By Amy McCarthy
By Scott Reitz
By Scott Reitz
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
By City of Ate
Will Morgan, Champps, Las Colinas: Morgan hates to see an empty glass. He has, according to patrons, eyes in the back of his head, which makes him some sort of a freak in our book, unless they meant that as a figure of speech. He's generally pouring a new drink just as you finish the old one.
Danny Versfelt, Al Biernat's: You have to appreciate a bartender who knows how to light a cigar properly, can speak intelligently about pipes and mixes strong cocktails--feeds (almost) all our vices, in other words.
Versfelt knows trendy mixed drinks, but specializes in the traditional cocktail and quality service. Despite the proliferation of HBO-inspired concoctions, bartenders say that change comes slowly to their world. "Drink preferences change a little and clientele some, that's about it," Caudle explains. "Everything that did exist always does, and the new things don't overwhelm you."
25 Highland Park Village
Dallas, TX 75205
Region: Park Cities
1930 Greenville Ave.
Dallas, TX 75206
Category: Bars and Clubs
Region: East Dallas & Lakewood
8201 Preston Road, #100
Dallas, TX 75225
Region: Park Cities
855 W. John Carpenter Freeway
Irving, TX 75039
Region: Irving & Las Colinas
4217 Oak Lawn Ave.
Dallas, TX 75219
Region: Uptown & Oak Lawn
Chris Michael, Bali Bar: It's difficult to describe Michael. He studies philosophy in his spare time, can spit out Bible verses and understands regional cuisine.
Dave Echols, The Men's Club: "The distractions are obvious," Echols says of his workplace, and the Burning Question crew spent quite a bit of time triple-checking the accuracy of his comment. He responds immediately when a customer even glances his direction.
Jessica Sheridan, Patrizio's: Sheridan glides behind the bar with elegance, although it might just seem that way by comparison (we could barely even stand on our visit). She doesn't call attention to herself, yet patrons gradually adjust their attention to her.
David Liberto, Beau Nash: Liberto engages every customer but never forces someone to wait for service. His attention to detail is astounding, once calling Brennan's in New Orleans for a recipe just to satisfy a customer's taste for a particular version of the gin fizz.
Tanner Scott, Christie's: Even on a busy night, Scott recognizes at least half of the bar's patrons. "If you care and make people want to come back and see you, you become good," he says.
So much for the top 15. We also discovered a few others well worth mentioning: Michelle Brillhart of Inwood Tavern makes a damn good Bloody Mary; David Pedack, now at Tom Tom Noodle Club, but soon to open Nikita; Gustavo Martinez of Anamia's in Coppell makes people forget they live in Coppell; the Green Room's Bruce Baumann, just because we think he's cool; and Tom Blackmer of The Loon.
Blackmer far outshines other bartenders at The Loon, at least from our experience. On one Saturday-afternoon visit (Blackmer was out that day), the Burning Question crew waited desperately for service. As the clock ticked and the ordeal dragged on, crew members began to drop; their pathetic gasping as clean red blood cells coursed through their veins unnerved us all, and their valor as they struggled to stay inebriated for just one more moment will be long remembered.
Six long minutes we waited for a drink.