Discussing the details of a life behind bars with one of the borough’s best-known faces.
How long have you been with Saloon 151? This is my third year, so I’m kind of newer here. I know the owner because he used to be the General Manager of Barnaby’s, so I’ve known him for 15 years.
Are you from the West Chester area? Yes, born and raised. And I’ve been bartending for 20 years in West Chester.
Where did you work before Saloon? I opened Barnaby’s—I guess it was 2007. I worked there for almost 10 years. Then I went to Square Bar and was there for five years. I was actually at Saloon and Square together. I quit Square Bar right around COVID, and now I’m just at Saloon. I’ve been around West Chester a long time!
So what’s the clientele like here? It’s varied. We’ve got a great Happy Hour crowd, and then there are people coming just to try our new and different whiskeys and Old Fashioneds and stuff like that. And we have the college crowd later, so it’s great. We kind of get everybody.
Tell me a little about the whiskeys. We’re a whiskey bar—that’s what we’re known for—which I honestly knew nothing about before I started, and I was bartending forever! Learning all about the whiskeys was an experience. I’m still learning, honestly. We have a very expansive list of bourbons, whiskeys, and Scotches. It’s crazy. We even have one that goes for $200 a shot.
Of the whiskeys—are there certain bestsellers? Yes. There’s Blanton’s Bourbon, which is impossible to get in a liquor store right now. We also have our own saloon barrels, so we have Saloon 151’s Buffalo Trace and Saloon 151’s Knob Creek. Our customers know their stuff. They come to try new things, and we have options you just can’t get at other places.
Can people do whiskey flights to sample different selections? Absolutely. We also do whiskey tasting events.
How does that work? We have an event space — to the right of the main bar is a smaller room. It holds about 40 people. That’s where I love to work —I work there every Saturday night — because it’s my own bar, basically. We call it the half bar. A lot of people don’t even know it’s there. They’ll walk back looking for a bathroom and they’re like, ‘Wait, this is a bar?’ It’s more like an intimate room. Anyway, we do private parties there. You can call and schedule a whiskey tasting in there, which I think a lot of people don’t know about. I love working back there because I’m by myself and it’s just a more intimate setting. It’s not as busy as the other bar, so people can sit there and talk to me. I talk to people way more back there. You get more regulars that way, talking to everyone.
You mentioned making a lot of Old Fashioneds. Is that your favorite? I do make a ton of Old Fashioneds, but it’s not my favorite drink. We do have our Saloon Old Fashioneds, which are made with our Saloon Knob Creek, and we put a rock candy stirrer in there and people seem to really like it. That’s newer. But what I really like right now, on our seasonal menu, is the Salted Caramel Cold Brew Martini.
Oh, that sounds delicious. What’s in it? It’s Caramel vodka, Kahlua, Rumchata, and cold brew with a sea salt caramel rim. It’s really good!