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8 Under-the-Radar Bartenders You Should Know

By Amber Ambrose
February 4, 2014

Mixing a great drink is one thing; mixing a great drink when there are seven people waiting to order, three people waiting to pay their tab and one person asking you questions about specific drinks is entirely another. With your help, we've chosen eight bartenders that have been adept at all of the above while still flying under the radar - until now. With experience that ranges from more than a decade to mere months, here are eight bartenders that deserve your recognition. Cheers to you, ladies and gentlemen.

  • "Rose" Rocha

    Current bar: El Big Bad (419 Travis St.; 713-229-8181)
    How long she's been tending bar: 5 years
    Favorite drink to make: Any kind of specialty drink on the El Big Bad menu (Churro Flip and Peanut Butter Jelly Time to name a few)
    Favorite drink to order: Hemingway, Dark 'n' Stormy or Moscow mule
    When not at the bar: She enjoys hanging with her English Mastiff Gus, entering pin-up competitions, going to classic car shows and being a brand ambassador for Sailor Jerry rum.

  • Kenny "Yeti" Freeman

    Current bar: Anvil Bar & Refuge (1424 Westheimer Rd.; 713-523-1622)
    How long he's been tending bar: 2 years
    Favorite drink to make: Mint julep
    Favorite drink to order: Whiskey and a beer
    When not at the bar: He's reading a book and drinking coffee, or hanging out at Poison Girl, Double Trouble, Grand Prize and La Carafe.

  • Photo by: Jasmine Lee Richardson

    Cheryl "C-Pain" Gibbs

    Current bar: Captain Foxheart's Bad News Bar & Spirit Lodge (308 Main St.)
    How long she's been tending bar: 10 years
    Favorite drink to make: Stirred classics like the Manhattan, old-fashioned and Sazerac
    Favorite drink to order: A shot of Campari or Jameson and a Lone Star
    When not at the bar: You can find her by the water - beach, pool, boat, on water skis - or at Grand Prize Bar, Beaver's, Goro & Gun, El Big Bad and others.

  • Nathan "Nasty Nate" Refell

    Current bar: 1919 Wine & Mixology (2736 Virginia St.; 713-568-9196), as well as upcoming rum bar, Lei Low
    How long he's been tending bar: 6 years
    Favorite drink to make: Pisco sours
    Favorite drink to order: A shot and a beer, gin martini made with Tanqueray 10
    When not at the bar: He's most likely reading old cocktail books, running in Memorial Park, shopping in thrift stores or drinking at Downtown bars like Bad News Bar, Pastry War or El Big Bad.

  • Photo by: Jenna Barrett

    Leslie "The Drink Alchemist" Ross

    Current bar: Triniti (2815 S. Shepherd Dr.; 713-527-9090)
    How long she's been tending bar: 13 years
    Favorite drink to make: Cocktails made with beer
    Favorite drink to order: Mezcal served neat and paired with bubbly, a "match made in heaven"
    When not at the bar: She's studying and researching for cocktail inspiration, visiting Tonique in New Orleans or reminiscing about The Bramble Bar in Edinburgh, United Kingdom.

  • Bruno Martinez

    Current bar: Caracol (2200 Post Oak Blvd.; 713-622-9996)
    How long he's been tending bar: 4 years
    Favorite drink to make: Old-fashioned
    Favorite drink to order: A beer, straight reposado tequila or scotch
    When not at the bar: He plays drums in a Latin band and likes to hang out at Flying Saucer, Hay Merchant or karaoke bars.

  • Julie Rogers

    Current bar: Down House (1801 Yale St.; 713-864-3696)
    How long she's been tending bar: 9 months
    Favorite drink to make: Caipirinha (she enjoys "violent muddling")
    Favorite drink to order: Sherry or a tiki cocktail
    When not at the bar: You can catch her sleeping, drinking "absurd" amounts of tea, studying or getting a drink at Double Trouble, 13 Celsius or Poison Girl.

  • Photo by: Alex Gregg

    Christa "Monster" Havican

    Current bar: Boheme Cafe & Wine Bar (307 Fairview St.; 713-529-1099)
    How long she's been tending bar: 3.5 years
    Favorite drink to make: Old-fashioned
    Favorite drink to order: Old-fashioned
    When not at the bar: She's usually baking with booze, painting with watercolors (catch her art show at MKT Bar in Downtown soon), hanging out in Menil Park or visiting industry friends at their bars.

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Places Mentioned

Boheme Cafe and Wine Bar

Bar • Montrose

Atmo.24 Decor22 Service22 CostM
 
 
 
Anvil Bar & Refuge

Bar • Montrose

Atmo.24 Decor22 Service22 CostE
 
 
 
Triniti Restaurant

American • Montrose

Food- Decor- Service- CostE
 
 
 
 
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