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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014

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In Bars & Clubs

Fran prefers if you order beer.

In Bars & Clubs

She's never broken up a bar fight, but she's been in one.

In Bars & Clubs

Previous to bartending in Milwaukee, Switalski served drinks in Sheboygan ... but she won't say where.

In Bars & Clubs

Visit during a Sunday Packers game, and you might see Switalski atop this bar.

In Bars & Clubs

By day, Switalski works as an occupational therapist.

Featured bartender: Fran Switalski at the Highbury Pub

Fran Switalski doesn't like messing around with fancy drinks. Been there, done that for the Highbury bartender, who would rather just pour you a beer.

The drink slinger – who will climb up on the bar and pour shots down your throat when the Packers score a touchdown – is actually an occupational therapist by day.

By night, though, her brand of therapy is making sure you are adequately served at the bar, 2322 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

We caught up with Switalski right before – you guessed it – a Sunday night Packers game. Here's what she had to say. Do you really hate making fancy drinks?

Fran Switalski: I hate when people try to impress other people by their drink orders. Those are the people who say, "Oh, have you heard about this tiny village in the south of France that makes this Swiss wine that you can only get here? Because I have a case.'"

OMC: So what do you like to pour?

FS: Beer. Why don't you just have beer? It's a bar. If you're looking for something fancy, go to a cocktail lounge.

OMC: I think I know the answer to this, but do you drink when you tend bar?

FS: All the time. It makes it way easier. People are better looking. People are funnier and less annoying.

OMC: Who tips better, men or women?

FS: Well, when you've got a rack, typically men.

OMC: What's the biggest tip you've ever received?

FS: I did sell my bra once for $50.

OMC: Where else have you bartended?

FS: I lived in Sheboygan for three years, and I bartended there ... but I don't want to tell you where. In Milwaukee, at Hinterland.

OMC: Where do you drink when you're not tending bar?

FS: At home. Alone. No, just kidding. If I'm going out to meet someone for a drink, I like to go to places that are pretty mellow and are close to my house, so I can walk home from them. I like The Noble and Crazy Water. If I'm going to visit friends, I'll go to Cactus Club or Burnhearts.

OMC: What's the weirdest thing you've seen while bartending?

FS: Years ago, this girl came in super hammered. She ordered a Captain and Coke. She pinched her nose and drank it so she didn't have to taste it. That's perseverance.

OMC: And you're in a band, too?

FS: I used to be in a band, the Flips. I sang mostly backup.

OMC: Did you ever break up a bar fight?

FS: No, but I've been in a bar fight. A guy spit beer in my ear.

OMC: On purpose?

FS: Yes, in L.A., in a bathroom. I made fun of his faux hawk, and he spit in my ear. One of the dudes I was with, who was huge, grabbed him by the neck. There was a lot of chest bumping while I jumped up and swatted at him.


Andy Tarnoff | Dec. 21, 2012 at 2:18 p.m. (report)

First of all, John, have you been to a Sunday night Packers game at Highbury? Mostly industry people, a lot of fun. Second of all, Fran currently works there on Sundays. That's why I interviewed her on a Sunday. Thanks for reading.

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JohnJS | Dec. 21, 2012 at 2:10 p.m. (report)

You went to the Highbury to interview the bartender before a Packer game? The Highbury. That makes about as much sense as doing a review of Taco Bell as a Mexican Restaurant. It is a soccer bar, how about interviewing her during some soccer games.

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