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Belly Up interviews our favorite bartenders around town. This week, it's Aaron Irwin of the Auld Shebeen. Got a bartender you think we should interview? Email candrews at washingtonian.com. By Sonia Harmon
Aaron Irwin tends bar at Old Town Fairfax bar, the Auld Shebeen.

It’s 11 AM on a Friday morning and I’m sitting in my favorite Old Town Fairfax bar, the Auld Shebeen (3971 Chain Bridge Rd., Fairfax; 703-293-9600). I’m preparing for my interview with bartender Aaron Irwin, 32, who asks if I want something to drink. Still in my late-night bar mindset, I think, “He can’t be serious,” and politely decline. A couple of minutes later, he pulls up a chair with a soda in his hand and a smile on his face, and I start to realize just how quickly this family-friendly restaurant and bar transforms itself into the alcohol-infused, music-pumping Thursday-night dance spot I know and love.

Having bartended for ten years, nearly three of them at the Auld Shebeen, Aaron knows all aspects of this Fairfax favorite—from the Irish-music performances to Thursday night’s college crowd to the restaurant regulars. Here he tells us about the bar and what it’s like to be a part of the staff as well as his plans to take his love for music and restaurant management to the next level.

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Posted at 06:00 AM/ET, 07/08/2008 | Permalink | Comments ()
Belly Up interviews our favorite bartenders around town. This week, it's Adam Bernbach of Bar Pilar. Got a bartender you think we should interview? Email candrews at washingtonian.com. By Elizabeth Farrell

Adam doing his thing behind the bar at Bar Pilar.
It’s 2 PM when bartender Adam Bernbach lets me into Bar Pilar on DC’s 14th Street. Patrons won’t start filling the bar stools and wooden tables until 5, and Bernbach won’t leave until after 3 in the morning. Quiet and humble, he says working at Bar Pilar has allowed him to do what he’s passionate about: creating cocktails.

Bernbach is the force behind Bar Pilar’s Tuesday Cocktail Sessions—evenings that not only allow him to stretch his creative legs but are also becoming a weekly hit with area bartenders and customers alike. Every Tuesday, five new cocktails of Bernbach’s invention are featured, such as the Orange Whip (spiced rum, orange juice, spiced orange syrup, half-and-half, and egg white—shaken) or the Bizzy Lizzy (ancho-chile-infused Gosling’s Gold rum, chocolate mole, cream, and soda water shaken, strained, and topped with soda water). All speciality cocktails are $11, and if you enjoy one, he can make it for you anytime if the ingredients are available.

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Posted at 07:21 AM/ET, 03/04/2008 | Permalink | Comments ()
Belly Up interviews our favorite bartenders around town. Got a suggestion for a bartender we should interview? Email it to candrews at washingtonian.com. By Alejandro Salinas

Want to see more photos from Washington events and parties? Click here for Washingtonian.com's photo slideshow page. 

With its quaint portraits of women and a Goethe-inspired staircase that reads “We are shaped and fashioned by what we love,” Nellie’s (900 U St., NW; 202-332-6335) isn’t your typical sports bar. Then again, the Foosball table, scoreboards, and multiple ESPN-tuned TVs don’t exactly spell out “gay bar”—which is what Nellie’s is as well. An earlier visit to the bar during the DC United/LA Galaxy soccer match revealed a curious collection of people, all gathered together by the love of the sport, the promise of watching Brit sensation David Beckham play, and a craving for the bar’s signature sliders.

Bartender Benjamin Gander has been working at Nellie’s since this sophisticated-looking bar—which once served as a photography studio for Addison Scurlock and is a block away from the 9:30 Club—opened in early July. Gander, an Arizona native, talks about Nellie’s unique blend of customers and fills us in on his favorite sports, drinks, and hangouts.

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Posted at 01:15 PM/ET, 02/28/2008 | Permalink | Comments ()
Belly Up interviews our favorite bartenders around town. Got a bartender you think we should interview? Email candrews at washingtonian.com. By Alejandro Salinas

Want to see more photos from Washington events and parties? Click here for Washingtonian.com's photo slideshow page. 

Dan Searing is used to wearing many hats. He’s been a server and worked at a newspaper, and now— depending on the day and his availability—he’s a musician, DJ, bartender, whiskey connoisseur, and history buff. Did I mention he’s also general manager at Temperance Hall (3634 Georgia Ave., NW; 202-722-7669)? In fact, it’s in his current position as head of this 1920s-inspired bar, where history is seamlessly woven in with the modern, that Searing’s talents and abilities come together.

When not searching high and low for unusual spirits or trying to get together with former bandmates, Searing tries to catch up on his music—he just bought the new M.I.A and Rilo Kiley. Luckily, he also had some time to sit down for an interview.

When did you start bartending?


I got started through my friend Kristaps Kreslins who is the owner of Pharmacy Bar. He thought I’d be good at waiting tables and invited me to work one night a week at his bar. At the time, I was working as City Lights editor at the Washington City Paper. A short time later, I left my job at the City Paper and ended up getting into the restaurant business full-time—at first kind of as a stopgap, as many people do, but I soon found myself making it my career.

You’re the general manager here. Why do you still bartend?


Well, it was kind of the brief I was given when I took the job. One of the owners here is Joe Englert, and one of the thing he likes to have his managers do, especially in the beginning, is have their finger on the pulse of the place and be more actively involved in the daily operations—down to serving drinks to customers.

Sometimes it’s a little difficult wearing the manager’s hat and the bartender’s hat at the same time, but it’s also not an uncommon thing in bars and restaurants throughout the world: The bartender is traditionally a person who has to take care of other things besides making drinks.

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Posted at 01:14 PM/ET, 02/28/2008 | Permalink | Comments ()
Belly Up interviews our favorite bartenders around town. Got a bartender you think we should interview? Email candrews at washingtonian.com. By Alejandro Salinas

Does talk about a 30-to-80-cent Metro fare hike make you want to drink? Cry? Both? Here’s our suggestion: Skip the tears and head to IndeBleu (707 G St., NW; 202-333-2538), and—while you still can—put those extra cents to better use by indulging in the ultimate city fantasy: a Metro ride that leaves you wasted rather than penniless.

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Posted at 01:12 PM/ET, 02/28/2008 | Permalink | Comments ()
Belly Up is a regular series of interviews with favorite bartenders around town. Got a suggestion for a bartender we should interview? E-mail it to candrews@washingtonian.com. By Whitney Spivey

Greg Brooks leans forward on the bar—his bar—contemplating the upcoming Redskins season. “I’m cautiously optimistic,” he says with a smile. His blue eyes twinkle as he predicts a ten-and-six record for the squad, assuming “Jason Campbell stays healthy and they can keep Mark Brunell as far from the field as possible.”

The Skins aren’t the only team Brooks supports. For 12 years, the DC native has worked closely with the group at Cafe Mozart (1331 H St., NW; 202-347-5732; cafemozartonline.com), a German restaurant, bar, and deli where he’s an invaluable member of the staff and a friend to many regular customers.

Brooks’s taproom is tucked into the center of Cafe Mozart, between the deli and the restaurant. To reach the bar, you pass by a case of gourmet meats and an aisle stocked floor to ceiling with chocolate truffles, mustards, sausages, and other German goods. What you find at the other end is cold German beer and good conversation. “I joke with my customers all the time,” Brooks says. “I have a terrible sense of humor, but I try and make people feel like they’re at home and having a good time.”

With 26 years of bartending under his belt, here’s what Brooks has to say about his job.

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Posted at 12:57 PM/ET, 02/28/2008 | Permalink | Comments ()
Belly Up interviews our favorite bartenders around town. This week, it's the charming Kim Moffatt of the Reef. Got a bartender you think we should interview? Email candrews at washingtonian.com. By Alejandro Salinas

Want to see more photos from Washington events and parties? Click here for Washingtonian.com's photo slideshow page. 

In photographs, Kim Moffatt appears to be barely at the cusp of adulthood. Her eyes sparkle with a gleeful mischief more characteristic of a collegiate undergrad than of a seasoned bartender. Her voice is so warm and sweet, it calls to mind a batch of freshly baked chocolate-chip cookies. Not that 28-year-old Moffat, who does double duty as bartender and pastry chef at the Reef (2446 18th St., NW; 202-518-3800), would like the comparison. “I don’t like making cookies,” she confesses. “I love eating them and they’re easy to make, but I hate baking them.” What’s her problem with cookies? “Christmas comes around and you know you have to bake 50 dozen cookies because you’re ‘the baker.’ ” Fair enough.

At the Adams Morgan bar where she serves drinks to rowdy weekend crowds of twentysomethings, patrons and coworkers call Moffatt “Kim Kimmers,” and she’s got her very own Facebook fan group. The group, Moffatt clarifies, is something of a joke among her close friends, but with her infectious personality and killer looks, it’s no wonder this Atlanta native has won a steady stream of followers.

How long have you been working at the Reef?

Four and a half years—so a long time. I waited tables and worked my way up to bartending. It took three years to get behind the bar because pretty much someone has to die or quit in order for you to get to bartend. I like it; it’s good. I’m not planning on going anywhere else.

When did you start working as the pastry chef?

That’s just been recent. The girl who was the pastry chef here quit, and the chef asked me if I wanted to do it. I’ve been baking forever and I go to culinary school, so it was just a good way to keep in practice. Eventually I want to own my own bakery and then a patisserie where you come in, have good wine and beer, and eat fabulous desserts.

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Posted at 12:55 PM/ET, 02/28/2008 | Permalink | Comments ()
Belly Up interviews our favorite bartenders around town. This week, it's Patrick Manili of the Red Derby. Got a bartender you think we should interview? Email candrews at washingtonian.com. By Alejandro Salinas

The Red Derby: Small bartender, big beer selection.
“This is weird, man” says Patrick Manili seconds into our interview at the Red Derby (3718 14th St., NW; 202-291-5000) as he nervously smokes a cigarette by the bar. Maybe it’s the tape recorder I hold up almost too close to him, or maybe the formality of a “serious” interview seems all the more jarring to him because we’ve actually known each other for some time now. Whatever the case, Manili’s trepidation is all but gone by the time he exhales.

I first met Manili back in October, when the Red Derby first opened. Since then, like countless other twentysomethings living in the Columbia Heights/Petworth area, I’ve become a regular at the bar. The Derby, as everyone who knows and loves the place seems to call it, is laden with eccentricities—the absence of an outdoor sign, the cash-only policy, and the can beers—that distinguish the place as our bar rather than just a bar. This sense of familiarity with the place is partly the doing of owners Sasha Carter and David Leventry and part Manili’s.

As the Derby’s bartender, Manili is the kind of guy who naturally draws crowds of men and women. Guys like his sense of humor and endless stream of stories, and he seems to have a quality that women really respond to. His ease behind the bar, Manili suggests, may be the result of a predisposed affinity for the business: “My dad did this for 30 years. It was the only thing I really enjoyed besides movies, and who’s going to get a job in the movie business? That’s damn near impossible.”

Hollywood’s loss is the Red Derby’s gain.

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Posted at 12:54 PM/ET, 02/28/2008 | Permalink | Comments ()
Belly Up is a series of interviews with our favorite bartenders around town. Got a suggestion for a bartender we should interview? E-mail it to Catherine Andrews at candrewsatwashingtoniandotcom. By Whitney Spivey

Although Tommy Mensing’s professional golf career came to an end after an unsuccessful attempt at the 1997 PGA tour, the University of Maryland graduate has found the perfect way to incorporate golf—in fact, all sports—into his life. Mensing is bar manager at Cleveland Park Bar & Grill (3421 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-806-8940). His late hours allow him to squeeze in a morning golf game before an afternoon at the restaurant. Once at work, Mensing is clearly at home behind the bar—whether pouring drinks, speaking Spanish to the kitchen staff, or cheering on his Terps.

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Posted at 06:55 AM/ET, 02/01/2008 | Permalink | Comments ()
This weekend is the end of an era for Arlington bar Dr. Dremo's. Read on for where they might be next, how you can get your own Dremo's memento (one word: auction) and much more. By Jasmine Touton
After 15 years of service, Dr. Dremo's Tap House will shut its doors this Sunday.


Fans of Arlington favorite Dr. Dremo’s Tap House converged to sip their final Dremo’s Redneck Ales and shake hands with friends on the bar’s second-to-last Sunday night in its current Clarendon Boulevard location.

“There’s a much larger crowd here than on most Sunday nights,” said Greg Kitsock, a Washington Post beer columnist, editor of the Mid-Atlantic Brewing News, and once-a-week Dremo’s regular. “It’s kind of the end of an era.”

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Posted at 09:15 AM/ET, 01/25/2008 | Permalink | Comments ()