Behind the Bar: Phill Blair The Whig

Proudly proclaimed “North America’s Greatest Dive Bar” The Whig has been a staple in Columbia since 2005. We went Behind the Bar with the man, the myth, the legend Phill Blair to learn more about this “subterranean respite.”

Where are you from originally?

I’m a lifelong West Columbia resident, with a very brief stint as a dirt road toddler out in Sandy Run, SC. 


How long have you been bar tending and how long at (insert bar here)?

About 16 years working in a bar, nearing 14 years behind the bar at The Whig.


What’s the craziest story a patron has ever told you?

Too many to count, several not suitable to print. A lot of older cats in their upper 60’s and 70’s have recounted what our place was like in 70’s and early 80’s, very interesting yet inappropriate memories for sure. 


What’s the strangest drink request you’ve ever gotten?

Anything name after a celebrity, or specific to a region that we happen to not be in is always good for an eye roll. If a request is strange but easily doable why not oblige, but will I light things on fire for a whim, absolutely not. 


What’s your favorite drink on the menu?

I’m very much a fan of what we do well and what I enjoy anywhere I go, a pint served quickly, professionally, courteously, amazing how many places can’t nail that recipe. 


What’s your favorite drink to make?

One of the few things I do enjoy making is a classic margarita or some riff on that, recently made a batch of beet/ginger margaritas that really turned out, also one of the few cocktails I’ll order out.


Any other interesting tidbits you would like to include?

16+ years in bar service, 22 years in service industry, one golden rule that has never been disproven DON’T TALK TO STRANGERS…it never turns out. 

So if you’re in the mood for a perfectly poured pint and some great food in the nation’s greatest dive bar, head downstairs!

(Photos courtesy of @thewhig on Instagram and Rachel Allen)