Chris Doyle Remembers When The Job Of A Bartender Came With Salary, Room, and Board

Chris Doyle has been pulling pints since the tender age of seventeen. Hailing from Dublin, and now the incredibly zesty age of "somewhere around seventy," Doyle has spent the past thirty-three years pulling pints at Tom Bergin's.

A ball of energy, Doyle bounces from one end of the bar to the other illustrating where undercover cops once almost gave him a heart attack and television execs used to spend their lunch hours nose deep in martinis.

Chris Doyle at Tom Bergin's
Chris Doyle at Tom Bergin's
Deborah Stoll

Squid Ink: What was your first day of work?

Chris Doyle: Dec. 16, 1976. I remember it well. I followed the guy that was leavin' aroun' - everywhere he went I went. I'd been bartendin' in Dublin but it was totally different here.

SI: How so?

CD: Over there was no such ting as martinis for lunch - people'd be drinkin' pints 'a Guinness or Harp and then if somebody wanted a Screwdriver, they'd say "vodka and orange". I didn't know what the heck half of it was.

SI: What were some other interesting language barriers?

CD: "See ya' later," I thought well he's gotta' came back in the day later on but it could be a month you know! In Ireland we say, "I'll see ya' at five o'clock," or " I'll see ya' tomorrow." The one got me in most trouble was, "I'll knock you up at seven o'clock in the morning,'" that meant, "I'll give a knock to go to work."

SI: It doesn't mean "I'm gonna get you pregnant at seven o'clock in the morning?"

CD: That's what it means here but I didn't know that!

SI: What are your hobbies?

CD: I've written and published two books and almost finished a third one. The first is called Scallywags which is about a group of five of us when we was goin' to school and all the tings we did and trouble we got into. The second is Musings Of A Mixologist, and it's stories of what happened from the time I started workin' leadin' up 'til here. And the third one is the hardest one, I Remember is the name, and it's about thirteen people that I knew, really good friends and all of them passed away. Every chapter is their little life story.

SI: When do you like to write?

CD: Mornings. I can close my eyes and think back fifty, sixty years ago, tings that happened like it was yesterday.

SI: What's your favorite thing about bartending?

CD: I like meeting people. Like my best friend L.P. Carrington - he rambled in one day and had a drink and we talked and after about half an hour it was like we'd known each other all our life. But then about two months ago I got a phone call from my son and he says, "Skip is dead." I nearly drove the car over the side of the road. I still think about him.

Musings Of A Mixologist is dedicated to, "All My Deceased Bartender Comrades, R.i.p." For your own copy, visit Chris Doyle Friday days at Tom Bergin's.

Tom Bergin's Tavern: 840 S. Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles (323) 936-7151

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