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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Hey, Barkeep!: O’Malley’s bartender likes to create experiences with regulars and new customers

    Zi Yang Lai

    William Small, bartender at O’Malley’s Bar & Grill, makes a drink for a customer. Small said he enjoys the fun and active pace of a busy bar.

    William Small, a bar manager at O’Malley’s, made his way up from bouncing back in the day. He appreciates the melting pot of people that his bar is.

    Daily Wildcat: How long have you been bartending?

    Small: I’ve been at O’Malley’s for going a little over six years and I’ve been bartending for … heading into three years.

    And were you a server or something before?

    No, I started off at the door and realized that it was more fun being at the bar than hanging out in the corner. So I moved my way up pretty quick, and I’ve been doing it ever since. 

    Did you have any interest in eventually bartending when you first started working here?

    I did a whole lot of construction for a lot of years, and I blew my back out as an excavator and then needed work, and I have a small family. So I came in, started doing it. Like I said, I started off at the door and moved my way all the way up to this wonderful managing bartender spot. I love it; I love working here. I’ve been here this entire time. I really can’t imagine being anywhere else at this point in time.

    What’s your favorite thing about bartending?

    It’s fun and it’s active. Our bar is pretty fast-paced. Plus the people that are sitting here right now, I’ve known them for the entire time that I’ve worked here, so they’ve gotten to see me grow, they’ve gotten to see my kids be born. We communicate on that level. And then there’s a certain aspect where you got your students, you got your Air-Force-based, and a lot of faces are constantly changing and stuff like that, so you get to meet a lot of people and it keeps moving. … Coming from a construction background, I like having movement. I like being busy. 

    Do you have a favorite drink to make?

    I like making Old Fashioneds a lot. It’s kind of nice to show people the things that go into Old Fashioneds. There’s so many different variations of that, so it tastes different no matter where you go. 

    Have you ever had someone order a drink that they made up, so you had to come up with what to put in it?

    Yeah, the kids like a little bit of fun and games, and they just give you a bunch of ingredients, and they want you to put it together. It’s their stomach at the end of it.

    I saw outside you guys are doing spiked Eegee’s now.

    Yeah, as far as I know, when they started out with us a couple months ago we were the only establishment in Tucson that was offering it. We carry the Tequila Lime and the Piña Colada. And even with it getting colder they’re still pretty popular. A lot of people like them.

    Do you have any stories of a memorable customer?

    There’s a lot of them, most of it is just people get really creative as they get drunk. Things just happen. You get to see them come in as one person and leave completely different. The level, the talking and everything starts changing and the conversation changes, the context of your conversation changes and stuff like that. But most of the time, you come in, you got a certain issue on your mind, you sit down at the bar, and everybody starts having a really good time.

    What can customers do to make your job more fun?

    Be ready. Act like you’ve gone to the bar a couple of times. But we’re downtown, we’re right next to the school, so you get a lot of people that are fresh, so they might only have the knowledge of base liquor or base beer. But if you come in and know what you’re doing, it makes it 900 times easier, but interaction is fun. … It’s not necessarily their duty to come in and make my day better; it’s my job to have them come in, [and] make their day better. But you win some, you lose some.

    Follow Emma Jackson on Twitter.

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