Featured bartender: Lucas Oseland of Bar 360
Lucas Oseland has a unique bartending job in the city. As a barkeep at Potawatomi Bingo Casino's Bar 360 – located in the heart of the casino and not bound to the smoking ban law – he is surrounded by sights, sounds and smells that most bartenders are not exposed to.
Oseland wouldn't have it any other way. He says he loves the excitement of the casino environment and takes great pride in the fact he served the first alcoholic beverage on site when the casino started serving alcohol in 2008.
OnMilwaukee.com recently spent time with Oseland at Bar 360 and talked drinking, gambling, Native American culture and his gift of height.
OnMilwaukee.com: How long have you worked at Potawatomi Bingo Casino?
Lucas Oseland: Thirteen years. Lucky 13 this year. I started when The Fire Pit opened in 2000. Then, four years ago when the casino started to sell alcohol, I moved over here to Bar 360.
I served the first ever alcoholic beverage in the history of the casino.
OMC: Really? What was the beverage?
LO: It's fitting for Milwaukee: a bottle of Miller Lite.
OMC: What is the most expensive alcohol you serve?
LO: We have a bottle of Louis XIII cognac that's $125 an ounce.
OMC: Do you serve it often? What else do big winners / high rollers like to drink?
LO: We're on our third bottle since we opened four years ago. There really isn't a "type" of drink big winners like. But we do sell a lot of celebratory Southern Comfort hurricanes in February when it's our specialty (of the month) drink. Southern Comfort – it always gets the party started.
OMC: That light structure in the middle of the bar is amazing. Can you tell me more about it?
LO: It's modeled after a Native American dream catcher. A display of sprawling light. The later at night it gets, the more the colors change. It's really beautiful.
OMC: Have you heard a lot about Native American culture working here?
LO: I have. We have quarterly employee meetings and we are kept up to date on tribal elections. We also host a pow wow every year that brings in a lot of tribes.
OMC: Does it bother you that smoking is allowed in the casino?
LO: I don't have a problem with it and I'm an ex-smoker. The ventilation system in here is great. I hardly notice it. We get a lot of customers who come here just so they can drink and smoke.
OMC: What's your favorite drink to make?
LO: The upside-down pineapple martini. It's made with pineapple Malibu, triple sec, pineapple juice and then you bottom float grenadine. It makes a cool visual impact.
OMC: What do you like to drink when you're on the other side of the bar?
LO: I don't have a particular drink. I go through phases. Right now, I'm in a Red Bull and vodka phase but I have to switch it up soon. I've been up way too late. I'm also a beer drinker. I like a lot of IPAs – Lakefront's in particular.
OMC: Were you born and raised in the area?
LO: Yep. I grew up in West Allis. My wife and I recently bought a house in Greendale.
OMC: When did you get married?
LO: About two years ago. I met my wife here. She worked at The Fire Pit.
OMC: What do you like to do when you're not tending bar?
LO: I like to bowl at Burnham Bowl. I used to be in a lot of leagues. I like to go to Vegas, too. I try to go about once a year. I used to go more often. These days, though, most of my money and free time goes toward the house.
OMC: What are your games?
LO: Poker, craps, video poker. I like the excitement of being in casinos – people hooting and hollering and having a good time. It's a good thing as an employee of the casino I'm not allowed to gamble.
OMC: How do you cut off a drinker who has clearly had too much?
LO: I try to enlist the help of their friends or family – the people they are with – first. This usually works wonders. I tell them on the side that I cannot serve the person anymore because he or she is too intoxicated and they usually suggest they get out of here. I am lucky though, because we have a great security staff here, so if I need extra help, it's always quickly available.
OMC: What bars do you like to visit?
LO: I really like Great Lakes Distillery's tasting room. I have a good friend who works there and after working in this environment it's nice to kick back in a place that's quiet and calm.
OMC: What do you like about working here?
LO: I get to meet a lot of new people who are in town visiting or here to go to a Brewers game or something and I also have my regulars. It's a good mix.
OMC: Where is your favorite place to eat in the casino?
LO: I have to stick with The Fire Pit. It's my roots. And nothing beats the reuben at The Fire Pit.
OMC: I have to ask: how tall are you?
LO: (Laughing) I get asked this all the time, so I have come up with new ways to answer. I am 80 inches; 2.03 meters. I am 5 feet 20 inches. Or I'm 6 feet 8. And yes, I play basketball, but not professionally. However, if the Bucks come calling, I'm there.
This is such a well deserved feature! Another Fun Fact about Lucas is that he is the Brett Favre of Drink Slinging at the Casino. Lucas has the most consecutive starts of any bartender! Lucas is a real bartender that can do it old school and is also familiar with molecular cocktails and new trends. His witty humor and customer service skills are a trait that should be cloned into bartenders throughtout the city. If I would ever have my own restaurant or bar Lucas would be the first person I would want behind the bar! Congrats Luda and Watch Out for the Idol
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