Behind Bars: David Yee at Oddfellows Liquor Bar

Erica Thompson

Centered around fictional bar Paddy’s Pub, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” became FX’s first comedy hit. Now gearing up for its 14th season, the show is tied with “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” for the longest-running live-action comedy series.

More importantly, it’s the inspiration for a new menu at Oddfellows Liquor Bar in the Short North.

“A lot of people watch [the show] but don’t really talk about it,” said beverage director David Yee. So ordering from the menu becomes a bonding experience among customers. They can request a Wolf Cola or Riot Punch — named for actual drinks on the show — or pay homage to characters by drinking a Rickety Cricket or Charlie Work. The latter, Yee’s favorite, is a masterful tequila cocktail with a spicy kick.

Yee also created a drink in honor of the character Sweet Dee.

“On the show they call her a stupid bird,” Yee said. “I didn't really like the tone of that, so I just searched for another name.” The result, a riff on a Jungle Bird fruity cocktail, is called Mac’s Gym & Tonic. (Only superfans will be able to get the reference.)

Though Oddfellows prides itself on interesting menus, the draw is the setting, Yee said.

“There’s a ton of cocktail bars here [in Columbus], but there’s not a ton of them that are putting atmosphere first,” he said. “In my opinion, drinks are the afterthought. … You create an environment where your customer feels not only comfortable, but invigorated.”

Upon entering the cozy bar, one’s senses are immediately stimulated by the kitschy decor: a bear cutout in a bathtub, a WWF belt on a moose head, a Santa hat on a shark, and a leg lamp on the 100-year-old back bar are currently on display. Entertainment is also fostered by multiple events, including trivia, drunk spelling bees and the monthly cocktail club, All Due Respect.

Yee said he is careful to put the spotlight on the brand and not the bartenders. “It’s not about us,” he said. “I don’t like star-tender culture.”

But Oddfellows wouldn’t be as successful without the passion of its bartenders, many of whom juggle other careers and interests. For example, Yee has a graduate degree in creative writing.

“Five people who work here or who have worked here have all gone through the English program [at OSU],” he said. “Behind the bar here on Friday night, three of us have master’s degrees.”

Working at Oddfellows allows Yee to make a decent living while also bringing variety to his daily life.

“I would like to be a book author/bar owner,” he said. “But [I’m taking it] one step at a time.”