I love when a new gay bar opens in the community, or technically an old new gay bar. I went to an opening event at the Silver Fox (740 Burgundy St., formerly Rawhide) as they premiered their new craft cocktail menu and discovered my bartender spotlight there. Fernando Rodriguez is a wonderful addition to the bartending scene in NOLA.
Originally from Houston, Fernando moved here in 2001 to attend Loyola University New Orleans. And like so many of our fellow citizens, he stayed after graduation and has lived in the city for over 20 years. I have heard so many stories of people who came to New Orleans for school and stayed; thanks to schools like Tulane, Loyola, Dillard and Xavier for helping populate our communities. Before jumping behind the bar, he worked as a paralegal for ten years, and obtained a Masters degree and a PhD.
Fernando worked at Rawhide for two months before it transitioned to The Silver Fox. “The new manager, Eli Willingham, asked me to stay on as a bartender which I agreed to and have worked here since the opening two months ago.”
Previously, Fernando worked for a short time at Betty’s and later The Bourbon Pub for a year. In his relatively short time in this profession, he has already gained quite a following of locals and, in this city, if the locals love you, you are golden.
Since Fernando has only been bartending at Silver Fox for a few months, he has not created any specialty drinks or cocktails, but he has become quite versed at perfecting their impressive craft cocktail menu. He says, “I can make you a fabulous drink from our current menu, but stay tuned because I am taking on the challenge of crafting my own drink that people will enjoy.”
Not only are Fernando’s bartending skills top notch, but he possesses a soft spoken charm that is endearing. At the opening event, he quickly made the specialty libations with very little wait. Which is a good thing as people want unique drinks, but don’t want to wait long periods of time to get them.
When Fernando goes out and about with friends, his go-to beverage of choice is either Bourbon and Coke or Bud Light, rarely straying from those drinks. But the cocktail he has quite perfected and his favorite to make is the Gais 75, which is the Silver Fox’s take on the French 75. The drink’s lavender appearance makes it aesthetically pleasing, but he especially enjoys the look on people’s faces when they take their first sip, and even more so when they ask for another.
Fernando credits his ability to talk with anyone on a variety of subjects and make people feel at ease as his winning asset as a bartender. He believes beginning and sustaining a conversation is an important part of being a bartender. “I try to make everyone who enters the bar feel welcome. Sometimes flashing them a smile is all it takes to make someone’s day.” When asked what was the craziest thing he has seen behind the bar, he just laughs, “All I’m going to say is I worked at Rawhide for two months. I’ll leave it at that.”
“What I like about being a bartender at the Silver Fox is the ability to converse with a wide range of people, whether they be local or tourists. Being located at the crosspath of three hotels, many people who walk in here are from out of town, sometimes even coming in from other countries. Having the opportunity to speak with and learn about where people come from is something I enjoy.”