Food & Drink, People

Behind the Bar: Bobby Callan of Hanrahan’s Irish Pub

Hanrahan’s bartender Bobby Callan has lived in the Drexel Hill area all of his 30 years. He has a house in Clifton Heights now, but he grew up three blocks from this bustling Irish bar on Burmont Road, catty-corner from the Aronimink Avenue SEPTA station.

Callan got into the bar business a few years ago when one of his best friends suggested that he join him in working at a dive bar. “He said to me, ‘This is easy. It’s great. You get to meet new people.” He took to bartending, but after a while he tired of the dive bar scene. Fortuitously, he played on a local softball team, and a Hanrahan’s employee who was on the team recruited him.

Since then, Callan has become a fixture—a combination bartender and something akin to a cruise director. As good as he is at pulling pints, he’s equally good at bringing people together. It agitates him a bit when people come in, pull up a stool, sit down and immediately yank out their cell phones, ignoring the people propped up at the bar next to them. He has a ready supply of board games, which he likes to offer customers in hopes it will melt the ice and get them talking to each other. It usually works.

We sat down with Callan recently and asked him about life behind the bar at Hanrahan’s. Here’s what he had to say.

What do you serve most often?

During St. Paddy’s Day or nights when (the band) Round Tower is here, it’s nothing but Guinness, mostly Guinness, or Black and Tans. During regular nights, it’s more like our domestics, whatever specials we have going on that night.

What do you serve least often?

Martinis. We don’t sell many of them here. Or Manhattans. I like this area because it’s more of a shot and a beer place.

What do you most like serving?

I like inventing things. It’s kind of fun. I was never into chemistry in school … until I started bartending here. Now I kinda wish I was more into chemistry. I just try different methods, and if it turns out good, I keep serving them.

What do you least like serving?

Martinis. I know how to make them, but if someone doesn’t like it, they’re too strong, or whatever, I offer to make it in front of them so they can tell me how much stuff they like to put in.

What do you most like about being a bartender?

Meeting new people—every time. I actually had a person come back in because he loved my service. He’s from Maine, too, and he’s a New England Patriots fan. I saw him a year ago, and he came back, and I remembered him because of his New England hat and how he was talking to me about the Philadelphia Eagles.

I like helping people. I’m a customer service guy. I’m very open to people. I’m very talkative. If someone asks a question, I don’t ignore them. It’s nice meeting new people. I’ve gained a lot of new friends from this bar.

Hanrahan’s Irish Pub, 690 Burmont Road, Drexel Hill, PA 484-462-3533

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