If you walk into the swanky, nook and cranny, Berlin’s Lounge at the A&B Lobster House on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday around 7 p.m., there’s a good chance you’ll find bartender Gage Beaulieu serving up of high-end whiskies to a discerning crowd of cigar smokers and connoisseurs.
Berlin’s is a modestly sized bar with leather club chairs and enchanting sunset views which features Bria Ansara, a soulful singer who croons classic love songs during the fall and winter season. During the summer you can keep yourself entertained by pretending that the person sitting next to you is a member of mafia. It has that kind of old New York City clubby vibe.
Let Gage shake you up an espresso martini made with Van Gogh vanilla vodka, Van Gogh espresso vodka, Kahlua and freshly brewed espresso and relax into acting like the grown up that you are. Or you can order from the full menu which includes old fashioneds and lobster thermidors, Manhattans and béarnaise-drenched filet mignons.
“It’s a great air-conditioned, cold bar, and if you’re a smoker then you can have a nice dinner along with your cigar,” Gage explains.
Walk off into the Afterdeck at Louie’s Backyard on a Monday evening around 7 p.m. and find Gage pouring glasses of fine wine and mixing the bar’s signature Island Cosmopolitans made with pineapple infused vodka, Cointreau and cranberry juice. The bar at the Afterdeck wraps like a half moon along the edge of a wide patio with an unpretentious beach hut vibe in an upscale tropical atmosphere. The best thing to do at this waterfront hangout is “to look up at the stars, feel the breeze and see the ocean,” Gage says. “We’ve got some of the most beautiful views.” Gage has been fortunate enough to enjoy the view here for five years.
And if you were to walk into Latitudes on Sunset Key after a short and romantic ferry ride any other day of the week then you might be surprised to find that Gage works here as well and has been here for the last three years off and on.
“It’s the best sunset spot for dinner on the island and it is just so awesome the way the lights look at night around the palm trees, but my schedule at Latitudes varies — you’ll have to be lucky to catch me here.”
Gage moved down to Key West from New Hampshire in 1998 to check things out. Somewhere at the beginning of his island love affair he went home to for a year and missed it so much that he made his way back down South as fast as he could and has no further plans to leave anytime soon.
“I don’t have too many bad days living here,” he smiles, with a contagious grin that goes from ear to ear. “The year I went home I had a lot of bad days, but here I don’t really have any. I’m pretty happy as it is now and hopefully everything stays the same.”
Gage learned the basics of mixology from his best friend’s aunt and put the skills to use after landing his debut gig at Kelly’s Caribbean Bar Grill and Brewery, now First Flight Island Restaurant and Brewery, when the previous owner, actress Kelly McGillis, was still the hostess. He also operated jet ski tours for Barefoot Billy’s, tried his hand at catering with Mangos and dabbled in a little bit of landscaping — “whatever would pay the bills” — but he is most comfortable behind the bar top. Actually, back it up, let me rephrase. He seems to be most comfortable behind one of three bar tops.
“I like having three different families. When you are in the industry you tend to work holidays and weekends so the people you work with become your family,” he says. “And I really like making people happy. Come and see me for a laugh. I usually have some sort of story to tell between the three restaurants.”
And if you are to see Gage enjoying a rare day off, go ahead and buy him a drink. He loves a good Captain and Coke —unless you spot him at the pool, where he enjoys an ice-cold beer. ¦
Berlin’s Cigar & Cocktail Bar 700 Front St. www.aandblobsterhouse.com
The Afterdeck at Louie’s Backyard 700 Waddell Ave. www.louiesbackyard.com
Latitudes Sunset Key www.sunsetkeycottages.com