feel connected to the music and arts community, both through my coworkers and through the musicians that perform at Amsterdam.

You likely see a lot of musician friends come in - what are your favorite aspects of that?

I love when my musician friends come to Amsterdam. It gives me a chance to interact with them on a different level than we do at shows.

What's the status of your music, any shows, and new records?

We're working on a couple different projects, including a new Blind Shake album. A new 7" should be coming out any day now on SweetRot records. We got in to SXSW again this year, and will be going to Austin in March.

The Blind Shake with Birthday Suits, STNNNG, and Seawhores at Turf Club January 5th, 2013 at 9 p.m.

Best music-affiliated Twin Cities bartenders 2012
Photo by Cyn Collins

Erich Cornett
Bartender Grumpy's Northeast and Downtown

Music: Aficionado affiliated with Blundertown, based in L.A. and Learning Curve Records

How long have you worked at Grumpy's and what do you like about it?

I've worked here 15 years. Its family. They're not like my blood, but I consider these people part of my family. They respect their employees. They're good people. When you surround yourself with good people, you're not going anywhere. Grumpy's is owned by Amphetamine Reptile record label people. Its great -- I get to meet a lot of cool people.

What's one of your favorite moments working at Grumpy's?

Meeting the Melvins was a big deal to me. That was about ten years ago. I loved the Melvins before I knew they were connected with Am Rep and Grumpy's.

What's your favorite drink to serve?

Whiskey! Anything Irish, and bourbons.

What do you look for in music you like?

Anything that catches my ear. Something different. But I do like pop hooks. And deconstructed, sounds really good. I really like noise punk.

How are you connected with Learning Curve Records?

Rainer, the owner, is my best friend. Every once in awhile when their bands play a festival I go and help them sell merch, travel with them. I've been to Texas with them, went to the Sled Island festival with them in Calgary.

And Blundertown, in L.A. (who has booked bands such as Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, Black Lips to major shows)?

My sister Shannon owns Blundertown. She got me the Coachella Cruise for my birthday. I leave tomorrow for it. It goes from Miami to Jamaica and back. I got the best presidential suite and it's pretty awesome! I get to see Pulp! I'm excited about that. And I get to see Black Lips again!

Honorable mentions who I hope to talk to for next year: Dillinger Four's Billy Morrissette (Triple Rock and Muddy Waters) and Paddy Costello (Grumpy's DT)

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