(Published in the September 2010 issue)
From the looks of him, Analog Music + Burger Bar bartender Aaron “A-Fresh” Thompson looks to have quite the wild side. He’s got tattoo sleeves on both arms, a bed-head hairstyle and a fashion sense that would make the rock band Kings of Leon jealous. But a note to those ladies trying to flag him down at the bar: don’t be so quick to think you’re flirting with a bad boy.
“I’m the son of a preacher,” says Thompson. “Coming up as a kid, I was kept from the secular world.”
Now that he’s grown up, bourbon isn’t the only thing he traded in his bible for. When he isn’t slinging Colt 45 tallboys at Analog or glasses of wine at Vin de Syrah, Thompson’s running Let It Ride Design, a merchandise printing company that has worked with local bars and bands including Dashboard Confessional and Angels and Airwaves. A veteran of the music scene, he also plays in two bands and hosts Analog’s weekly karaoke night.
“I think the owner of Analog knew I was in a band, so he just said, ‘Okay, that means you can talk on a mic in front of people,’” Thompson says. “It’s cool because it gives me a break from doing the bartending all the time.”
PacificSD: So, your dad was a Christian preacher. How does he feel about his son’s chosen professions?
Thompson: I don’t think he would have chosen any of the stuff I do, but he’s cool. He tolerates and supports it as much as he can.
What are the best parts of working at Analog?
Thompson: I love how social it is, and I think the music they play is more geared towards people like me. It’s not the typical house and electro music they play at other places.
Thompson: People stress about it too much. Who cares if you’re good? Just show up with friends, have a couple drinks and don’t worry about it. Have fun.
I bet some of the ladies get flirty with you.
Thompson: Oh, yeah. But my job is to be social, so I take it with a grain of salt.
Do they ever tell you that they’ll have what you’re having?
Thompson: Yeah, and then I’ll plunk down a double shot of rye whiskey and watch them go, ‘Uh, what are you talking about?’ [laughs] But then I’ll give them what they really want and take the whiskey for myself.
In terms of trendiness, are malt liquor tallboy cans the new Pabst Blue Ribbon tallboys?
Thompson: I don’t know, man, I can’t drink that stuff anymore. It reminds me of living in a tour van with nine dudes and not having much beer money. I think most people drink them to be cool, because I throw away half-full ones 90 percent of the time. Nobody finishes them.
If you had to choose, which one is the best?
Thompson: Colt 45. It’s the lesser of the evils.A
nd because Billy Dee Willaims used to say, ‘It works every time,’ in those ‘80s commercials?
Thompson: Dude, I grew up in a Christian household. I wasn’t even allowed to watch TV! [laughs].
Favorite hangover spots: “Small Bar and Lei Lounge have a legit Sunday brunch. There’s a place called 94th Aero Squadron by this airfield [Montgomery Field Airport], where you can eat brunch and watch planes come out on this airstrip.”
Specialty drink: “I can make a mean mule [vodka, ginger beer and lime juice]. I like the old-school stuff. Anything with whiskey and bourbon. I’m not into the foofy, neon-pink stuff.”
Biggest tip: $400 bucks off a $100 tab at Vin de Syrah from “some rich yacht guy.”
Notable celebrity customers: “When Comic-Con was in town, Seth Green was in Analog; and when I was over at Syrah, I met Dan Akroyd, because we carry his vodka.”