The summertime may be slow for other businesses, but it seems that the bar industry is always busy. There is no better place to escape the brutal heat of a New Orleans summer than relaxing in a bar drinking a cool beverage and chatting with fascinating people. My bartender spotlight is the fabulous Andy Savage who can be found slinging drinks at Betty’s Bar & Bistro.
Andy grew up outside of Boston, and first came to New Orleans for college ten years ago. After school, he moved to New York City. When COVID brought the industry down, he made the decision to return to the Crescent City. He is Betty’s newest bartender starting four months ago. His normal shift is Saturday night, but you can find out his schedule by following him on his instagram page at @andylsavage.
Besides having a great soap opera (or action star) name, Andy Savage is an amazing bartender – quick, efficient and extremely personable. He exudes a happiness about his job that shines through. Describing working as a bartender, Andy says, “What I love about bartending is getting to meet and talk to all different kinds of people. Working in the French Quarter, people have LOTS of good stories they love to tell their bartender, and I love to hear them. Since it is a high density tourist area, I get to meet people from all over. It’s always interesting to hear what LGBTQ+ life is like in other cities and countries. What I love specifically about Betty’s is that it is a couple blocks off of Bourbon Street, so we still get a lot of tourists, but we also have some really loyal regulars and neighborhood folks.”
With that positive attitude, it is easy to see why Andy is popular among locals as well as visitors. In addition to a wonderful personality, he has impressive mixology skills. Betty’s has a new and tasty Earl Grey Gin from Corgi Spirits. Andy used it to create his own libation where the gin is mixed with some fresh squeezed lemon juice, simple syrup, and a dash or two of bitters; shaken and poured over ice, it’s served with a lemon. It’s a simple, but perfectly refreshing cocktail for a summer day in New Orleans.
When Andy goes out, however, he tends to stick to clear liquors. “I love citrus, so give me a gimlet any day and I’ll be happy. I am also always happy to have a sour beer on a hot day by the pool.”
It takes a lot of skills to be a good bartender, but one important thing is to make yourself memorable to your guests; that is the key to getting patrons to return. Andy does that effortlessly with his humor, professionalism, winning smile, and boy next door sexiness. He explains, “I am a trained actor, and have been doing professional theater, singing, and dance for 10+ years. Bartending is really just performing. Being behind the bar is like a stage, and the patrons are the audience. I have the skills to engage with people, make them laugh, and show them a good time, just like you would in theater and improv. I love it.”
Working in NOLA, and especially the French Quarter, comes with lots of weird experiences, but Andy said the most unusual thing that happened to him was in another city. “I was bartending at a nice, but tiny restaurant in New York City. It was a very slow night, and all of a sudden about ten dancers dressed as life size LEGO people (giant round yellow heads included) burst through our doors with boomboxes blasting techno music. It scared me, and I thought ‘Wow, this is the moment I die.’ But I soon realized it was just for fun and I joined the party. They left as fast as they came in and that was it. It was truly bizarre.”
Coming off the effects of the COVID pandemic, one of the questions I ask everyone in the industry is how did it affect them and what do they see as the future of our industry. Andy’s answer was sincere and very well put.
“COVID absolutely affected my career. I was bartending at a gay club in NYC’s Hell’s Kitchen, when the first wave hit. All of the staff and regulars at the bar got very sick at the beginning of March 2020, myself included. One of our regulars was the first reported COVID death in the state of New Jersey. Another regular was the first reported flight attendant to die from it. It was heartbreaking. The bar ended up closing for good, and the shutdown forced me to move home to my parents’ house for six months before moving back down to New Orleans. I think the industry is forever changed because of COVID. A lot of my fellow service industry friends learned that they’ve got to put themselves and their health before anything else. Bartenders and servers have historically put up with a lot of unfair, unethical situations, and I think COVID has taught a lot of us about our worth, and not sticking with jobs that don’t treat us right. If you’re looking to cool down (or heat up, whatever the case may be) this summer, go to Betty’s and get a libation from Andy and enjoy the show. Betty’s Bar & Bistro is located at 700 Burgundy Street.