Bartender Chat: Holly of Catbirds

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It was so warm and beautiful this week that I decided to dust off the Schwinn and ride over to Catbirds...because what's a bike ride if there's no "beereward"? There was a raven-haired lady named Holly behind the bar whipping up strawberry basil mojitos so I grabbed a stool, ordered one, and got to know a little bit about her, and the good-ol' Montrose stand-by that is Catbirds.

Where are you from? I'm originally from Rochester Hills, Michigan, which is a suburb of Detroit, but I've been in Houston most of my life.

How long have you been tending bar at Catbirds? It'll be two years in April.

What other jobs have you held besides bartending? I was a bike mechanic, a dance teacher....waitress...lots of random stuff.

Could you tell us a little about the building's history? It was a sex shop before. See the little sperm window up there? Yeah, for the longest time no one noticed.

How would you describe the bar's aesthetic? Of all the places I've worked, Catbirds has the strongest sense of family and... "open-armedness," which isn't a word, but everyone is welcome. The regulars are inviting, and there's a sense of belonging. We get people who come in expecting it to be a jazz lounge with live bands, but we're just your neighborhood dive bar. I mean we do play a lot of old jazz. The owner compiles playlists from his own collection of music and he's been collecting for a very long time, but we mix it up, too. Like on the first Tuesday of every month, we do Whiskey River, where we play a bunch of old country.

How would you describe the crowd? I've never seen such a diverse crowd. We get all ages and all backgrounds. I like it because it's not a typical Montrose bar with a shtick. It's not a trendy hipster bar but I mean, trendy hipsters come and drink here. I'd say about 80 per cent of our clientele are regulars, and the Mayor of Montrose is here just about every day.

Do you have a specialty or a drink you pride yourself on? I like to get a little creative. All the bartenders here have freedom. Today I'm making strawberry basil mojitos; they're so good, right? And I've been told my Bloody Marys are pretty fabulous.

Fill in the blank: At the end of my shift, I pour a _____. Powers Irish whiskey.

Wildcard: What do you think will be the next popular catch phrase? Can we bring something back? Can we please bring back "crunk" or "bunk"? It's just such a good word when you mean business....something about the "u-n-k".

Swing by Catbirds, located at 1336 Westheimer, say hi to Holly, and stay for happy hour from 3 to 8 p.m. daily with $3 Jager shots, $3 Rumple shots, $3 wells and $2 domestics. Check the calendar for more specials and upcoming events.

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