Bar Beat

Bartender Chat: Amber Southerland of Blue Bar at Brenner's on the Bayou

There's nothing better than enjoying the last few days of wonderful weather before the hellish summer hits with a delicious cocktail and a beautiful view. Blue Bar at Brenner's on the Bayou offers just that: yummy cocktails, great scenery and a relaxed atmosphere. The mixer of those delicious libations? Amber Southerland.

At 23, Amber may not be the most seasoned bartender in Houston, but she seems to have done her bartending homework. She easily mixes a wide variety of specialty beverages, juggling the outdoor patrons and the tickets from inside. During a break in the action, she shows me a couple of specialty items that set her bar apart from others in the area - Brugal Rum, a Dominican rum only offered in a handful of U.S. cities, and Bluecoat Gin, a domestic, small-batch gin that she describes as "very smooth and flavorful."

She mixes me a Pear Martini, one of Blue Bar's most popular specialty drinks. The reasons for its popularity are clear - it's light and refreshing with a hint of pear.

Earlier in the evening, Amber sat down for a quick chat:

What the best part of bartending? The people. I love working with people. It's a good crowd here.

In three words, describe your bartending style. Not very fancy.

Other than your bar, what's your favorite bar, and what do you order? I go to hole-in-the-wall bars. There's a bar right next door called R Bar. When we get off work and we're tired, that's where we go. I either drink beer or Grey Goose and soda with lime.

If you're going to order a shot, what would it be? I don't know...people always order shots for me.

Fill in the blanks: I walk in and order a ___________. You think, _________. You walk in an order a mojito and I think, "Darn!" [They're super time-consuming.]

What's the worst (or best, depending on how you're looking at it) pick-up line you've heard? I've heard a lot. I wish I could remember them! They're all so cliché. Nothing that was special enough for me to remember.

Is there a recipe you'd like to share with us? There's a shot that I put a whole bunch of junk in, but I don't want to give that one to you! But, the birthday cake shot is good. My version is with a sugared rim and a lemon. It's got Absolut Citron vodka and Frangelico, equal parts, and that's it. Shake it, pour it, drink it with the sugar and bite the lemon right after and it tastes like a cupcake or birthday cake. It can be served in a martini glass too.

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Carrie Applegate Jaeger