January's Bartender of the Month:
Pourer of drinks for Happy Hour at Casey's Irish Bar.
613 S Grand Ave - DTLA
Our current favorite bartender.
The HHC Team crossed paths with Kwame way back in March of 2017. He caught our attention (and kept it) weeks before the iconic Casey's Irish Pub national St. Patrick's Day Block Party.
His professional courting of all guests and his familiar sense of morals is what makes Casey's the Irish Pub that everyone flocks to.
His passion for whiskey is what makes him the best behind the bar. Casey's pours the most Jameson in SoCal so it's safe to say he is at home.
That sense of home is also what he evokes in you when drinking one (or a few) back at Casey's. Ever since we met him he had us locked tight as regulars of the Happy Hour at this staple DTLA Irish Pub and after reading this, you will be too.
Our one on one with Kwame:
We got to sit down with Kwame over Jameson infused cocktails and pickle back shots. He let us in on his story, what bars he frequents when he isn't at Casey's, and the few bar tricks he has mastered over time.
HHC: Where were you born?
KM: I was born right here in sunny California, Inglewood to be exact.
HHC: Where do you currently reside?
KM: After being raised in Inglewood, and having lived throughout LA, Silverlake and Culver City, I’m back to my hometown once again. A lot of good things are happening there and happy to be back.
HHC: How long have you been a bartender?
KM: A looong time, last time I checked, 15 years.
HHC: When did you know you wanted to be a bartender?
KM: I realized I wanted to be a bartender after running a family coffee shop. I came from an IT background prior to that and was interested in social environments and being in those dynamics work-wise. I was sheltered from them being in the office in my early twenties. I didn’t want to continue being isolated, so I chose a career that allowed me to eavesdrop on the pulse of the community.
HHC: What’s your favorite drink to make?
KM: That’s a hard one. On a Friday or Saturday night, ones that are quick and delicious. I do enjoy making a good Manhattan or an Old Fashioned.
HHC: What’s your favorite drink to drink?
KM: I’m big on whiskey, Bourbons to be specific, but I have been really getting into red wines the past year, so I’m happy being on that journey.
HHC: What is a must have at every bar you go to/work at?
KM: Clean ice and a strong bar back. Period.
HHC: What is your favorite type of bar? Why?
KM: Although I like different types of bars, I gravitate to neighborhood bars. It’s where I feel most at home and the people who come to them tend to feel more comfortable in their skin. I think it makes for a more genuine experience.
HHC: Where is your favorite bar? Why?
KM: Outside Casey’s (chuckle), I’d say The Golden Gopher. It’s got a rich history, awesome bartenders and tends to draw an eclectic crowd. I always feel comfortable drinking there and meeting new people.
HHC: What kind of typical bar regular do you like?
KM: In a regular, I really appreciate those who treat the bar like it’s something important to them. Like going to your best friends house for a BBQ. They are looking for a good time while looking out for the venue and other people there. They understand that the bar is a community hub and is only as good as you make it.
HHC: Do you know any bar tricks?
KM: Yes. I can pour a beer with my feet. Only kidding. I’m what I would like to consider a straight bartender, meaning although I pour with my own style and nuances, they aren’t parlor tricks. I’d rather focus on people and the experience they are having.
HHC: How did you end up working where you are now?
KM: Long story, but I was just wrapping up 5 years bartending in Hollywood at the Palladium when I got the word that Casey’s was looking for a bar manager. I met Jeff, saw all the beautiful wood and whiskey bottles and the rest was history.
HHC: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
KM: Hopefully owning a bar of my own, but I hear the lottery pays only those with winning tickets!
HHC: Have you ever invented any drinks?
KM: Not really but I feel like I’ve refined a few here and there.
HHC: Who was/is your mentor/idol if you had one?
KM: There are many, but I’d say it’s a cross between Henry Valentine Miller and Marcus Garvey.
HHC: Where do you go for Happy Hour?
KM: I’d be at the Gopher if I were ever not pouring drinks at Casey’s.
HHC: What’s one thing you think it takes to be a good bartender?
KM: I feel all good bartender have a few things in common. They must genuinely love people and want to create a good experience for them. They have mental and physical dexterity because this job requires good coordination and the ability to solve problems quickly and efficiently. Lastly, they must have a good grasp on what they are pouring, and how this contributes to their experience that evening, whether it'd be a dram of 21-year Japanese Whiskey, a bottle of Bud Light or an 8 ingredient cocktail.
HHC: What’s the craziest thing that has ever happened to you on the job?
KM: Wow. There are too many to enumerate, but I’d say the craziest thing I’ve seen a woman pull a snake out of her purse and laid it on the bar as a tip. That one is pretty hard to beat.
Casey's Irish Pub
Tuesday - Saturday:
3:00 P.M. - 7:00 P.M.
All Day On Sundays!
613 S Grand Ave
We'd like to thank Kwame and Casey's Irish Pub for letting us interview, film, and shoot Kwame at work. Go visit him for Happy Hour at Casey's.
Thanks for reading and as always...