Behind the Bar

A look at the mothers, writers and musicians who pour Tucson's tastiest drinks

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The Plush-Catchers

It's Sunday, lunch time and hotter than two rats making love in a wool sock. I take my scooter down to the corner of Sixth Street and Fourth Avenue to visit the one story burgundy building with the giant windows on the corner. There's a banner of red and black birds sipping out of a martini glass crudely draped over the four circles that used to read PLUSH.

I walk in and no one is in the bar except for Shannon Hebert, who asks, "What are you having, bub?" She runs back and forth through the bar, and we talk about her wedding that took place in May, and how her son Dylan is doing. She misses him dearly and plans traveling to Portland to see him sooner or later.

Hebert places a Bloody Mary—topped off with a slice of bacon and a pickle slice peeking out of the top—in front of me, and I never wanted a drink so bad.

In a previous life, Hebert was an administrative assistant at the UA. "I have more credits than I'd need for a Master's degree, but I couldn't figure out what I wanted to do," she said.

Asked why she would leave a seemingly stable and safe career, she answered "That's exactly why I quit. I started working at Safehouse after leaving the university. I got these birds tattooed on my hand very specifically because I didn't want to take jobs —what I considered for me—based on fear," she said. "I always wanted to make myself available to make art."

"It would have been hard to get a day job with these tattoos on my hands. The birds are born, they hang out in the nest by the ocean with their mom. Without a whole lot of warning, their mom would push them out of the nest, so they would have to fly or crash in the ocean," she said. "I know it sounds like a whole lot of BS, but that's what I was thinking when I got (the tattoos)."

Hebert worked for Safehouse for 10 years before she started at (Flycatcher predecessor) Plush. "It was a real easy jump from barista to the bartender," Hebert said. Generally, there's more money serving liquor than coffee. I started working at Café Passe, and I was serving coffee and beer there. I can't seem to shake that part of my trip," she said.

Hebert plans on fleeing the country, running away to be free. She won't even tell me where she's thinking of going. "I want to have a whole slew of different, new experiences that have nothing to do with the ones I have already had," she said.

Sara Louise Mohr, 40, is the middle child of three girls. Mohr was born in Jamestown, North Dakota, grew up in Colorado Springs, but calls herself a Tucson native. "I'm a desert rat," she confesses, graduating first from Sabino High School, then the UA.

"Music is very important to me," Mohr said. For the last 10 years, she has been teaching private music lessons. "When I was eight, I really liked ragtime—honky tonk saloon music—I was teaching myself Scott Joplin," she said. "My absolute favorite composer is Rachmaninoff."

"By the time I got to my high school, they cut all the music programs. So, I was pretty much on my own," Mohr said.

Mohr performs with the UA Community Chorus, but also embraces a more rock-oriented side of her personality as the lead singer/keyboardist for the band, Sorry About The Garden. The other band members include Ian Williams on bass, and her boyfriend, Kevin William Lee, on drums. "We enjoy playing and writing music together. I know we all look forward to the practices," she said.

Mohr started her bartending career 20 years ago at East Speedway's The Cage, currently known as Club XS. "I was in school and I needed some money, she said. "I started out as a bar-back, and they noticed I had a strong work ethic. I have to thank my mother and father for that. I watched them work really hard growing up. You get what you work for."

Mohr was hired immediately prior to Plush's opening 13 years ago. "I applied for a job after Café Sweetwater closed. I finally got a call, was hired on the spot. I helped paint the walls, build the furniture and opened three days later," Mohr said.

Certainly, Mohr will serve you the beer of your choice, but you'd be remiss to not order her Tucson Weekly Best of Tucson® winning cocktail, the Sexy Blue Jesus, flavored with coconut rum and tinted by Blue Curaçao. "There was a collection of coffee mugs the staff used to use. There was a white mug, and it looked like someone had been drawing on it. The image was a reclining blue, nude woman. But it looked like Jesus. Someone wrote on the mug Sexy Jesus. A friend asked me to make him a tropical cocktail. He asked me what it was called so I named it the Sexy Blue Jesus."

"I never planned on it being in it for this long in the beginning, but because it's so much fun," Mohr said. "Bartending gets in your blood, and that's why no one ever quits."

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