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Kimberly Gutleben, Alameda's 'Best Bartender'

Patch talks with Kimberly 'Kimmy' Gutleben of The Churchward Pub, the winner of the 2012 Patch Readers’ Choice Best Bartender Award

How did winning the best bartender in Alameda award make you feel? I was very flattered. It makes me blush! I still have no idea who nominated me.

When did you start bartending? I actually started bartending at the about six years ago. Then I moved to San Diego to go to school.

At the restaurant where I worked in San Diego, which had a pretty fancy bar, they flew in a mixologist to work with us and do a fairly extensive course with us at the restaurant, but other than that I’ve never taken a formal bartending course.

Should I be calling you a mixologist instead of a bartender? No, no, I’m a bartender. Mixologists are actually very different. A mixologist is almost like being a chemist. They’re very particular. Everything is perfectly measured.

How long have you been here at the ? When I moved back from San Diego, Joey and Lisa offered me the job here. I grew up with the Churchwards. We went to school together — Edison, Lincoln, then Alameda High. It’s like family here. It’s more like fun coming to work than a chore.

What are the ingredients that make a good bartender? People want to come in and see somebody smiling. They like it when you remember their name and what they like to drink. They want to feel welcomed and have a good conversation. I’ll talk about anything, all day. It’s kind of like therapy!

We have a lot of regulars, some of whom came here when this was the Pop Inn — an Alameda staple. Joey doesn’t hire people who are just good at mixing drinks. He wants people with a good personality, who make folks feel welcome.

What are some of the most popular drinks people order? I mostly work during the day, so people order beers or shots. It’s not always alcoholic. I pour a lot of Diet Coke!

It’s different at night or on weekends. We get a different crowd and I pour a lot of mixed drinks.

I like mixing drinks. Sometimes people will ask for something fun. We’ll make anything you want. If you have an idea of the key ingredients, we’ll make something up for you.

When I worked at the Harbor Bay Club, I had a drink named the Kimmy Key Lime which tastes like Key lime pie. It’s made with vanilla vodka, pineapple juice, lime juice, shaken with a tiny bit of Sprite and served in a martini glass with a graham cracker crust. Some people like a little cream in it. It’s really good!

Joey likes to do a drink called Blood and Sand. It’s made with Dewar's scotch, orange juice, Cherry Heering and a dash of black raspberry liqueur shaken and poured into a martini glass. Then you light the orange rind on fire and drop it in!

What is the weirdest drink request you’ve gotten? Weirdest drink ... hmm. People aren’t too out there. This is Alameda!

People do like to be fancy when they order a drink, so they’ll ask for a Crystal Chandelier, which is just a vodka soda, or a Cape Cod, which is just a vodka with cranberry juice. It’s fun for people.

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