Member Spotlight - Keith Caywood

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Tucson; 19 years in the industry





Where did you grow up, and what was it like there?

I was an Air force Brat, I moved around a lot. Enid, Oklahoma is where I graduated and did most of my education. Enid is a very unique small town. It was a wonderful place to grow up with core values of community, religion, and since of work ethic. Tucson is where I attended college and fell into the bartending field for the past 15 years. Here is where I learned my skill of craft, multi-tasking, and all around love for the bar.


Favorite childhood memory?

Going to the Fourth of July celebrations in Enid. The town would shut down (except for KFC) and host a celebration straight from a Norman Rockwell calendar. There would be blankets sprawled all across Meadowlake Park, families playing Frisbee, with a big symphony orchestra playing music throughout the evening. As the sun set, the band really fired up and so did the fireworks. It was grander than any show I have seen to date. The crowd fell silent in awe seeing the explosions overhead and reflecting off the lake. The only the that could match that celebration was Christmas time when the town gathered downtown to light up the streets.


Where do you work & what do you there?

I work for Club Congress in the historic Hotel Congress in downtown Tucson. It a multi-functional property that hosts award-winning dining, private events and weddings, is a  live music venue, and Tucson top-grossing and top-attended nightclub, and has been an operating hotel since 1919. Aside from our dining, lodging, and entertainment, we are known historically for the only place that John Dillinger was ever captured in his career as public enemy number one.


What is the most rewarding part of your career?

Being a part of everyone's fondest memories. Be it their first drink, most memorable cocktail, serving them through their college years, where they met or proposed to their loved one, I am blessed to be part of so many people's memories.

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What is your favorite bartending moment?

My co-workers and regulars have said I have served some famous people. I guess I've served Scarlett Johanssen, Johnny Knoxville, and even Bill Murray. I don't know about that. My favorite moment was one night a guy came back to the bar and accused me of having his credit card. I told him that I remembered returning his card in great detail because I noticed the American flag on his Discover card. He continued saying, "No, you must still have it. See, here's my wallet, my gun, my keys, my... " In one quick swoop I picked up his gun and asked, "What the hell?!" I told the gentleman that he need to leave as I cleared his .38 snuff nose into my hand. As I escorted him off the property, he continued to walk across the street, at which point I yelled," Hey buddy, take your gun. I'm not keeping this." He asked, "And the bullets?" I told him to piss off.


What do you do to relax outside of work?

Man, I wish I knew. I guess just lounging out with my dog and Netflix'ing is my real down time.


Tell us about your dream vacation.

Just did it. For the price I spend in two weeks on bar tabs I booked a trip to Playa Del Carmen. Six nights, airfare, food, and drinks were all included for less than $1400. I urge people just to take it easy and get away from their bar from time to time.


Favorite quote:

"He made his choice"


Advice you could offer to others:

Cut the crap. Nobody wants your nose pickers on their ice, or to hear about how it took you weeks to craft the perfect bitters, or to wait 12 minutes for a drink with a 15-step cocktail, or how after wearing your jeans for five days it creates a film that protects you from ever needing to wash them again! Cut this bullsh*t hipster attitude from your bar program and go back to being a bartender, a funstigator, a person who enhances the night for the crowd. It's not about you, it never was about you! Just make a well balanced cocktail with warm, fast friendly service and you might be memorable. Asking about their life helps, too!

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Who do you look up to and why?

Ross Simone, owner and visionary of Bitter and Twisted in Phoenix. He had a vision, a dream, such love and respect for our craft that he created one of the coolest damn bars in America without cutting any corners or half-assing any build-out. Above all that, he didn't get all supercilious with his fame. He's still one of the best down-to-earth gentleman that you might ever meet.


Tell us something unusual or unique about yourself that we might not know.

I created the Harry Potter Shot. I'm sorry, that was me. It haunts me to this day. That and Irish Trash Cans. If you Google them you will see how hokey they are, but hey! They are memorable.


What does the future hold for you?

Like most people, I'd like to have my own space. A memorable place that brings the core values of the bar and nightlife back to center stage. A bar without pre-Madonna's, a bar that brings the joy and excitement back to the scene. A place where you don't have to take everything so serious and have people raise their glasses, sing along with the entertainment, dance on the counter, flip whip cream across the room, and yes, a place where people come to congregate and celebrate life.

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What's your favorite part of

Having a forum for all of us to connect and share ideas.


What is your favorite joke?

What's a pirate's favorite letter? " Rrrrr, duh"

*Pirate's voice* "You'd think so, but it's the C!"


What is your favorite word?

"Pobrecito" is Spanish for "poor boy." It's used to be condescending.


What turns you on?

Eye contact


What other profession would you like to attempt?

Agent for Liquor License and Control in Arizona.


What other profession would you never try?

Uber driver


What personal attribute of yours do you most appreciate?

My core values: Service before self, Integrity, Excellence in all I do.


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If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

"That took longer than expected!"


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