Barely a week after he turned 29, and the day after he donned a bow tie and suspenders to celebrate the small wedding of two close friends, Louis Salgar — bartender, punk musician, Miami native — was shot dead in his home.
Salgar was discovered Monday afternoon on the floor of the home, 8551 NE Eighth Ct., by a roommate. Miami police say that Salgar’s death is under investigation.
Miami Herald partner CBS4 Miami reported that Salgar may have interrupted a robbery in progress. Manuel Salgar, his father, told CBS4 that he thinks his son was shot when he used martial arts to fight back.
An abandoned car found in the town of Palm Beach, and then a manhunt, didn’t lead to any suspects.
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Friends remembered Salgar as an honest, funny “gentleman” with a big heart and a passion for bartending and music.
Adam Gersten, the owner of Gramps, a bar in Wynwood where Salgar launched his bartending career, described Salgar as a Renaissance man — a musician, photographer and mixologist with a knack for recognizing obscure movie references — with punk rock values.
“He was very passionate, very funny, very irreverent. He had a distrust slash mistrust of authority,” Gersten said. “I’d say he was a real artist. He was very, very passionate but it wasn’t just blind passion. He had that great combination of a good work ethic and creativity.”
Gersten said Salgar — who worked at Gramps for a little more than a year, where he was a “fearless mad-scientist head bartender” — had the kind of personality that drew people into the bar. Salgar, an up-and-coming bartender who competed in the Bacardí Legacy Global Cocktail Competition earlier this year, later went on to tend bar at The Social Club at Surfcomber and the Broken Shaker at the Freehand Miami, where he still worked at the time of his death
“People came just for him — to be around him, to have him experiment his latest concoctions on them,” Gersten said.
Salgar believed in doing things his way on his own terms, which manifested itself through his cocktails — like his popular Nazca Lines cocktail, a pisco take on a Pimms Cup, or the Rosemary’s baby cocktail with burnt rosemary, gin, lemon and Earl Grey tea — as well as his approach to life, Gersten said.
“He was all about making things himself, doing things himself, building things himself; taking it on himself to empower himself and not rely on other people,” he said. “It’s an admirable and important attribute. That was his way.”
Sarah Galvan, whose wedding Salgar attended his last night alive, first got to know the bartender when she and her now-husband were Sunday night regulars at Gramps. Galvan and her then-fiancée would go every week just for Louis, whom she described as “one in a million.”
“After a hard day at work, we’d go bike ride over there and just hang out with him,” she said. Salgar was always up to something new and experimental, like boiling up milk for a cereal-flavored drink, Galvan said through tears.
Salgar was a well-known personality on the bar circuit — friends and customers took to social media in spades to mourn his death — as well as a musician. Along with two friends, Tyler Bronis and Mike Rodriguez, he was part of a self-described punk, post-hardcore screamo band called Secret Arms. Secret Arms posted on Facebook Tuesday that Salgar’s death would mean the end of the band.
“It is with a heavy heart that we inform you that our brother Louis Salgar has passed away,” the post stated. “We cannot and will not continue on without him. He was an integral part of this band and our lives.”
Gersten said that he and Salgar’s other friends don’t know much about what happened, and aren’t too concerned with the particulars.
“When you lose a friend, and you know that he’s not coming back and that someone was likely intruding on his home for nefarious, criminal purposes, the details aren’t really that significant,” Gersten said.
Salgar may have been a punk musician but he was a gentleman up until the end, Galvan said. After the wedding, she and her husband hung out with Salgar at Gramps – just like old times.
“He helped us clean up after,” she said.