Featured bartender: Charlie Chaparas from Camino
Charlie Chaparas left a 14-year career to work at Camino, 434 S. 2nd St., as a bartender and he couldn't be more satisfied with his decision. OnMilwaukee recently stopped in to talk to Chaparas about beer, Thailand and (dun dun dun!) the future.
OnMilwaukee: How long have you been working at Camino, and what were you doing before that?
Charlie Chaparas: I started working here in November. Prior to that I worked for Beer Capitol for 14 years. I quit in August with nothing planned and came here one day to have lunch with Casey (the owner). He asked me if I wanted to start bartending again. I said "sure," and the rest is history.
Where did you bartend in the past?
About 15 years ago I worked at Kelly's Bleachers and O'Brien's.
What do you like about bartending?
I like the interactions with people – it's fun. I couldn't work just anywhere. We have great food, great drinks and a great environment. This is a place I can back and support.
What are your favorite drinks to make and, when you're not working, consume?
After so many years working for Beer Capitol, I'm more of a beer guy. I like to drink Miller High Life mostly, but I like craft beers here and there. I've learned a lot about making cocktails since I started here, and now I like to make and drink all different drinks – Old Fashioneds, you name it.
Did you grow up in Milwaukee?
Yep, South Side, 44th and Oklahoma. Graduated from Pius.
What neighborhood do you live in now?
I live on the Northwest Side.
That's an interesting tattoo on your arm. What does it mean?
I was in Thailand a couple of months ago and got it from a Buddhist monk. It's a Thai protection tattoo.
What brought you to Thailand?
I had a good friend living there and I went to visit. It was great – saw the ruins, old temples, palaces. Thailand has beautiful beaches, but I'm not really a beach guy.
Thailand was the first stamp in my passport. Someday I want to go to Greece and Prague, which is my heritage.
Any major life goals or taking it one day at a time?
I'm here bartending right now and I love it. I could see myself opening a place in a couple of years. I'm not not looking at anything, but could see it happening someday.
You're relatively new to the Walker's Point scene. What do you think?
Yeah, I was always working or going out on the West Side. Walker's Point is cool. Bartenders from all over the city come here to visit other bartenders. There's a great community here.
What do you like to do when you're not working?
Everything. I love going out. I'm also a creature of habit and find myself here even when I'm not working because ... I like it here.
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