By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Dec 13, 2010 at 9:04 AM

Josh Keller is still at his first job tending bar. The Humphrey, Neb., native moved to Milwaukee 10 years ago and gave Marquette a try, but the college thing just wasn't for him. So, for the last five years, Keller has worked at the Harp & Shamrock, 2106 W. Wells St., which, despite its proximity to the university, feels very little like a college bar.

"After spending 18 years in Nebraska, I wanted to try something different," says Keller. "I love this city, and I stuck around."

We caught up for Keller on a Friday at about noon, and his bar was already doing a lively business with its regulars. "Some of these guys work odd shifts and come here after that, some of them just need a place to go." This isn't really a Marquette bar, is it?

Josh Keller: We get Marquette students in here, but we mostly get the students who are sick of the campus bars, who want a more down-to-earth atmosphere.

OMC: What's your signature drink?

JK: A shot of whiskey?

OMC: What's your least favorite drink to make?

JK: I'm not a big fan of Bloodys after dark, just because it's time-consuming. If it's slow, I have no problem making one.

OMC: What's the most ridiculous thing you've seen working in this bar?

JK: There's been a lot of ridiculousness here. Most of it has to deal with people coming in here cracked out and us having a hard time getting them out the door.

OMC: That leads to my question about bar fights. Had to break any up in your career?

JK: Yeah. Most of the people had no business being here. I'm lucky in this environment because I usually have one or two people in here who are bigger than me and have got my back. A lot of it starts with politely asking them to leave. When that doesn't work, it escalates to yelling. When that doesn't work, sometimes it's just brute force out the door.

OMC: Do pick-up lines work in bars?

JK: Not that I've seen.

OMC: Who are better tippers, men or women?

JK: Men. Overall, I mean. I've known a lot of women who tip very well. However, I also see a lot more men here.

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

JK: It all depends on entirely who I'm hanging out with. Sometimes I just come here, sometimes I'm in Bay View. Sometimes the East Side.

OMC: Do you drink while you're working?

JK: Hell yeah.

OMC: Does it make it harder or easier?

JK: Typically easier. There are a few incidents, I guess, when it got a little rough.

OMC: What's the best part of being a bartender?

JK: There are a lot of good things. It's a little difficult to narrow it down, but the best thing is being able to meet a lot of people but not getting stuck in conversation because there's always a way to get out and move on.

OMC: What's the worst part?

JK: The worst part is when I have to deal with heavy things like having to kick out people and such. Or just someone being drunk and talking in circles and not catching hints that they need to go home.

Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.