Featured bartender: Sabbatic's Devon Weisend
When Devon Wiesend is behind the bar, she owns it. Her quick wit, sassy-yet-warm personality and infectious laugh create a vibe that is only present at Sabbatic when she's pouring the goods.
Recently, we stopped in to Sabbatic, 700 S. 2nd St., and chatted with Wiesend about a slew of topics, from whiskey to karaoke to punk rock to ... did we mention whiskey?
OnMilwaukee.com: Where did you work other than here?
Devon Wiesend: I worked at The New Yorker for five years, basically five days a week. I learned how to bartend there. I loved it. Sal (Monreal) is a great owner. And I'm a karaoke junkie. I used to bartend and karaoke at same time – a mic in one hand, a bottle in the other.
OMC: What are your favorite karaoke songs?
DW: "Give me one reason" by Tracy Chapman. Because I'm a tenor. I used to be able to sing a lot more stuff but that was before 18 years of smoking.
OMC: Do you have any professional voice training?
DW: Yes, I am a jazz trained singer. After high school I was in a band for a short time called Mudflap.
OMC: Where did you grow up?
DW: Waterford. Small town. I moved out on my 18th birthday. I wasn't even done with high school yet.
OMC: Did you move to Milwaukee?
DW: Nope. I moved directly to Union Grove. Hey, I still had to get to high school and it was close by. But then I moved to Oak Creek and eventually Milwaukee. I also lived in Nashville for two years, but I moved back.
OMC: Why did you move to Nashville and what led you back?
DW: I wanted the warmth and I really hate the cold. But I missed Milwaukee. I came back and visited and never wanted to leave. They say Nashville is the friendliest city in the world, but it's not true. It's very fake. People have lots of manners, but they're not sincere.
In Milwaukee, you can sit at a bar and no matter who a person is or where they're from, you chitchat, buy each other shots, play bar dice. There is really no where else you can do this without people thinking you're a weirdo.
OMC: Where do you like to hang out when you're not working?
DW: I know it's going to sound cheesy and like my bosses are paying me to say this, but I come here or to The Standard. I live in Bay View, so I'll stop into Frank's. I stop at Monkey Bar quite a bit, too, because Diane (Dowland) is a good friend of mine. I don't go out as much as I used to.
OMC: What do you like to do when you're not working or hanging out?
DW: I play a lot of solitaire on my phone. I Facebook a lot. I'm an active member of an online Atheism group which might sound crazy but it's a very fun community.
I also spend a lot of time with my niece. She'll be 1 year old on Saturday. And I just started volunteering for the Hunger Task Force. I'll be doing office work for them. That's really a charity I can get on board with and I don't have money to give so I wanted to figure something else out.
OMC: What's you favorite drink to make?
OMC: What's your favorite drink to consume?
OMC: Do you have a favorite whiskey?
DW: Irish whiskey. We have a lot of Tully (Tullamore Dew) here which I really like a lot. We go through a lot of whiskey here in general. We do the check-in shots which means when you come in and check in on Foursquare or Facebook you get a free shot of Tully with the purchase of a cocktail.
OMC: That's cool. How do you drink your whiskey?
DW: I fill a glass will ice and about two ounces of whiskey and fill the rest with water. I used to drink it neat but I realized I drink it straight at the same pace as when I mix it with water. So, the mixing with water I decided is just a better idea.
OMC: Did you ever have to clean up puke?
DW: I only had to clean up puke one time. It smelled strongly of what the lady had been drinking. It was the day of the Pride Parade and I was working from 11 a.m. to 4 a.m. and around 7 p.m., during my only lull of the incredibly long shift, I had to clean up vomit. But all in all, it was an awesome day and she (the puker) has been back in here apologizing. She's sweet – just got in a little over her head that day.
OMC: Do you get hit on a lot?
DW: Yes and no. Flirting is part of the job and I love doing it. People make comments about my boobs all the time.
OMC: What is something about Sabbatic that you really love?
DW: I love punk rock. And that Simpsons pinball machine is pretty sweet.
OMC: What appeals to you about punk rock?
DW: I like the older stuff – The Ramones and such. Not the screamy stuff. And I love the idea of anti establishment. But I don't have much to rebel against. I had a pretty happy, middle class upbringing. Dad worked at the same factory for 30-some years, mom was a teacher. I really didn't have it very rough.
OMC: What are some things you want to do in your life?
DW: I want to travel, but I hate flying. I get a little bit claustrophobic and freak out. I would love to see South America and I've wanted to got to Panama for years. I'm a big nerd when it comes to travel specials and I saw one on Panama a few years ago and have wanted to go ever since.
I went to Jamaica and the Dominican Republic and they are both gorgeous. But I love Milwaukee, so it's not like I'm going to start braiding on a beach for a living anytime soon.
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