It’s about 5:30 p.m. on Tumbleweed Tuesday at Southampton Publick House. The bulk of the lunch crowd is long gone, with a couple of stragglers remaining on the back patio, soaking up that sweet early evening, late summertime air. Through the backdoor towards the front of the low key but spacious sports bar and beer Mecca, a couple of early-bird parties are scattered around the dining room ready to chow down on some of the South Fork’s most tasty and tastefully done pub food around.
The front bar is empty, as the hostess bids a few more patrons farewell and the daytime bartender (shout out to the absolutely lovely Dick Clair!) pours out a few last pints and then quietly starts counting out his end-of-shift till.
A few minutes later enters Kaylee Andersen, a five-year bartender at the beloved Jobs Lane locale. Upon her arrival, at least three of her colleagues gather to greet her at the service bar area. She takes off her coat behind the stick, says a quick hello to everyone and begins restocking pint glasses, changing the printer paper for service bar tickets, and arranging a couple of empty bus tubs for dinner service.
Once that’s all settled, she grabs a pint glass and fills it with ice. She empties a tiny packet of electrolyte powder in it, fills it with water and chugs it. Andersen is, for lack of a better term, active. With a day gig as a tennis instructor at East Hampton Indoor Tennis, she splits her nighttime restaurant shifts between her respective “houses”: Publick and Club House. She’s a busy woman, and a calm one at that, as she glides across her 15-seat bar holding full glasses of pilsner and white wine (usually two to a hand) to incoming guests.
Although funny and sweet, with a great dead-pan delivery and work-smarter-not-harder vibe, you can tell she’s not messing around, as she busses three people’s empty plates, pours another pint, then slides back to service bar to finish a ticket and grab a new order of wings from the food runner. Aside from being a pro at crafting cocktails, pouring perfect pints and topping off sips of wine with ease, she can single-handedly change a keg from her middle-of-the bar tap system and start wheeling the empty one out, all the while weaving between a co-worker, also behind the bar, who’s firing up whatever match from the U.S. Open was requested by a guest on two of the resto’s 21 big screen TVs.
Once that’s all done, the bar that she’s helming solo is full, with most ordering something to eat and everyone, including the handful of people who couldn’t snag a stool, ordering something to drink.
In addition to her steady shifts on Saturday and Monday nights at Publick House, Andersen has been the go-to gal for slinging drinks at the Southampton staple’s widely popular dart night, typically held during her Tuesday night shift in the off season.
“I’ll have about a dozen, maybe more, guys here consistently each week on dart night,” she says of her wintertime Tuesdays.
Originally from Delray Beach, Florida, the East Hampton resident began her South Fork restaurant career at 75 Main, that is “until Sully [long-time Publick House owner Don Sullivan] poached me,” she says with a smile, as she pours off two more DogFish IPA’s and quickly delivers them to the other end.
After working a few seasons at the outdoor back bar, Andersen’s easy-going, less-is-more way of working allowed her to move up to the highly coveted spot she’s now held for years: tending bar inside at one of the OG sports bars on the East End.
“You have to earn inside,” she says of her position, noting the popular Southampton watering hole and eatery brings in folks from all walks of life, including some of the area’s most die-hard and loyal sports fans.
“It’s just a more laid-back vibe here,” she says matter-of-factly. “I’ve figured out I prefer that much more.”
Famous for its myriad beer selection, Publick House originally crafted their own brews in house, at their old Bowden Square address a few blocks away from their current location. Now, their taps line up is a bit more mainstream, offering familiar favorites along with craft beers, plus a slew of wines by the glass and specialty cocktails.
When it comes to drinking herself, Andersen, seems like a purist. With a penchant for Jameson picklebacks (a girl after our own heart!) she’s also a fan of the Southampton Palmer, a light and refreshing vodka-based play on an Arnold Palmer that features literally three ingredients: Deep Eddy Lemon vodka (which already comes lightly sweetened with pure cane sugar) lemonade, and iced tea. After combining the ingredients in no time at all, she gives it a good shake and dumps it into a poco grande glass (for some extra fun) and garnishes with a lemon wedge. Contrary to popular belief, less is almost always more when it comes to good cocktails, and in the best ones you can’t taste the booze. Andersen’s iteration of this no-frills concoction is totally crushable. So, if you’re in Southampton and need a little something to wet your whistle, go visit her at Publick House. Even if you’re just drinking water, like she probably is, you’ll be glad you did.
- 1.5 oz Deep Eddy Lemon vodka
- 2 oz unsweetened iced tea
- 2 oz lemonade
- 1 lemon wedge (for garnish)