Mixologist: Skye Blair of James' Club 88

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Neighborhood: Merion Village

Hometown: Yuba City, California

Years behind the bar: Eight

Skye Blair might be the only bartender who moved to Columbus for the weather. "After Katrina it was like, OK, I need to pick a part of the country where there are no hurricanes," he said. Today the California native who spent seven pre-Katrina years in New Orleans tends bar at James' Club 88.

What's your recipe for success?

I try to cater my drink to the person. I ask the customer how they want their drink to taste. You can always win someone over with a good drink. I do try to make people laugh, though. It's a combination of both - good drinks and fun people.

Is there a bartender you admire?

I worked for Bourbon Pub [in the French Quarter] - there was a bartender there named Little David. He was personable with everybody. He made every customer feel like they were the only person there.

How did you get your first job?

I started out in security in New Orleans and worked my way into bar back. I recommend that for everybody. When you work your way through, you learn a little bit about the people and also about the drinks, and the bartenders are usually willing to teach you.

What's your most popular drink?

My Granny Apple Pie Martini and my Blue Skye Martini. The Blue Skye Martini was the first martini I created at James' Club. For Valentine's Day, I made a strawberry daiquiri with vanilla vodka and French vanilla [non-dairy creamer]. People really liked it.

What's your least favorite drink to make?

A drink with a whole lot of juices in it.

How would you describe the scene at your bar?

It's what you'd feel if you were back in the '40s. It's comfortable and you can sit and lounge and talk over the music and not scream.

What's your favorite place for happy hour?

The best place for happy hour is James' Club when Charles, one of our favorite regulars, gets up and plays [piano]. He's amazing and everyone loves him. If you're lucky enough to catch him, you'll be treated to a great performance.