Blair Redington is a staple at San Marco’s upscale watering hole, Town Hall.
If Blair Redington were a drink, he’d be a whiskey neat: there’s a touch of redolence under the bite in his deadpan tone. His warm, straightforward service could only come from being the local barkeeper for as long as he has – when it comes to the neighborhood, he’s seen it all from behind the bar.
Twenty years ago as a high school student at Bishop Kenny, Redington started bussing tables at a San Marco restaurant led by Chef Tom Gray. His family home was just a few blocks down from San Marco Square. After coming back from college, he soon became a barback, and before long, he was mixing drinks behind the bar.
Redington made his way up and down the neighborhood working at various bars, and at the end of quarantine returned to Historic San Marco to work under Chef Tom again at the charming Town Hall.
“It was a lot of familiar faces and it just grew on me … I said, ‘This is where I want to be, I want to be back in the neighborhood,’” said Redington, “I’ve always loved working in this neighborhood because you see a lot of the same faces. It’s very comfortable.”
Redington has been through the many phases of bartending since the early 2000s. He first became a bartender in the “martini age,” when fruity, sugary drinks served up in fancy glasses were all the rage. As the classics started coming back, cocktail chefs started making their own mixes leading up to a time of craft cocktails: balanced beverages with carefully concocted notes and flavors.
Craft cocktails emphasize fresh ingredients, and few bartenders make them as fresh as Redington does at Town Hall. Each juice is hand-squeezed and every syrup is made by hand by the bar team. A selection of shrubs (concentrated drinks made from sugar, fruit, herbs and vinegar) is also made fresh.
Thus Redington has hands-on experience with every ingredient behind his bar, having had his hands on much of what he mixes into the drinks himself.
“Sometimes it’s a little labor intensive, but I think it creates some of the best cocktails, as well. Especially making it yourself, you get to control the quality of everything,” said Redington.
Over the years, the bar team has crafted the seasonally-rotated cocktail list by hand. They mix original specialty drinks in their off-time behind the bar, playing off of each other’s ideas of what the beverages could use for the perfect balance and flavor.