"One of my strengths - my few hidden talents - was when I was in L.A., I could tell within minutes if somebody was on a match.com date."
Name: Bobby Singh
Years behind the bar: 15
How'd you get into bartending?
After college I went to Europe. I worked as a waiter and finagled my way into the bar. Then I moved out to L.A., got a job at Houston's and I kind of finagled my way into the bar there, too. I really didn't have a whole lot of experience, but it's not rocket science. It's challenging, but it's not rocket science.
Why did you move back here?
I was out there for a while writing, trying to make it as a screenwriter. I studied film in college.
And I kind of lost the wind in my sails - I didn't have the success I wanted to. I got close a couple of times, but it never really materialized. I decided to move back, and I was a little scared. But as soon as I moved back, absolutely no regrets about it.
So what are your favorite movies?
"The 400 Blows" by Francois Truffaut really shook me up. I never imagined you could make a movie that personal and inventive.
I love the Coen Brothers' "Miller's Crossing" - that movie is almost flawless. Years ago I ran into the guy who played Johnny Caspar. He's one of the few I ever went up to. I said, "I've got to tell you something: You killed in 'Miller's Crossing.'" I think he liked it because it was genuine.
What makes a good bartender?
Knowledge of drinks is last. It's more about being organized because things move faster. So your organizational skills, mentally and the bar itself, have to be dead-on to be efficient.
The other part is being able to read people. Some people want to talk, but some people want to be left alone.
One of my strengths - my few hidden talents - was when I was in L.A., I could tell within minutes if somebody was on a match.com date.
How could you tell?
I know it sounds weird, but it was just one of those things where I could just look at people and see how they talked to each other - or, more importantly, how they sat next to each other. That nonverbal language tells a huge story.