Bar Beat

A Chat with Isang Undoinyang of Boheme

Isang Undoinyang is one of those guys who started waiting tables in college, thinking it was a temporary gig, and just never stopped. After more than five years on the floor and behind the bar at Two Rows, he's bounced to Bar Boheme (307 Fairview St., 713-529-1099), an eclectic wine bar in the heart of Montrose. What inspired the change? "Working at Two Rows was so easy, and it allowed me to not do anything else," says Undoinyang. "You get used to it. You wake up at nine or 10, you go to work at six and work for six or seven hours and your bills get paid. You can go out drinking and partying or whatever for as long as you want. But eventually you turn 30 and it starts to get old, and you're just like, 'I gotta do something else.' For me it was more of a change of milieu than anything else." If that's true, Isang sure is precocious -- he's still a couple years shy of his 30th birthday.

While many bartenders fall somewhere between mad scientist and connoisseur in their discussions of mixology, when Isang talks about his work as a bartender, he talks about people. Sure, he knows what he's doing when it comes to pouring drinks, but to hear him talk, it seems like he sees making beverages as a means to an end - creating a social lubricant meant to get people out of their shells and talking to each other. He's the bartender you want when you pull up to the bar alone: an irrepressible people-person with a genuine smile and the ability to strike up a conversation with pretty much anyone. "I've made a lot of friends through my job. I mean, it's pretty easy -- they tend to drink where I work, so when I get off work I can go drink with them. I've met a ton of cool people that way."

Isang has nothing but nice things to say about the Two Rows crowds, but he lets slip a few of the pitfalls and perks of working at a college-crowd sports bar. "When we had $1 beers at Two Rows, obviously people would get really sick and vomit. So one time someone vomited on the staircase, and when we were leaving work, one of the guys didn't see it, and he slipped and fell in it." Undoinyang laughs at the memory. "You get your vomit stories; you get your flashing stories. I personally missed it, but people have flashed in the bar." The people at Boheme don't seem to be very likely to do much of either. "The biggest difference between bartending at Two Rows and bartending at Boheme is that in Montrose, the crowd is two to three years older. Its people who have graduated and aren't still in college, mostly. I like both crowds. I think the Montrose crowd, which obviously is known for being kinda artsy, will give me an opportunity to meet different kinds of people." If you're at Boheme and haven't met Isang, you aren't really trying.

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Sarah Rufka