Toboggan Steve’s Wins First Friday Bar Fight

Published 11:15 am Thursday, September 7, 2023

Justin Tanner Brunson, a bartender at Toboggan Steve’s, described coming up with the drink that won the First Friday Downtown Barfight.
“It’s called strawberry limeade. We make it with the vodka from Thirteenth Colony. I’ll muddle some limes, put a little bit of lime juice, some simple syrup, vodka, and our handmade strawberry puree. I’ll shake that, pour it over the ice, and top it with some spice.”
Mr. Brunson said that he had started bartending relatively recently.
“I’ve been working here for four years, but I’ve probably only been really bartending for two.”
He described how he had first started working as a bartender for Toboggan Steve’s.
“I was working at the Chili’s in Albany. I quit on my birthday, because they wanted me to work a double that day, and I had plans here.”
“I had joined a fraternity here at the school, and one of the older brothers had already been working here for a bit. I guess he knew that I needed a job, so he let me come up here. That was about 2018. I’ve just been working here since then.”
He mentioned that the older bartenders had given him the basic advice.
“Don’t pour too heavy, don’t pour too light. They taught me what stuff goes well with each other, what mixes well, and stuff like that.”
However, much of what he learned came from experiments.
“I kind of just picked up a lot of it on myself when we lost some of the more experienced bartenders.”
“There’s plenty of time for me to sit here and play around and mess with stuff, make some concoctions and see what tastes good.”
He also described one of Toboggan’s Steve’s major draws.
“A lot of what pulls some of the people in, is that we’re trying to steer toward fresher drinks with fresh fruits. They see there’s fresh peaches in it, they’re automatically going to want that other than the artificial stuff.”
He talked about working with customers and adapting to different tastes.
“We’re very appreciative of our regulars. We have a good handful of people that keep our bills paid up here. And with regulars, they love to try new stuff.”
“Usually they come up here because they don’t know what they want, I’ll talk to them, ‘Well what kind of liquor do you like, do you like light, do you like dark, do you like fruity stuff, do you like strong stuff?’ Just sitting there trying to figure them out.”
“One lady, she just became one of our regulars, but I let her try that strawberry limeade before the bar fight. That’s her favorite drink now, so of course she came in and voted for it.”
He described adapting one popular drink.
“I had an older woman come in here, she doesn’t like vodka though, she was like, ‘Do you think it would be good with tequila?’ I was like, you know what, let’s try it.’ Instead of vodka we did patron, it was pretty good.”