Crust’s speakeasy, Ostrich Bar, is sort of like the bird. It’s hidden, but it does take flight — with its creative cocktail menu.
At the helm is general manager Andrew Pybon. He started his career busing tables at Olive Garden, and now solely creates Ostrich Bar’s drink menu. He had a slew of bartending jobs that paved his way to Ostrich Bar, so Entertainment Magazine took the time to learn about his journey and what he concocted for the Ostrich Bar.
Tell us about your career as a bartender.
Actually, I started bartending randomly as hell. I worked at Olive Garden in Casa Grande. We’re talking like in 2012, a long time ago. I was a busser at the time and the nighttime bartender called off. They said, ‘Hey, do you want to bartend?’ I wasn’t sure. Someone showed me how to use all of the equipment. There was a Rolodex that had all the recipes. Then I just did my thing. It was like a Wednesday night super slow night. I liked it. It was fun. I liked interacting with the guests. I liked making the drinks. I felt like I was in my element already, even though I was definitely out of my element. They noticed I liked it and that I did a good job. They offered to train me into the bartending position. I took it upon myself to absorb as much knowledge as I possibly could. After that, I went into dive bars and I worked there for a long time and I learned the speed aspect of bartending and just like slamming out drinks and shots and drinks and shots all day long.
After that, one of my buddies was opening a higher-end Mexican restaurant and was looking for someone to run that bar, so I took that over. His brother got me into the craft scene by showing me a few random syrups and then, from there, I did my own due diligence of learning a bunch of classics and learning how to make random stuff from scratch, different syrups and cordials and stuff.
Then I started working at Caffe Boa on Mill Avenue. I was its head bartender for five years and that’s where I really cut my teeth in the craft scene. Then I was looking for a different place to do the same thing that was more of a bar and less of a restaurant and I ended up here. I applied to just be a bartender and they were looking for a bar manager, so I took on that role.
I took over this bar as the general manager immediately after COVID. We did our quarantine thing and we shut down briefly. We did to-go cocktails for a little while and I was in charge of that. Then, when we reopened, I took over and it has been a year and some change now of just running the show. It’s been fun. It’s been hard, but it’s been worth it 100%.
What is the oddest ingredient you’ve ever used in a cocktail?
I don’t know. There are so many odd ingredients. Anything from Calabrian chili oil to making a shrub out of pickles and rosemary. Honestly, anything we use is weird because I use random stuff. We make a lot of our own syrups from scratch. You’ll see me use ingredients like all spice berries or almond milk. We make our own mango jalapeno syrup. The list of ingredients is only getting longer. The weirdness is getting less weird as I go. It was weird at first but now it’s not weird at all.
What has been your favorite memory working behind the bar?
Oh man! There have been so many. Honestly, my favorite memory is any time I get a really cool connection with a guest beyond your basic ‘Hi, how are you? What do you want to drink?’ That happens more frequently than you would think. It’s so strange because I’ll run into people I haven’t seen in decades. It’s crazy, but it’s the best feeling ever. I love it.
What is your go-to drink when you are at a bar other than your own?
If I’m out drinking with friends and we are at a regular bar, I’m an IPA shot of tequila kind of guy. But if we are going to like a cocktail place, the first drink I will order every time is a daiquiri, like a classic daiquiri is just rum, lime juice and syrup. That’s where I gauge the credibility of the bartender, I guess. If they can’t make a daiquiri, then I don’t want to order anything else from them. I’ll just order beer or something else.
Best piece of advice for someone looking to get into this industry.
First off, don’t do it. This industry is so hard. Nah, I’m just kidding. The best piece of advice for someone trying to get into the industry is go out a lot. Go out and have drinks with your friends at a lot of different places and do different things to get a feel of what you like out of cocktails or bars in general. Then you’ll get a better feel of where you want to work.
From there just be annoying. Go in all the time and ask for a job. Show not only that you are determined, but that you are stubborn as hell and really want to work there because all of us bartenders are the most stubborn people in the world. Anytime I have given someone advice about getting into the bar industry, I say start out as a host or a busser or a bar back. It’s a lot of knowledge. I spent a number of years studying because I didn’t have a mentor. Many notable bartenders have some kind of a mentor. I mentored myself by just doing my own research.
What does ordering a vodka tonic say about a person?
It makes me feel like they are probably old, because usually people who drink tonic are people that have cramps in their muscles so they need to drink that stuff. Tonic is so gross. I hate tonic so much. However, if someone comes into my bar and orders a vodka tonic, I won’t even bat an eye. I’ll just make is and serve it with a smile.
I’m not the kind of person who is going to talk you out of whatever drink you like because, at the end of the day, your happiness is how I make money. If I am going to try and talk you into something that you don’t like and you are unhappy, I’m not going to get an as enjoyable experience out of you and you’re not going to pay me as much money. I would much rather make you a vodka soda, vodka tonic or whatever the heck you make at home. I’ll make it better than you and you’ll love it.
Tell us about the beverage program at The Ostrich Bar.
We’re a speakeasy bar. We definitely emulate the 1920s as much as we can, so our bread and butter is classics. About 80% of our cocktail menu are classic cocktails either from the Prohibition Era or before. The originals are my own invention. This is my first full-blown menu that I have made from scratch by myself.
What drink would you like us to feature?
Bone Apple Tea ($12).
What do you like about the drink?
This drink is whiskey-based but it’s not super strong. It’s pretty palatable for anybody who loves drinks or doesn’t love drinks.
Bone Apple Tea
1 ounce rye whiskey
1 ounce Boulard Calvados apple-flavored brandy
3/4 ounce lemon juice
3/4 ounce cinnamon syrup
1/2 ounce Gran Gala orange-flavored brandy
Start with lighting a cinnamon stick on fire and smoke
a short glass. Combine ingredients in shaker and shake
together with ice. Take the glass off of the smoking
cinnamon stick. Double strain into the glass. Add ice.
Garnish with smoking cinnamon stick and orange bitters.
The Ostrich: Speakeasy Lounge
In the basement of Crust Chandler
10 N. San Marcos Place, Chandler
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