The Pilsener Haus (1422 Grand Street) calls itself “North Jersey’s only authentic Biergarten,” and in turn, has become one of Hoboken’s most popular hangouts less than five years after its opening. With renowned chef Thomas Ferlesch at the helm, Pilsener Haus is more than just a place to grab a few beers. Events like Maifest—which offers “drink, eat and listen” options—and the Hoboken Comedy Festival are among the excitement that can be found in the family-friendly establishment.
Pilsener Haus bartender Andrew Chambers was kind enough to answer some questions for me, offering up a veteran bartender’s perspective on what life is both in front and behind the bar.
hMAG: What do you wish more people knew about bartending?
Andrew Chambers: “It’s a mug’s game”, as they say—on the surface, it might be perceived as a thankless job. But I disagree—it’s much deeper than that. We, as bartenders, are here to listen, advise, counsel, joke, and give whatever form of social release you can think of.
H: And what do you wish more people knew about you?
A: Well, I was born in Wolverhampton, West Midlands in central England, and came to the U.S. in 1982. I attended Eastside High, during the legendary Principal Joe Clark’s tenure. I’ve also lived in Orlando. But I don’t really think anyone needs to know that much more about me. What I mean by that is, this job is all about discovery. You come to me and we discuss what you drink, what your pastimes are, and maybe even your passion in life and so on. Conversation breeds a sort of relationship. That’s part of the reason we’re in this game.
H: Is there a “best part” about your job?
A: The “best part” of my job, and it does exist, has to be the enjoyment of working with like-minded people. And the conversations that evolve from the varying characters that amble into the bar.
H: Have you ever called yourself a “mixologist” under any circumstance?
A: I’ve mentioned the term in passing but I’ve never called myself a mixologist. It’s almost assumed. The term is gaining favor now after a rebirth over the last ten years or so. There exists a “total package” in this game and the aim must be to strive to be that way. At one point in my career I competed as a “flair” bartender. I say, “Take care of the small stuff and the rest falls into place.” Simply put yourself in the place of the guest in your establishment and nine times out of ten, you’ll have created the ultimate bar experience for them, whether they realize it or not.
H: What is the strangest drink request you’ve ever had?
A: Nothing strange really, I worked in corporate restaurants for many years. I’ve heard it all.
H: When you’re not at Pilsener Haus, where’s your favorite place to be in Hoboken?
A: I enjoy being anywhere along the waterfront, where I can enjoy the visual stimulation of the New York skyline.
H: Is Hoboken a small city or a large suburb?
A: It is borderline both, but I’m going to have to go with a small city. I put that down mainly to the parking.
H: Finally, any last words for the kids?
A: Visit the Pilsener Haus, because if it’s not about the beer, it’s about the food, the music, and the atmosphere. And it’s definitely about the bartenders!