Profile: Robert "Fun Bobby" Birmingham
Robert Birmingham (a.k.a. Fun Bobby), 38, towers over the Valley nightclub scene. This 6-foot-6 beer-busting beanstalk is one of the Valley's "StarTenders" -- or celebrity bartenders -- famous for his mixology mastery, suds-slinging, and affable nature. He's seen many an Auld Lang Syne during his 12 years behind the sticker-laden bar at Hollywood Alley in Mesa.
Alcoholics unanimous: Some people, if they're drinking for sport normally, then on New Year's Eve they're drinking like it's the Super Bowl. You're so busy you can't get to the same person too frequently and it keeps you from getting someone super drunk. And if you haven't paid for at least one customer's cab home by the end of the night, you're not that great a bartender.
Freaks and geeks: New Year's isn't the craziest night of the year, but it has a certain flavor where the freakiest people come out from under their rocks, and it's like amateur night. They'll order sentence-long drinks they've heard about but have no idea what's in it. Like, "Can you make a Flaming Blue Jesus Against the Wall?" You usually get away with making them anything, as long as it's the color they asked for.
Being a celebrity bartender: People think you're their best friend; like you'll sell alcohol after 2 a.m. or have drinks with them. They think I'm from [Amsterdam] or something and I'm gonna smoke spliffs and do shots. I appreciate people's enthusiasm for having me wait on them, but sometimes it's a curse.
Record-setting drinks: There's certain drinks I've become known for, like Bloody Marys. I got a thank you on a friend's liner notes on his record he did: "To Fun Bobby, the Desert Prince of Hospitality and the Kung-Fu Godfather of the Bloody Mary."
Instant assholes -- just add alcohol: Any kind of bad behavior you can think of happens on New Year's Eve, when a whole mob drinks more than they should. I'm speaking about a minority, but they think it's their own personal holiday where no rules apply. Lately, with the DUI laws becoming stricter, it's not always crazy busy 'cause everybody's so damn afraid to go out.
Get the Arts and Theater Newsletter
Weekly information keeping you in the know when it comes to the Phoenix art and theater scene. Find out about upcoming performances, exhibitions, openings and special events.