Annette Guerino a mainstay at State Street Tavern
NORTH ADAMS — It's hard to see the walls at the State Street Tavern.
"Everybody in here has their own picture. Everybody's grandfather has their picture. Everybody's father, son, daughter has their picture up here," bartender Annette Guerino said on a recent Thursday afternoon, motioning toward the numerous framed images around the North Adams watering hole, which locals call the State Street T.
Guerino knows many of these patrons. The city native has worked at the bar since shortly after it opened. More than 35 years ago, Bob Cellana and Guerino's brother, Dennis St. Pierre, bought the space. While she once worked four or five nights a week, including the bar's popular Friday karaoke nights, Guerino is only taking orders on Thursdays currently. But she takes the bar with her wherever she goes.
"This is our neighborhood bar," she said. "This is where we grew up."
Q: What's the most common drink order you get here?
A: Well, it's different because we have a variety of people. Like, this is the afternoon-older-man-shift, [so] this shift is usually beers in highballs. Maybe some draughts. ... We get a younger crowd that comes in at night, and they'll drink more of the higher-end beers, the IPAs. Some of them like the old-school beers, like Schlitz, PBR, Narragansett.
Q: What's your favorite drink to make?
A: I enjoy the shots, making funky shots that taste like things, like oatmeal raisin cookie (butterscotch, Baileys, Goldschlager and Jagermeister) or carrot cake, chocolate cake. That's fun.
Q: What's your least favorite drink to make?
A: Long Island iced teas because when someone comes in here and asks for that, you know they want a really strong drink, and they just want to get really drunk. That stresses you out because you don't want to get somebody really drunk.
Q: What do people come in here and talk to you about the most?
A: Everything. It really is a sports bar, but more than that, it's a neighborhood bar. You have everybody here. Right now, you have electricians, plumbers. You get doctors in here, nurses in here, lawyers in here. They all get along. ... The older guys like sports. They love the horses. The older guys just love the horses. And then the younger crowd, they talk about music and politics — without fighting.
Q: What do you wish people talked to you about or asked you about more?
A: My favorite things are cooking and gardening and running. I love to run. My running friends come in here, and we talk about that. It doesn't matter who it is. It could be a 90-year-old man or my next-door neighbor that likes to talk about gardening, and you'd be surprised how many old men love to cook.
Q: What's the most common mistake people make when they order a drink?
A: Probably not realizing how much alcohol is in a certain drink, and I see, maybe, that they're young, so I try to steer them away from that. I can tell if they're young because they'll order, say you want to order a Captain Morgan and Coke, [which] is one of the most popular drinks ever anywhere. They'll order "a Coke with Captain Morgan in it." So, right away, I can tell they're young, and they're not used to drinking. I'll say, "Just put the [name of the liquor] ahead of the soda. That will make you sound like you know what you're talking about."
Q: When you're off the clock, what do you like to do?
A: I love the woods. My husband and I have been settling into a house near the woods. We've been working on that house. We're up by Windsor Lake. ... We snowshoe. We hike. We mountain bike daily.
Q: What should people know about bartending that, if they've never been a bartender, they might not know?
A: Probably that you need a lot of patience. Sometimes, there's somebody at one end of the bar telling you something so serious, or something about their life that they really need to tell you, while the person at the other end of the bar is tapping at the bar, wanting their drink right away. We have to have patience for both and try to keep them both happy. And, as far as the liability here, how you have to be really careful, especially nowadays, with people drinking too much.
Q: Have you ever wanted to own your own bar?
A: I think maybe when I was younger, it might have been exciting to me. But there's too many things to worry about now. There's too much liability.
Do you have some favorite bartenders? Are you afraid to ask them random questions about their lives? Contact Benjamin Cassidy at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @bybencassidy on Twitter or 413-496-6251 to nominate a bartender for this monthly series. You may just find the answers you're seeking.
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