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Cocktails

The (Totally Unofficial) LEGO Bartender Collection

October 29, 2013

Story: Brad Thomas Parsons

photo: Andrew Bohrer

Cocktails

The (Totally Unofficial) LEGO Bartender Collection

October 29, 2013

Story: Brad Thomas Parsons

photo: Andrew Bohrer

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.

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).

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.”