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Shab Row Bistro Mixologist Alex Strange Shares His Ink and His Broadway Past

Welcome back to Ink Spotted, a feature in which Eater talks to DC's tattooed chefs and gets the stories behind their most intriguing ink.

[Photos: Nevin Martell/Eater.com]

Before Shab Row Bistro and Wine Bar’s mixologist Alex Strange ever crafted a single cocktail — or drank one for that matter — he spent a childhood working as an actor. He was only nine when he made his Broadway debut as Gavroche (“the kid who gets shot in the head at the end”) in Les Miserables. A couple years later, he scored the part of the little boy Edgar in Ragtime, which earned him and the rest of the cast a Tony nomination.

His life in a showbiz family actually inspired to get his first tattoo. His mother did costuming, so when Strange was 12, he found himself kicking around on the Mississippi set of the indie flick The Rising Place while she worked. It turned out to be a transformative trip. "There was this grip named Bud," says Strange. "He was a huge guy from Louisiana with slicked back rockabilly hair and two huge Japanese sleeves. From that moment on, I wanted tattoos, but my mom asked me to wait until I was 21. I’m glad I did, because you go through every stupid idea for a tattoo as a teenager." When he hit the legal drinking age, he got a Japanese sleeve as an homage to the ink that kicked off his fascination with the art form.

Though Strange’s Broadway career is long behind him, he doesn’t think his new career is that different. "I traded one stage for another," he says. "It’s still almost played the exact same way. The only difference is that if you’re having an off day, the audience has a front row seat."
—Nevin Martell

· Previous Editions of Ink Spotted [-EDC-]
· Alex Strange in Ragtime [YouTube]

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