Featured bartender: Sarah Brittman of The Irish Pub and The Gig
For Sarah Brittman, life on either side of the bar suits her well. The easy-going barkeep has intense, blue eyes, an easy smile and the gift of conversation. The combination of these traits, along with her ability to pour a good drink, keep the regulars coming back to both of her establishments.
Brittman works at The Gig, 1132 E. Wright St., and The Irish Pub, 124 N. water St., and recently, we stopped in at The Irish Pub to have a couple of pints of Guinness and chat with her about, among other topics, fair tipping, the appeal of Riverwest and whether or not she was wearing her Slayer T-shirt ironically.
OnMilwaukee.com: How long have you been a bartender?
Sarah Brittman: For about a year. This is my first legit bartending job. I also work at The Gig.
OMC: Are the two bars similar or different or both?
SB: They are completely different. Here, there is so much variety, especially depending on whether I'm working during the day or night. So many different people come here: from Water Street, MIAD students, Third Ward. This is a fun bar.
I like The Gig, too. It's way more chill, with a lot of neighborhood regulars.
OMC: What do you like about tending bar?
SB: I like interacting with people. I really enjoy working during the day. You can really talk to people more. The regulars during the day come specifically to talk with the bartender, whereas at night, people come in groups, talk to one another and just want to get their drink on. There are at least 10 people who visit me on a regular basis, just to hang out.
OMC: What's your signature drink?
SB: A shot of Powers. I'm a beer, shot and whiskey kind of girl. I know handcrafted cocktails and other fancy drinks are popular now, but I like to keep it simple.
OMC: Where do you hang out when you're not working?
SB: The Uptowner. My friends works there.
OMC: Do you live in Riverwest?
SB: I do. And I love everything about it. It's like a small community where everyone is so different. I've lived there for about 10 years and I don't think I could live anywhere else in Wisconsin.
OMC: Ever have to cut people off? How do you do it?
SB: Yeah, I've had to do it, but not often. I give people a chance to make it normal, but if they can't, I'll give 'em a little shove out the door. Luckily, they can't remember if that happens.
OMC: Do people bring up the M&M Club often? (The Irish Pub was formerly a popular gay bar and restaurant called the M&M Club).
SB: Yes, a lot of people start a conversation talking about when this place was the M&M Club. I was not of age during that era, so I never got a chance to see what it was like.
OMC: Are you really a Slayer fan of are you wearing that T-shirt ironically?
SB: I'm really a Slayer fan. My father was a pastor and we came to Milwaukee as missionaries, so I liked Slayer when I was younger because it made me feel evil. I really got religion beat into my brain and I just didn't wanna have it.
OMC: So the name of this place is The Irish Pub? That's it?
SB: Yep, it's "Thee" Irish Pub. Try not to confuse it with the 80 other Irish pubs in Milwaukee.
OMC: What's Irish about this place?
SB: Aside from the Irish writing on the building? We have a lot of whiskeys, and some of our food items are Irish (fish 'n' chips, Guinness stew, Irish nachos) and on St. Patty's Day it's nuts in here. It's also a sports bar, though. It's a Kansas bar and a Michigan State bar and a Marquette bar.
OMC: Ever receive any funny or disgusting pick-up lines?
SB: Only from coworkers.
OMC: What is a reasonable tip?
SB: I think $1 per drink. Or I'll tip $5 for the night. On St. Patty's I made a lot of money and then I was tipping people $20. But that was bad news for me.
Are you wearing that Slayer shirt ironically because us hipsters usually like cool bands like Dawes and such
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