Drinks with Larry Birdsong
10:24 AM, Mar 07, 2013
Name: Larry Birdsong.
Bar: Pittsford Pub.
Residence: East Rochester. I have been in Rochester since May of 1993. I’m originally from Texas.
Did you go to college? Yes, I have a bachelor’s in journalism from Texas State University and a master’s in education from Shenandoah University.
How did you get into bartending? By accident. I moved here from New York City. That is where I learned to tend bar. … It took about three months before my mentor, a man named Harold Hallam, decided to teach me. I am glad he did. … He gave me not only technical expertise, but also the big picture from the owner’s perspective.
How long have you been at your bar? It will be 20 years in May.
Assuming you frequent your bar, where would you go for drinks if the place shut down? This is an interesting question. … Most people like to become familiar with a place and then be recognized by the employees. They enjoy a relaxing cocktail after work or before dinner. If the bartender remembers them it is all for the better. I visit bars for inspiration. I am constantly trying to upgrade my skill set. For that kind of stimulation, I have to go out of my comfort zone.
What’s the craziest thing that you’ve seen at your bar? One night, a cow got loose from the dairy next door. I had patrons and employees trying to herd the animal. Then someone tried to ride it. I laughed so hard my sides hurt.
What’s your least favorite drink to pour and why? I really don’t have a least favorite drink to make. That being said, some cocktails take more time than others. If my bar is really cranking, making a hot coffee drink takes me away from the bar for a minute. During that same amount of time, I could make five cocktails. If the bar isn’t slammed, then it is no problem.
What drink do you pour the most? Indian Pale Ales are hot right now.
What mixed drink do you make the most? Probably a Cape Codder. It is a simple, yet classic cocktail.
How much should I be tipping and why? I am happy with 20 percent, but I don’t obsess about the money. At the end of the night, I count it and the people always take care of me. I’ve got a great job listening to music while I work. How many people can say that?
Is there a song on the jukebox or radio that you hate? I like a wide variety of music, but I pay attention to the crowd. If I have a group of 40ish businessmen at the bar and some kid plays screamo/death metal on the jukebox, it is not good. By the same token, if it is late, the energy is high, and my crowd is in their 20s, a slow love song can make the room deflate.
What’s the quickest way to get a bartender to hate me? Throw something at him.
What’s the quickest way to get great service? Smile.
Can you share any hangover cures? Hangover cures are like diet pills they don’t work. Don’t drink to excess. Pace yourself and drink plenty of water. Eat something.
Do you have a full-time or other job? Tending bar is my full-time occupation; although, I do some private tutoring: I teach English as a second language. Different cultures have always interested me.
Ever gone home with a customer? Not since I met the woman I married 22 years ago.
What do you love best about your job? The diversity. The challenge. I believe society needs a place to let off steam, to relax and to meet new people. I am happy to provide that service.