The (Totally Unofficial) Lego Bartender Collection

Brad Thomas Parsons talks with Andrew Bohrer, bartender, spirits educator and confessed AFOL (Adult Fan of Lego) about casting the world’s top bartenders in plastic.

Dave Wondrich

Bohrer admits the Gandalf beard (lifted from a Lord of the Rings Lego set) on the wise and wondrous David Wondrich is overkill compared to the cocktail historian's actual signature facial hair but adds: "It's overkill that stems from beard respect."

Erick Castro

Bohrer on Polite Provision's Erick Castro: "’I'm a little demon and I'm going to do something wrong, but I'm happy about it.’ The Castro smile is sort of an evil smile." Castro's rocking a German Oktoberfest head with a Lego Studios werewolf torso.

Paul Clarke

The Seattle spirits journalist is sporting the head of a Steven Spielberg-like film director minifig featured in a Lego Studios collection. "Spielberg was either flattered or his lawyers were on vacation."

Dale DeGroff

King Cocktail may be sporting an ordinary off-the-shelf Lego tuxedo, but his head once belonged to the bad guy from a Lego spy set. "I saw that big toothy grin and I was like, yep, that's Dale DeGroff. When you meet him he is incredibly inclusive and has the soul of a bartender."

Ivy Mix

Bohrer captures the distinctive smirk of the Clover Club bartender using a rare series 6 Lego Skater Girl head. Ivy's outfit is made complete with a Speed Rack pink sleeveless T-shirt.

Jim Meehan

PDT's Jim Meehan's minifig head once belonged to a "humble construction worker" and his ensemble is rounded out with a gangster torso and "stylish pants from a Lego baseball player."

Damon Boelte

Brooklyn bartender Damon Boelte comes to life in the form of this badass, bitters-loving minifig. "I don't know this guy, but I hear he loves Underberg and that makes me love him."

Robert Hess

"Robert has a Lego bus driver's head. When you run into him at a non-cocktail event he's just a regular guy from Seattle who drives a Subaru and isn't too interested in small talk. This is the low-key guy I know."

Charlotte Voisey

Bohrer considers his interpretation of the popular globetrotting mixologist—composed of a fright night witch torso with an "it girl" head—as more of the Small Screen Network Charlotte than the guest-bartending Charlotte.

Jamie Boudreau

The head of the Seattle barman and proprietor of Canon Whiskey & Bitters Emporium comes from the 2003 Werewolf Ambush Lego set. Along with his trademark vest, Bohrer considers the smirk an essential aspect of Jamie Boudreau.

Don Lee

According to Bohrer, Cocktail Kingdom's Don Lee "suffers from a thing similar to myself: he just doesn't have a consistent look." We think he nailed it.

Brad Thomas Parsons

An unsolicited Lego-ization of the author of this article. Dressed in Boher's interpretation of the "secret jacket given to James Beard Award winners" (lifted from a Lego sea captain) topped with a head last seen on a Lego leprechaun and Ron Weasley's hair.

Andrew Bohrer

And here is the man himself cast in plastic, with knight's head, an Indiana Jones torso, and Superman's wavy hair. Optional accessory: Boher's go-to Lego chainsaw, perfect for dispatching 300lb blocks of ice. His fiancée' Michelle legs are "tiny custom legs for short people."

He still hasn’t made a pilgrimage to Legoland, but when Andrew Bohrer visited the Lego Store at Rockefeller Center in New York City, he spent more time observing the ornate Lego sculpture of 30 Rock on display inside the store than he did soaking in the splendor of the actual building just across the plaza.

At a work table in a spare room in the Seattle home he shares with his fiancée Michelle Broderick, Bohrer maintains two industrial tool boxes containing a continuingly growing collection of thousands of  “disturbingly sorted” individual Lego pieces. Now Spirits Director for Vinum Wine Importing, Bohrer has worked at several of Seattle’s most influential bars—including Vessel, Mistral Kitchen and Rob Roy—and is also the author of The Best Shots You’ve Never Tried and the keeper of Cask Strength, his smart and always-opinionated spirits blog. While he likes to consider himself a spirits educator, he’s also an admitted AFOL (Adult Fan of Lego).

“One Lego head came out and I was like, goddamnit, that is Jim Romdall’s head,” recalls Bohrer. “It was uncanny. I was actually a little freaked out by it. But I made myself a Lego Jim Romdall and took it from there.”

Bohrer has loved Legos since he was a boy, but he reembraced them in his early 20s when he was going through personal effects stored at his parents’ house in preparation for a move to Seattle. While most of his childhood toys had been donated to charity, somehow the Legos survived. He found that sorting through the many loose sets of Legos and organizing the pieces by shape and color gave him “an OCD sense of calm.”

His passions for booze and Legos eventually crossed paths when he began immortalizing bartenders and spirits world personalities as Lego miniature figures (minifigs).  The first was Jim Romdall, his friend and colleague at the Seattle bar Vessel.

“One Lego head came out and I was like, goddamnit, that is Jim Romdall’s head,” recalls Bohrer. “It was uncanny. I was actually a little freaked out by it. But I made myself a Lego Jim Romdall and took it from there.” He started building minifigs of his bartender friends and people who influenced him in the industry. After posting his Lego rogues gallery on his blog many of the subjects adopted their Lego incarnations as their social media avatars.

Bohrer continues to hunt down rare and special pieces online and has even found accessories like Lego bottles, mugs, and wine glasses to accessorize his collection. The Harry Potter Lego sets have proved to be a sartorial gold mine.

“Bartenders dress like they’re in Harry Potter movies,” says Bohrer. “They may not want to believe it but it’s true. If they’re dressed to form they’re probably from a Harry Potter set.” Female minifigs have been problematic as Bohrer finds their facial expressions less descriptive. “You have to find a different way to express them.”

While you’re browsing through his bartender collection you might wonder why a major player like the flamboyant Gary Regan isn’t in the line-up. Bohrer has an answer: “Regan is a rough one. For me—and maybe it’s just because I’m jealous—it’s the hair. That man’s hair can’t be tamed by plastic.”

FROM AROUND THE WEB

Brad Thomas Parsons is the author of Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, which was the winner of the James Beard and IACP Cookbook Awards. Parsons received an MFA in writing from Columbia University, and his work has appeared in Bon Appétit and Food & Wine, among others. He is currently at work on a book about amaro to be published by Ten Speed Press. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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