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Get to know a Bartender: Brogan McNab, The Brunny

Posted by Guest Contributor / January 8, 2013

Brogan McNabWhen I first meet Brogan McNab, it's easy to see why she is one of The Brunswick House's most popular bartenders. When she's not pouring pitchers of Killer Kool Aid for students, Brogan is at Easy & The Fifth, Cabin Five or snapping pictures of beautiful people in her gig as a freelance photographer. Brogan sat down with me for a chat about Guinness, getting Brunny drunk and the power of a stripper pole.

Where and when can people find you behind the bar?

Mostly I work at The Brunswick House on Thursday nights, and on weekends, Easy & The Fifth. I'm also at the Fifth Social Club and sometimes Cabin Five. I sometimes guest bartend private parties.

Which is your favourite?

Well I just started working at Easy & The Fifth and I absolutely love it. But the Brunny - it has a special place in my heart. Everyone loves to hate the Brunny. When they hear I work there they say, "Awe man - The Brunny- yuck,'" and then a few weeks later they are in the bar ordering drinks from me. Ha. It's a guilty pleasure. I can't leave it. No way.

You did leave before though...

Well I worked at Tequila Jacks for bit: same owners so same great family. I also spent sometime at home (Cambridge) over the summer.

Brogan McNabBut you couldn't stay away from The Brunny?

No. The Brunny was the first place I applied to when I first came to Toronto (three years ago). It's the people, the atmosphere - it's the perfect fusion of a pub and a club. People harp on it all the time but it's over 100 years old! It's got so much character and history. Everyone has a Brunny story: Your parents, your think Toronto, you think bars, and you think The Brunny. I love it for that.

Describe your typical Brunny client?

It's totally a student bar. It caters to U of T students. It's a place to go relieve some student stress. You go there to have fun and be wild...and not remember. You know you went there and you know you had THE best night of your life but you don't remember much of it. You don't go there and get drunk- you get 'Brunk.' That's Brunny drunk.

Who's rowdier? Staff or Students?

I would have to say the staff cause we're sober and partying just as hard as they are. We dance non-stop. We definitely have more fun.

Brogan McNabWorst drunk moment you've seen at The Brunny?

I'm not going to lie, there are a lot. But the one I love telling people about? I cut this girl off but as I was pouring her friend a drink, the drunk girl runs over, grabs the drink, chugs it, spills it all over herself, realizes she has booze on her chest, pulls her boobs out at the bar and starts cleaning herself- right there. They came right out. In the middle of the bar. She didn't even realize. She was just doing her thing. It was awful. When she came back three weeks later, we reminded her of the incident and she left. I haven't seen her since.

Ha! Any other good stories that need highlighting?

Well we have a stripper pole so that is a million stories in itself. When there is a stripper pole around, people turn into someone entirely different. Girls AND guys.

Do people get rowdy drunk?

Yes, but nothing we can't handle. There are almost always girls dancing on the bars and people throwing back J├Ąger bombs. People yell and scream at you for drinks. It's their world and you're just living in it.

What do you do when you're not bartending?

I go to OCAD for photography but I am also a working photographer. I spend a lot of time shooting people....with a camera that is.

Brogan McNabOf course. What's your favorite bar....that you don't work in?

Ha...Crocodile Rock. My friends and I, all in the industry, go every Wednesday night. Never had a bad time there. I also love Tattoo Rock Parlour...they have an industry night on Sundays.

And your favourite adult beverage?

I'm a Guinness drinker. My family is Irish so it's always around. A lot of people don't like it but you have to sit down and commit to drinking a whole pint. At the end of that pint, you are allowed to make a decision: love it or hate it. I fell in love with it.

You will even drink Guinness on a club night out?

If they serve it, I will drink it all night.

Do you think you'll bartend forever?

I want to do this, well, not for as long as I can...but ...well it's such a fun job. I meet so many amazing people and get to party - I love bartending! So I guess I want to do this until I don't need to anymore- when my photography career really takes off.


Backstreet Boys or NSync? Backstreet Boys
Pepsi or Coke? Coke
Leather or Lace? Leather
Stiletto or wedge? Wedge
Dylan McDermott or Dermot Mulroney? I don't know either of those people
On the rocks or straight up? Straight up
Coyote Ugly or Cocktail? Coyote Ugly. For sure. That IS the Brunny in itself.

For more bartender profiles, visit our Toronto Bartenders Pinterest page.

Writing by Natalie Preddie. Photos by Jesse Milns



NOM / January 8, 2013 at 10:49 am
Brogan? Seriously?
mezimeen / January 8, 2013 at 11:17 am
Haaawwwt bad she's at the Brunny. Since I graduated I can't stand the place.
NON / January 8, 2013 at 11:18 am
The Brunswick? Seriously?

Next you'll be interviewing bartenders at the Oomsk Oomsk Koolkid Soundbar Emporium.
Rick replying to a comment from NON / January 8, 2013 at 12:03 pm
Next thing you'll know they'll be interviewing the bartenders from Boston Pizza or red lobster.
Alex replying to a comment from NOM / January 8, 2013 at 12:50 pm
All you naysayers: It's a cute feature that helps shed some light on the people that serve drinks. She's cute, she's fun and she's enjoying her life. Isn't that all that matters?

Nom: Her name is Gaelic. Get out more.
RickBobby / January 8, 2013 at 12:59 pm
Marry me
SW / January 8, 2013 at 12:59 pm
A bartender is a bartender, no matter where they work.
Simon replying to a comment from NON / January 8, 2013 at 01:17 pm
I can definitely see where a reaction like that comes from but, at the same time, Brogan does a great job at articulating why the Brunny exists. As a former employee of The Brunny I can say that it's always packed with a ton of kids having a great time. It isn't posh like the entertainment district clubs and it isn't supposed to be. It's a fun place for students to go for a club experience without the huge prices that go with it. It may not be the most refined place but neither are the clientele. While I'd never go there for a drink, I understand why people go there and that's fine. If you don't like the place it's probably not meant to be the type of place you'd like anyways so relax and be very happy that the kids are being herded into the Brunny and not your favorite bar.
n / January 8, 2013 at 01:18 pm
Too bad the Brunswick House is pretty much the worst place on earth.
Brogans #1 Fan / January 8, 2013 at 02:00 pm
Ok, so there are some people who are too proud to say they did or would have a great time at the Brunny... It's all about the people you go with that makes your night!! And I could go by myself to any bar if Brogan is working it!!! I'd rather go there then an uptight stuffy club where the bartender is as dumb as a rock and takes a half hour to clear her bar, only to charge you 15$ for a single drink!!! Love you Brogan!! Coming to visit ya soon!!
totes / January 8, 2013 at 03:11 pm
she undoubtedly has an enviable work ethic- the volume and caliber of the clientele would demand as such.

but it doesn't change the fact her name has given me a new nickname for joe rogan and his fans.

also- the brunny is god-awful, no matter how you spin it. it's a sanctuary for people who can't handle their shit, and want to vomit in public.
NoName / January 8, 2013 at 03:45 pm
Does anyone have a record on how many times the Brunny has been shutdown?
10? 12?
Underage drinking/serving minors, permitting minors to enter, recycling alcohol, serving after hours, over capacity...any others?
Derek / January 8, 2013 at 03:48 pm
She must be a good bartender to deal with the shitheads at the Brunny.
Rob / January 8, 2013 at 04:05 pm
A job is a job and I'm sure she makes a ton in tips. Good for her.
Chris! / January 8, 2013 at 04:05 pm
That shot she is pouring in the main pic is all you need to know about why the Brunny is horrible.
Craig / January 8, 2013 at 05:10 pm
A Guinness drinker...props to her for that and for dealing with U of T wastrel idiots
Rmund / January 8, 2013 at 05:44 pm
One of my proudest moments was getting tossed out of the Brunny-zwick House - and not even being drunk at the time.
stopitman replying to a comment from Chris! / January 8, 2013 at 06:31 pm
Heaven forbid people don't want to drink Manhattans every Friday when they go out to get hammered. University students just want to get dickered and could really care less if hipsters drink it (unless they're hipsters) or that their grandpa drank it in 1940s when he was a badass.
Chris! replying to a comment from stopitman / January 8, 2013 at 06:53 pm
Yes, CLEARLY only a Manhattan-sipping hipster would think Blue Curaçao and/or Sourpuss are gross and for morons. Great point, man!
the lemur replying to a comment from Chris! / January 8, 2013 at 09:44 pm
Blue curaçao and Sour Puss (if that's what that is) are okay drinks in themselves, but they don't go together. Brogan and McNab are fine names on their own, but not a good combo.

People may not be on their best behaviour at the Brunny, but reminding them of their drunken antics when they come in again is poor form (unless they did something reprehensible/criminal).
get my drink and shut up replying to a comment from lost hope in humanity / January 8, 2013 at 10:04 pm
Dude, it's bartending.

You're slightly above bus driver on the socioeconomic ladder. GET OVER YOURSELF.
Bartender replying to a comment from the lemur / January 8, 2013 at 11:26 pm
Blue Curacao and raspberry Sour Puss do go together. It's a Pornstar. Fine by themselves? Idiot.
buddy / January 8, 2013 at 11:27 pm
Loves me some craft beer, definitely going.
Barkeeper replying to a comment from Bartender / January 9, 2013 at 12:04 am
Not in a shot glass they don't, and you need more than just those two ingredients.
LOL / January 9, 2013 at 08:04 am
Is this crap for real?
RCGUY / January 10, 2013 at 12:44 pm
I saw her pic and thought she was cute. Then I read her answers. I've been to the Brunny, had loads of fun in my day. But it is what it is, no matter how many layers of rose coloured glasses you put on - a university bar, filled with drunk, immature, loud, obnoxious kids (note - they are kids, as most are first years, right out of highschool). So, if you are out of university, you have to ask youself why you still go there, unless of course, the answer is you never progressed past that first year mentality.
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