This week Eater celebrates not only cocktails but those who make them possible, the bartenders. It is the fourth year of spotlighting the talent that makes our bar culture rock. Yesterday, we revealed the 12 talented bar men and women featured this year. Today, we present you four of them in more detail — from first jobs to mottos and go-to spirits, and best meals ever.
Name: Rob Corbari
Where from: Boise, Idaho and Oregon
Behind the bar at: The Populist and Bar Fausto
First job ever: I installed irrigation sprinklers and landscaped lawns for my high
school football coach in the summers. I loved every second it.
Last cocktail before you die: Green Chartreuse, squeeze of fresh lime juice, and topped with a bit of soda water.
Best meal ever: It sounds cliche, but all the meals with my loved and cherished ones. I always remember the company and laughter many years after I have forgotten what the hell I ate.
Go-to spirit for new cocktails: Wheated bourbon.
Dream trip: Japan. I want to experience the heritage and tradition of such a proud and amazing culture. Their hospitality, innovations, and pop culture have always fascinated me.
One thing you'd change in the world: I'd create a professional football team in the state of Oregon. And world peace?! Right? World peace.
Favorite quote: "When you come to a fork in the road, take it..." Yogi Berra
Craziest thing you witnessed while bartending: I do not know why this sticks with me, but I had two weathered, tough and rough looking older men wearing cowboy hats and jeans covered in mud walk up to the bar one night. When I walked over to them I expected them to order cheap yellow beer and a shot. I was stunned to hear, "Cosmo, extra pink" and "Make me something with vodka and for heaven's sake DO NOT hold back on the pineapple juice." I still chuckle to myself thinking of that.
Best bartending lesson you've ever learned: Providing food and great drinks to all walks of people is not a life and death thing. Hospitality is fun. When done right, there is hope that all of humanity can all get along.
Advice for becoming a better bar guest: No, I will not plug in your phone for you behind the bar. In fact put the damn piece technology away. Enjoy the company of your bartenders, loved ones, and strangers. I promise you they are all more interesting than Facebook. You just have to be present.
Name: Alex Lerman
Where from: Born in Tucson, AZ. Denver ever since.
Behind the bar at: Green Russell
First job: Bagging groceries at Whole Foods Market
Last cocktail before you die: It would have to be a Martinez, since that was the cocktail that got me started in all of this.
Best meal ever: Anything my mom makes
Go-to spirit for new cocktails: Tequila
Dream trip: an endless supply of cash, my passport, and a change of clothes. I would love to fall off the grid for a while and just see where I end up.
One thing you'd change in the world: I would get rid of reality tv forever.
Favorite quote: "Assume nothing, make it happen" - My Dad
Craziest thing you witnessed while bartending: Outside of the nightclub I where I worked during college, I saw a fight between a guy who was easily 300 pounds and a guy who was a black belt in something. It was kind of one of those unstoppable force vs. immovable object situations.
Best bartending lesson you've ever learned: Don't rely on other people to learn things, what you get out of this profession is a direct result of the work you put into it.
Advice for becoming a better bar guest: Patience, an open mind, a sense of humor, and a request for something other than Tito's.
Name: Lauren Lowe
Where from: Grand Blanc, MI
Behind the bar at: RiNo Yacht Club
First job ever: Pacific Sunwear
Last cocktail before you die: Martinez
Best meal ever: A 7 course tasting menu with vintage wine pairings at City Zen in Washington, DC
Go-to spirit for new cocktails: Gin
Dream trip: Thailand for a summer, I would love to explore the culture of South East Asia.
One thing you'd change in the world: It would be great if we could all put away our phones just for a day and remember what it was like to be personable.
Motto or favorite quote: The more I get to know people, the more I like my dog.
Craziest thing you witnessed while bartending: Well, I work in The Source building; a lot of crazy things happen during a shift!
Best bartending lesson you've ever learned: That no matter what, everyday is going to be different and there is always something new to be learned.
Advice for becoming a better bar guest: It would be great if all our bar guests would be a little more adventurous. Venturing outside of their comfort zone and trusting their bartender to make them something delicious using ingredients they may have never heard of.
Name: Nick Lowe
Where from: Gainesville, FL
Behind the bar at: Mercantile and Star Bar
First job ever: Grocery bag boy
Last drink before you die: Laphroaig 25 year cask strength, in a glass
Best meal ever: City Zen, Washington, DC
Go-to spirit for new cocktails: Rye
Dream trip: Southeast Asia, because there is so much rich culture that I know very little about. And the food...
One thing you'd change in the world: Eliminate reality TV and all people associated therewith.
Motto: "Just Do It"
Craziest thing you witnessed while bartending: Breaking into the men's room at the end of the night to awaken a guest who had "fallen asleep" on the toilet.
Best bartending lesson you've ever learned: Approach your guests as though they are guests in your home.
Advice for becoming better bar guest: Just be honest