If you've been in Richmond long enough, you've probably heard it called "the biggest small town you’ll ever see.” With an abundance of opportunities that exist in this vibrant community, folks have the opportunity to try new things or to become a master at their skill set. Enter Pete Konrad, the Bar Manager at Southbound, who knows a bit about just how close-knit this "big small town" seems to be and what it is like to grow alongside your community.
Pete invited us Behind the Bar for an afternoon to teach us more about his eclectic background that led him to where he is and how he is bringing his craft with cocktails to yet another beloved Richmond neighborhood.
Tell us about yourself...
I've been bartending a little over 10 years now. I started really bartending when I took a job as a bartender at Gallery 5. After about a year, Nick Crider and I built a bigger bar at the Gallery and I began taking over the duties as bar manager there.
After several years of doing that, I passed the torch on and picked up a bartending gig at Portrait House. Those couple years at Portrait House were probably some of the best times in my life and made lifelong friends while working there. From there I moved to Metzger Bar and Butchery, where my drink game went from shooters to craft cocktails. Big shout out to Kjell Anderson for teaching me the ways. Now I’m the Bar Manager of Southbound.
What do you do when you’re not bartending? Any hobbies/side jobs/secret identities?
I enjoy home brewing, which set into motion the interest to earn my degree in Chemistry at VCU. I recently graduated this past Spring. Starting this Fall semester, I will be a teaching assistant for one of VCU’s newest courses on brewing, yeast, and fermentation. The science behind the drinks we serve is very intriguing to me.
What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?
I served 6 years in the Coast Guard. I also was a tower crane installer/tester for a few years. There are several other jobs I have done, but way too much to list them all. Through most of them though, I’ve always been a bartender at night.
What’s your favorite thing to drink? Favorite classic cocktail? Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?
My favorite thing to drink is probably a Rittenhouse rye with one big cube or an All Day IPA. As far as classics go, I would say a Boulevardier is my favorite. Something I drink when no one's looking would be a nice Beaujolais.
Tell us about your bar…
I would describe the atmosphere at Southbound as casual fine dining. I want people to be able to sit at the bar have a fantastic meal and try some new drinks. As a bartender, I want to know my neighborhood and I feel that this is very much the neighborhood bar of Bon Air. Our neighborhood is a pretty neat part of town. I’ve had a lot of friends move out here in recent years. I like the rural suburbia feel of it.
What makes your bar unique?
I think we have the perfect amount of variety of selections of different beverages without that feeling of being overwhelmed by choices. It's nice have a large inventory of different spirits not only for guests, but for me as a bar manager. It allows me to be creative and come up with new things all the time. I was lucky when I picked up this position to have such a wonderful staff as well.
What’s a good night look like for you? What are people ordering?
A great night for me is a full bar, but not super fast-paced. I like to be able to have a conversation with someone who sits down at the bar. I also love to be able to introduce people to new things, so that takes time getting to know them and their interests.
What’s your favorite menu item / cocktail pairing?
I personally think we have some of the best wings in town. If I were to pair it with one of my cocktails, I would pair it with the “Long Drag”.
Can you share a Belle Isle creation with us?
Sure thing. I've actually got two that we're serving up at Southbound.
- 1 1/2 oz. Belle isle 100 Proof
- 1/2 oz. Champion Megalodon vinegar
- 1 oz. Coconut milk
- 1/4 oz. Demerara syrup
Shake and strain into a rocks glass with a big cube, garnish with shaved bitter chocolate bar.
Recipe by Pete Konrad
- 2 oz. Belle Isle Premium Moonshine
- 3/4 oz. Cocchi Americano
- 1/2 oz. Dolin Blanc
- Laphroaig 10 yr. rinse
Rinse chilled coupe with Laphroaig 10yr. Stir and strain into rinsed coupe garnish with lemon peel.
Recipe by Pete Konrad
Photos by Joey Wharton