The life of the party at Bud & Alley’s Rooftop Bar for nearly 20 years By Zandra Wolfgram
A sure elixir for the summertime blues just may require a visit to the “shot doctor,” says veteran Bud & Alley’s Waterfront Restaurant bartender Mo Moseley, “You tell me what it tastes like and I can make it.”
Still not sure what to order to chase your thirst? Let Moseley create a colorful cure. “When people can’t decide what they want I’ll just say, ‘Pick a color’ and make a shot or drink that hue,” he says.
You could say Moseley is the life of the party every night in Seaside. At 56 this dashing Bossier City, La., native with a ready smile has happily poured, shaken and stirred libations for 38 years. And nearly 20 of those years have been gladly spent tending bar on the Rooftop Deck of Bud & Alley’s, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.
Silvered haired Moseley is as charming and engaging as a bartender could be and clearly loves what he does for a living. “It’s like going to a party every night with different people,” he says with a grin. “You’re pretty popular, because you have the alcohol,” he quips — something he does often.
Over three decades, Bud & Alley’s has grown to be a popular place year round. Seats at the bar are largely filled by local homeowners in the fall, “snowbirds” in the winter and visiting guests in the spring and summer.
Still, for laid back Moseley it’s all the same. “I have a lot of customers who come back to see me year after year, so I feel like I serve locals every night — they are sometimes just not from here.”
One of Moseley’s secrets to success is being a mind reader for many of his thirsty patrons. “I like to have what they want to drink ready and before they order it,” he says. “My station has several tables, so I sell dinners, too. For my regulars I know what they want. It makes me feel good knowing I’ve given everyone I serve a good experience.”
Moseley started bussing tables at the age of 14 in a lakefront steak and seafood restaurant where his father tended bar in Shreveport, La. When his father moved to Montgomery a bartender was needed and he stepped in. He was 18. When waiters needed a break he would mind the bar and wait tables. Though he graduated college with a degree in construction engineering technology, he found a natural fit with the food and beverage industry. He would go on to manage several successful restaurants and even a few discos throughout the Southeast. An avid golfer and tennis player, Moseley grew up vacationing in South Walton with his family; when he got older he decidedly to relocate to the Gulf Coast and worked at several upscale eateries until landing his job at Bud & Alley’s where he felt his resume and talents were recognized.
He credits his long-term tenure to the welcoming culture created by owner Dave Rauschkolb and the nearly 200-member staff. “There’s really a large pool of talent from the front to the back of the house and throughout the management,” he says. “And it has a great ‘office’ view no doubt.”
After nearly 40 years, Moseley has seen more than a few beverage trends come and go, including the distinct preferences between ladies and gents. “Bourbon has made a comeback as of late for men. Old Fashions are strong with them right now,” he says. “Ladies, they seem to favor flavored martinis.”
Though “craft drinks” and “precision cocktails” are trending now, Moseley says Bud & Alley’s has been concocting them for years. We are committed to fresh ingredients in all we serve, so our mojitos have real fresh mint and several of our specialty drinks have seven or eight ingredients in them,” he says.
Especially in warmer weather he likes to “fuse” vodka with fresh produce such as pineapple or cucumber. “I just put it on the bar and sell it by word-of-mouth,” he says. “People love it.”
One of the most requested pours is the town’s signature cocktail — Seaside Punch. It blends vodka, apple schnapps, peach schnapps, raspberry liquor, pineapple juice and a splash of sour mix.
But surely the most popular drink at Bud & Alley’s is Moseley’s house made margarita. It is so often ordered, it has become affectionately known as the Mo-garita. What is the secret to this wildly popular concoction? “I wish I knew that, because if I could bottle it and sell it I’d be a millionaire!” Moseley exclaims throwing up his hands.
The Mo-garita paired with the “magical colors” of the setting sun over the Gulf have become a legendary beloved daily ritual known as the Sunset Celebration at Bud & Alley’s. As dusk approaches patrons, homeowners and staff all gather to watch the sun silently slip into the horizon, the big brass bell sounds to signal the end of another perfect day in Seaside. As is tradition, the person who guesses the exact time of the setting sun wins a complimentary cocktail. “Every night we have a winner,” Moseley assures.
This veteran barkeep is deft at making management one of the busiest bars on the Gulf Coast look seamless and easy. “It can certainly be a challenge, especially in the summer season, but when we make it happen and keep it all going and everyone is having a great time, it’s very rewarding.”
And the tips are not bad either, though Moseley is too much a gentleman to “go there” except to say, “It’s something I don’t worry about. If you work your tail off and do a good job that solves itself. But I am lucky enough to earn a tip of any sort, I do try to make sure I say ‘thank you,’ because I do appreciate it.”
As for telling your troubles to this bartender — though he surely would happily listen — that seems to take care of itself, too. “I think people come to Bud & Alley’s and forget about their troubles. It’s just so pretty,” Moseley says. “You are at the beach, you see the surf and the sunsets; just being outside and looking at the Gulf. Even an ugly day in Seaside is prettier than most anywhere else.”