We all have our favorite bartenders. Maybe you know one who is quick, or another who has a heavy hand, or one who is just a total whackjob who makes you laugh. I generally favor bartenders who command respect and are just really fucking nice. I really like nice people, so nice people pouring booze is simply the ultimate.
It goes without saying, the guys on this list are attentive, reliable, and cool in their own right. They treat me like royalty even though I am but a mere peasant of the DFW nightlife.
Antonio at Chow in Plano
3309 Dallas Pkwy
Plano, TX 75093
Antonio declined to have his portrait taken for this post, citing embarrassment. But that’s a lie – he’s a bartender. Everyone knows bartenders don’t get embarrassed.
Instead, I took a photo of a martini he invented called “The Mexican” – Ketel One, Malibu, Orange Curacao, and sweet and sour. It looks nothing like him, but it’s a damn good martini. That’s how I remember Antonio: damn good martinis.
We’re both from Mexico, so we converse in our native tongue quite often. And by converse I really mean Antonio speaks Spanish and I reply with a hybrid dialect (I’m rusty) that would surely piss off my grandmother.
If Chow’s humongous menu has you stupefied, just ask Antonio. He makes killer recommendations.
He usually works evenings.
Howard at Lee Harvey’s in Dallas
1807 Gould St
Dallas, TX 75215
I met Howard at Lee Harvey’s a few years ago, but that’s not important. What’s important is that he makes a fine Bloody Mary – the best this side of the Mississippi, actually. I refuse to order a Bloody Mary anywhere else since that would just lead to disappointment, and I don’t handle disappointment very well.
Howard is also the only bartender on this list whose nipples I’ve seen on Facebook. After all, he’s a musician and that’s what musicians do on Facebook, I think.
Nipples aside, he actually prefers drawing over drinking, and just last year, contributed artwork to a published children’s book.
Howard usually works evenings while wearing a shirt.
Rob at Kenny’s Burger Joint in Frisco
Kenny’s Burger Joint
1377 Legacy Dr
Frisco, TX 75034
Rob happens to work at one of my favorite restaurants, Kenny’s Burger Joint, home of my favorite gourmet burger. Their burgers are so good I once put off sexual intercourse just to go get one. But enough about that.
He used to be a car salesman, but he quit that job since selling cars is, well, a really shitty job. What I like about Rob is his seemingly minor yet life-changing recommendations, like spicing up my gin with jalapeno and cucumber slices or telling me that I can order a single pickle at Kenny’s instead of a whole order. That’s where it counts: pickles. That’s what matters.
He works lunches at the Burger Joint, and in the evenings you can catch him at Kenny’s Wood Fired Grill in Addison.
Dan at the Pavilion (formerly Barbara’s Pavillion) in Dallas
325 Centre St
Dallas, TX 75208
Dan has been at the Pavilion since I was first introduced to the place. He’s the owner of the bar and I credit him with keeping the spirit of the bar we simply call “Barb’s” alive.
And he’s been bartending for 35 years. So that’s 32 years longer than the longest job I’ve ever held. Fuck.
But he did say, “That doesn’t mean I know what I’m doing.” Whatever, Dan. He’s so silly.
He recently upped his cool by allowing a piano into the place, which was donated by a customer. Being a piano student, that just got my fingers all tingly and excited (I’m actually not trying to be dirty here). The piano, of course, is out of tune and sounds like a rabid hyena, but nonetheless, it’s a piano and it’s open to the public.
Dan works evenings because that’s when the Pavilion is open.
Sam at Hattie’s in Dallas
418 N Bishop Ave
Dallas, TX 75208
Correct me if I’m wrong, but of the bartenders on this list, Sam has the distinction of being the nicest. He’s like, nice on an illegal level.
He mans the little bar at the upscale Hattie’s. His presence at dinner means I’m about to have a potent cocktail followed by some tomato bisque. And then another potent cocktail.
He seems a little shy but my guess is he’s totally fucking nuts yet hides it well. That is probably why I like him. If it were acceptable for children to have bartenders as role models, I think Sam would be the guy.
Sam usually works evenings. He’s a staple of the Bishop Arts District.