This bartender profile is brought to you by Somersby Hard Apple Cider. Find out where you can try Somersby here.
Slip into Firefly Urban Bar and Grill, 7754 Harwood Ave., across the tracks in Tosa Village, and you’ll find a range of options laid out before you. There is a dining room that feels casual during the day and early in the evening, but takes on a more romantic vibe when the lights go down later on. When the weather cooperates, there’s a patio for outdoor dining, too.
Head all the way to the back and there’s a comfortable bar that’s perfect for martinis and mojitos, with banquettes along the back wall and even a little cove where lucky diners can enjoy an intimate night out.
Helping to make it even better is an attentive staff that includes bartender Shannon Geier.
Hailing from up in Dodge County, Geier spent some time in Iowa, too, before landing in the Milwaukee area a couple years ago and taking a job a Firefly, which has been different than her previous bartending gigs, she says.
We caught up with her recently to ask about tending bar at Firefly, her signature drinks and more.
OnMilwaukee.com: How did you become a bartender at Firefly and when did you start?
Shannon Geier: I started in the summer of 2011. I had just moved to Milwaukee and was searching for jobs on Craigslist. I was new to the area, so I had no idea what businesses were around to apply at. I also never worked in a typical "bar" before, so I was really picky about where I wanted to work. Firefly was exactly what I was looking for.
OMC: Has is it different from your previous gigs?
SG: My first bartending job was at a golf course. I drove the beverage cart around and worked in the club house. That was probably my most fun job. My second job was at a reception hall, where they had a lot of weddings.
They were both just real basic bartending. You know, popping bottles of beer, pouring taps, making a rum and Coke.
So, yeah, my experience at Firefly has definitely been different from my other jobs. Starting with our drink menu. We have a variety of specialty cocktails and martinis that use fresh fruits and juices. So right off the bat, I had to learn how to muddle drinks and make precise martinis.
OMC: Do you get a sense that Tosa Village is becoming more of a destination?
SG: I'm not sure how much insight I have on this question, since I’ve only lived in this area for a short period of time. It's hard for me to say, but, personally I think that Tosa is a nice little escape from the chaos of Milwaukee.
OMC: Do you get a mellower crowd than you'd get, say, Downtown?
SG: Our crowd is definitely mellow. When I think of Downtown, I think of Water Street. Maybe it's me, or maybe I just got older, but I don't think Water Street is what it used to be. The crowd is young, college-age students and it's just so wild!
It doesn't get like that at Firefly. If you come here with the mindset of looking to get smashed, I think you'll definitely feel out of place. Which, I think, makes our clientele not real specific, but let’s just say that I'm not having to card customers every 10 seconds!
OMC: What is your specialty/signature drink?
SG: It's called the blackberry apple crush (see recipe below). So we take a fresh cut orange slice and some fresh blackberries and muddle them together. We add our own house-made rosemary simple syrup, add ice, pour some Somersby cider over the top, mix well and voila! It's a really great refreshing drink. They go down fast and the feedback has been great!
OMC: What is the most ridiculous thing you've seen a drunk patron do – not necessarily at Firefly?
SG: Honestly, there is not one incident that stands out to me. I'm sure someone who's worked in a corner bar would probably have a better answer, but people never really get too crazy in the environments I surround myself in. I mean, I've seen a bride and groom get into an argument at their wedding, and there was another wedding where the bride passed out in the bathroom stall. I'm sure there are other more ridiculous things, but I have the memory of a 90-year-old woman!
OMC: Ever break up any bar fights?
OMC: What are the best and worst pick-up lines you've heard used in a bar?
SG: This question makes me laugh. I think like most pick-up lines, my absolute favorite cannot be published in this interview. I could tell you some corny ones, but that would just be boring. If (people) really want to know, come see me and I'll tell you!
OMC: What are the best and worst parts of being a bartender?
SG: The best part would have to be the friends that I've made; who have started out as customers – you know who you are! The worst thing is having to be nice to impatient customers. I'll just leave it at that!
OMC: Do you go out to bars when you're not working? Do you have a favorite bartender?
SG: I mean sometimes, but not usually. I probably go to a bar, maybe once a month, give or take a day. I just feel like I'm already out when I'm bartending. So when I get a night off, I usually spend it at home. If I'm not at home, I'm at a friend’s house or hanging out with family.
OMC: Beer, wine or cocktails?
SG: None of the above. I am into Champagne! Insert music here: Rupert Holmes’ "Escape."
- Fill pint glass with ice
- Muddle five blackberries and an orange slice
- 1 ounce rosemary simple syrup
- Fill with Somersby Cider
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.