For Fly Bar’s Ehren Reed, making drinks is an art 

Fly Bar In a homey and cultured neighborhood bar, a mixologist plays an important part. Mixed-media artist Ehren Reed works behind the plank at Fly Bar to serve our every need — as a new customer or a friend. With a down-to-earth decor, the bar, which has another location in the Western Addition, offers a convivial experience with the staff, whose dedication comes through in the glass.

Fly Bar, 1085 Sutter St, (415) 441-4232, www.flybarandrestaurant.com/sf2

Can you tell us what your process is for putting a drink together?
I taste along the way. It’s very intuitive. There’s a formula, which you have your base liquor, counterbalancing agent, something sweet but also acidic. You can always tell if something is missing. You can’t have one thing overpower the other. It’s an art.

Do you ever base your drinks off the customer’s mood? Absolutely. We get that a lot. People come and don’t know what they want. For example, someone would ask, “Make me something fun!” Then I would ask which liquor they prefer, clear or brown, and go from there. You want to engage in someone’s taste.

How did you end up here? I used to work at Solstice bar, which is an upscale place and owned by the same company. Then I moved over here and started working at both places. I later realized I needed to downshift a little bit to a low-key neighborhood bar. The clientele at Fly is very eclectic, down to earth and super chill. We get a lot of folks who live around the area and a lot of camaraderie.   

What is something that people come here for? They come for the staff and a combination of food and drinks. People like the food because it’s good, healthy and rarely expensive.

What’s the concept for the drinks here? The cocktail offerings touch every base as far as what people’s base interest might be and to try to do something creative. We try to have a broad appeal while adding something new and different.

Can you tell me the history of this place? Before we moved into this place, it was a diner and bar called Tappe’s, a greasy-spoon type of place that was in service for 30 years. Then later, it became Brick Bar … which was more of a fine-dining restaurant. Then it changed to Fly three years after as more of a homey, neighborhood bar.

What do you look for from other bartenders when you go out? I look for warmth and friendliness. As a bartender, if you pretend you don’t have the time and day to help or serve you, it makes your experience terrible as a customer.

The Breezy

  • 1.5 oz gin
  • 1 oz. Campari
  • 1.5 oz. grape fruit juice
  • Splash of soda water
  • Lime wedge

Combine gin, Campari, juice in glass filled with ice. Top with soda and garnish with lime.

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Bryan Vo

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