9 Under-the-Radar Bartenders You Need to Know in Philly

By Danya Henninger  |  March 19, 2014
Credit: Vanessa Beahn

Philadelphia has a solid group of bartending stars (Phoebe Esmon, Katie Loeb, Vincent Stipo and George Costa come to mind), but as our cocktail game continues to rise, the ranks of the brigade are growing. We asked around and did some (admittedly tough) personal research to find nine impressive up-and-comers on the Philly drink scene. To exponentially increase the chances of your next drink being truly great, click through to meet nine under-the-radar bartenders you need to know.

  • Dominic Carullo at Emmanuelle

    Bartending cred: Nine years around Philadelphia and Seattle
    Favorite drink to make: The right cocktail, for the right person, at the right time
    Bar customer pet peeve: When people ask "So what do you really do? You know, like, what do you want to do when you're done tending bar?" Are you asking me what I want to be when I grow up?
    Best behind-the-bar experience: I've had so many good times behind the bar at Emmanuelle, I couldn't pick just one. We're a small family here, but there's a whole lotta love in our bar.
    Post-shift guilty pleasure: Three fingers of stiff whiskey, left over Mexican food, and any movie by Kurt Russell and Wes Craven.

  • Nate Churchill of XIX Nineteen

    Bartending cred: Seven years, two at Twenty21 and five at XIX
    Favorite drink to make: Manhattan, up with a twist
    Bar customer pet peeve: When people are yelling at me across the bar. I see you and I will get there.
    Best behind-the-bar experience: My Sunday shifts, when my regulars are all ordering cocktails off my personal menu.
    Post-shift guilty pleasure: Heading to Good Dog Bar for a Balvenie DoubleWood 12 Year and a shot of Jameson.

  • Jesse Cornell at Sbraga

    Bartending cred: “Not that long” - Sbraga since December, before that at Chick’s Social and Adsum
    Favorite drink to make: Sazerac. It was the first classic cocktail I really fell in love with. It's an incredibly simple drink to make but also can be easily thrown out of balance.
    Bar customer pet peeve: People that order mojitos in the winter time.
    Best behind-the-bar experience: When people do full dinner at the bar. Really gives me a chance to make a personal connection. Also, this one time, celebrity chef Kevin Sbraga sat at my bar.
    Post-shift guilty pleasure: My go to after work drink is a Miller High Life (must be ice cold) and a shot of Tully. I do not feel guilty about this at all.

  • Michelle Curtis at Lemon Hill

    Bartending cred: Eight years, including at JG Domestic and as a regional trainer and bartender for Bonefish Grill in Tampa
    Favorite drink to make: Any drink that will satisfy what a guest at my bar wants. I love the excitement & reaction when I match a cocktail to the flavor profile they were seeking.
    Bar customer pet peeve: Just watch the “Sh*t People Say to Bartenders” video. It sums up most of my pet-peeves.
    Best behind-the-bar experience: Fiscally, the best night ever was Village Whiskey reunion night at Lemon Hill. But in general, working with the amazing and crazy family we have at Lemon Hill has been my best bar experience ever.
    Post-shift guilty pleasure: To sit down! Drink a refreshing ale of some sort…and a shot of whiskey with my barback.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Max Sherman at Percy Street Barbecue

    Bartending cred: Almost two years, this is my first bartending gig.
    Favorite drink to make: Sazeracs
    Bar customer pet peeve: People who order whiskey liqueurs or flavored anything
    Best behind-the-bar experience: Serving Fergie [Fergus Carey of Monk’s Cafe, Fergie’s Pub, Grace Tavern and The Belgian Cafe]
    Post-shift guilty pleasure: Tacos

  • Credit: Vanessa Beahn

    Dan Carr at The Fat Ham

    Bartending cred: Six years, including time at Jose Pistola's, Pub & Kitchen and The Diving Horse
    Favorite drink to make: Shot and a beer. If we’re talking cocktails, making someone a perfect Manhattan is really awesome.
    Bar customer pet peeve: People who ask me “What’s good?”
    Best behind-the-bar experience: Watching the Phillies win the World Series and spraying beer over the whole crowd.
    Post-shift guilty pleasure: Burger and a sour beer at Grace Tavern

  • Michael Buonocore at The Franklin Mortgage and Investment Co. and Vernick Food & Drink

    Bartending cred: Six years
    Favorite drink to make: Cynar. Or Apple Brandy. Often together.
    Bar customer pet peeve: Nothing really...But if held a weapon to my head and made me answer this question, I'd go with inconsiderate, harsh or nasty behavior (life's too short).
    Best behind-the-bar experience: Top Gun night at Franklin Mortgage
    Post-shift guilty pleasure: Eating Sichuan in Chinatown, but the real guilt revolves around walking (or is it gliding?) home to the aural offerings of Michael "Soft G" Gordon, Page and Jon & Ernest.

  • Paul Dellevigne at Red Owl Tavern

    Bartending cred: 14 years, including opening Tritone, then working at Davio’s, Southwark and Rittenhouse Tavern
    Favorite drink to make: I’m really proud of the drink list at Red Owl right now, so I’ll happily make you any of our current specialty cocktails.  Also, after working with Kip at Southwark for years, I will happily make you a killer Manhattan.
    Bar customer pet peeve: Refusing to read the menus.  The list of beers we don’t have is a long one, try looking at the list of ones we do have.
    Best behind-the-bar experience: Best tip I ever received was at Davio’s. A young man sat at my bar and after looking over the menu for a minute, did himself right. He ordered the chicken liver app and a cowboy steak with a bottle of Opus One cab.  As I gave him his check he smiled at me kind of sheepishly. “Here’s the deal,” he said. “I’ve had a really rough week, and I needed to treat myself. Problem is, I have just enough money to cover my tab. That said, I only had half a glass of that bottle of cab. The rest is for you.” That bottle of Opus made doing my closing paperwork an absolute joy.
    Post-shift guilty pleasure: Korean sliders at Good Dog, especially if there’s a Western Conference hockey game on.

  • Donnie Galvano at Pub & Kitchen

    Bartending cred: Six years, on and off
    Favorite drink to make: Old fashioned or Negroni
    Bar customer pet peeve: No pet peeves. I just want everyone to have a good time. So I guess the customer who isn't having fun.
    Best behind-the-bar experience: The people I've worked with over the years. There are a few in particular who have had a major impact on my life.
    Post-shift guilty pleasure: A Malibu bay breeze