Bartender Chat: Amy Singletary of J. Black's Feel Good Lounge on Hockey Fights and Orgies
At J. Black's Feel Good Lounge, bartender Amy Singletary -- whose last name is spelled just like that of Minnesota Vikings linebacker coach Mike Singletary -- says she gets asked all the time if she's related to the famous football player. (Amy is white; Mike is black.) "I'm like, what does it look like?" she laughs, before adding in a perfunctory "Go Bears!"
Photos by Katharine Shilcutt Amy Singletary at J. Black's is a fast-moving, fast-talking bartender with a friendly smile and plenty of stories.
Are you from Houston originally?
Yes. Born here, raised in Georgia. I've been back since my junior year of high school, which was two years ago. [Singletary laughs, as she's already admitted to being 30 years old.] I ended up back in Clear Lake.
So how long have you been bartending?
Around ten years. I cocktailed when I was 18 and then started bartending.
Where were you before you were here at J. Black's?
You've got to have the best stories.
Singletary makes a great Hemingway daiquiri.
[Nods.] Hockey people are crazy. Yeah. One day I just filled in for the girl whose husband owns the Maple Leaf, and I thought, "Okay, I'm gonna come in here and have fun..." and people were throwing things at each other [during the game]. One guy was like, "Oh, you don't like hockey? Well, you've gotta root for a team anyway." So he gives me his jersey and I put it on. Then of course a bunch of the other guys start getting really pissed off. My boss comes up to me and is like, "Could you take that off? People are getting really pissed off." And I was like, "Hell, no! Now it's just on principle! Now I'm gonna root for this team! It was the Blackhawks. And now I love "Chelsea Dagger" [the team anthem for the Chicago Blackhawks]."
Did you have a favorite bar you worked at?
I've worked at every kind of bar. But I did have a favorite: R&R and Pangea on Main Street [which is now closed]. It was my first high-volume bartending job and we were allowed to have a lot of fun behind the bar.
You're fast as hell behind the bar. Have you ever considered competing in Speedrack or any of those timed bartending competitions?
J. Black's vibe is that of an updated mid-century modern lounge (although the fireplace won't come in handy until winter).
I try to be speedy! But no, I haven't done any of those competitions; they intimidate me. I've been to the ones where they emphasize different spirits, but not the timed competitions. That would be fun, though.
So what do you drink when you go out?
Jameson. I love anything Irish. Like that guy over there. If you're Irish and an asshole...I love you. I love Kenneally's. The thin-crust pizza at Kenneally's is great.
Hockey fights aside, what's your best bar story?
J. Black's great pizzas are half-off on Tuesday nights, while starters are half-price every day from 4 to 7 p.m. Other happy hour deals include $1 off drinks and 25 percent off bottles of wine from 4 to 7 p.m.
[Giggling.] I was dating this guy who worked at Escobar and I went there after I got off work at Pub Fiction one night, and they were having this swinger/orgy private party thing going on. So all these half-naked girls are sitting around and I was looking at my boyfriend like, "What the hell is going on?" He says, "Oh, It's cool -- these are all their husbands." I thought okay -- I'll sit here and have a few drinks...when one of the guys goes up to my boyfriend and says, "She can join in if she wants." My boyfriend was like, "Nah, dude; we're cool." So later, another guy comes up right behind me and puts his hand directly up my dress! I just turned around and punched him right in the face. My boyfriend runs across the bar, yelling, "What's going on?!" The guy goes, "I thought she was one of the swingers!"
Finally, a tamer question: Where do you like to go eat lunch?
Paulie's. Everything I've tried there is delicious.
Happy Hour is our favorite time to swing in to J. Black's as it's nice and quiet in the back bar and lounge area. Go visit Amy at J. Black's on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings before she moves to New York City in the spring.
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