December 7th, 2006

Reggie St. Paul – The Blue Room

Reggie St. PaulBartender Profile
If there’s one thing 40 years of tending bar has taught Reggie St. Paul, it’s the importance of paying attention to customers — and I don’t mean listening for hours to some guy complain about his ex-wife. I mean picking up on little cues and treating people accordingly. For instance, though I’m only a sporadic Blue Room customer, he remembers that when I order a glass of wine, I never request a particular grape or brand; instead, I defer to the bartender’s suggestion. Reggie never has to think about it, he just selects a bottle, pours me a taste, and it’s always just right. He is also skilled at subtly imposing a standard of behavior. Once I saw a couple come in and brusquely order Jack and Cokes, saying they were in a hurry to catch a movie at the nearby theater. They fidgeted on their barstools, and the woman reeked of perfume. Without missing a beat, Reggie showed them how uncool they were being: he asked for ID, though they were well into their 30s.

Reggie started tending bar in 1965 to augment the meager salary he was earning as a high school teacher and soon abandoned the teaching gig altogether, with no regrets. One of his first jobs was at Lennie’s on the Turnpike, a legendary jazz bar in West Peabody where “15 bucks in tips was a good night.” Nice tradeoff, though — he got to see Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Stan Getz and Bill Evans, among other greats. Booze trends were a bit different back then. Reggie remembers preparing for an average shift by pre-mixing a couple gallons each of Martinis and Manhattans. Everyone drank gin and rye whiskey, no one drank vodka, and wine came in a jug. These days, when you go to the Blue Room, Reggie will offer to mix you his signature 5 Star Sidecar: Metaxa 5-Star Brandy, fresh sour, and Cointreau served straight up in a glass with a sugared rim. For my money, though, I’ll take the crisp, cool Martini he’s perfected over the past 40 years.

Medford, MA

Past bartending jobs
Lennie’s, 1965-71; Casablanca, 1971-89; the Blue Room, 1991-present

First drink you ever had
Sloe Gin Fizz

Favorite bar in Boston other than your own
B-Side Lounge, Green Street

Drink you most like to make
5 Star Sidecar

Drink you least like to make

What you drink at the end of your shift

If I weren’t a bartender, I’d be…
A teacher

A bartender’s best friend is…
His or her ability to improvise in any situation

A bartender’s worst enemy is…
Pre-judging his guests

Drink for a hot summer day
White Sangria

Drink for a cold winter night
Spanish Coffee

The best thing about drinking in Boston is…
2 a.m. closing

The worst thing about drinking in Boston is…
2 a.m. closing

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