Hey, Bartender: Behind the Scenes at The Famous Neons Unplugged

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NAME: Kelsey Iker
BAR: The Famous Neons Unplugged, Over-the-Rhine
SUMMER DRINK OF CHOICE: Tequila and ginger beer

Kelsey Iker was a bartending newbie when she talked her way into a job at this OTR institution. Four years later, she’s building a career in the industry that embraced her.

How did you convince the Neons crew to give you a chance? They were hesitant to hire me because I had no bartending experience, but I convinced them that if I could sling drinks at a coffee shop, I could sling drinks at a bar. Whether they need their alcohol or coffee, people are grumpy.

When did you start feeling like a pro? I was super passionate about grooming myself, basically. I made notecards for shots and cocktails. I worked my butt off. Within the first year, I was like I got this. I love it so much; I don’t want to do anything else.

How has the Neons clientele evolved? It used to be local, and it still is. It’s local, service industry folks. It’s a lot of people who’ve been living in OTR for years. And on the weekends, it’s college kids on the Pedal Wagon. People from the suburbs come down. And we’re like the backyard of OTR. Everyone’s welcome.

What’s a good day to come down? I’ve worked Sundays for four years and it’s my favorite shift. People come to relax.

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