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best bartenders for regulars?

dianalim Mar 6, 2012 05:35 PM

are you a regular at a bar? i'm looking for spots that are good for frequent repeat visits, but not for snazzy food or well-mixed cocktails (though there could be that). i'm thinking of that kind of vibe where you have a bartender that talks to you and the other folks at the bar so that by the time you finish your first round you want to stay and have another and talk to your neighbor. got any faves hounders?

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    pollystyrene RE: dianalim Mar 6, 2012 06:44 PM

    Cheers! Kidding. I think Silvertone fits that description. I don't like their cocktails, but that's not what you're looking for, and I think it's got that friendly-bartender, neighborhoody vibe when it's not overly crowded. I've only been downstairs at the Cantab, but I'd imagine it has that vibe upstairs, along with some of the Irish pubs like The Druid, The Burren, Plough and Stars, etc. If you prefer your banter with a slur, try Sligo!

    1 Reply
    1. re: pollystyrene
      dianalim RE: pollystyrene Mar 6, 2012 06:53 PM

      thanks polly! i'm not NOT interested in upscale, i just like to go to places where there's a bit of camaraderie :)

    2. Beachowolfe RE: dianalim Mar 6, 2012 06:55 PM

      Bus Stop Pub

      1. MC Slim JB RE: dianalim Mar 6, 2012 07:42 PM

        Regular status depends on building long-term relationships with staff, so what you want is a good bar with a solid front-of-house core, not a lot of turnover. Identify that (with "good bar" being a very personal judgement), and the rest is easy.

        Frequent the bar because you like it. Keep going back, even on nights when the weather is shitty or everyone's on vacation or home watching the Oscars. Be unfailingly polite, a well-behaved customer who isn't demanding and brings similarly well-behaved friends with him. Tip well, don't push last call, and go home before you wear out your welcome, i.e., know your limits. There are many other rules of good bar etiquette; my favorite summary is here: http://www.drunkard.com/issues/01-02/...

        It's not that some bars are somehow magically better to regulars than others. It's just that some bars have good, solid staffs, and loyal, well-behaved customers at such places inevitably get to be well-treated.


        6 Replies
        1. re: MC Slim JB
          dianalim RE: MC Slim JB Mar 6, 2012 07:57 PM

          love it! any suggestions for where to get started?

          1. re: dianalim
            MC Slim JB RE: dianalim Mar 7, 2012 06:05 AM

            Sure! Give me some examples of places you consider to be good bars.


          2. re: MC Slim JB
            Bellachefa RE: MC Slim JB Mar 7, 2012 06:29 AM

            what a funny blog - and that artwork!!!

            1. re: Bellachefa
              MC Slim JB RE: Bellachefa Mar 7, 2012 06:41 AM

              The magazine regularly had cool stuff, but the 86 Rules of Boozing piece is still my favorite.


            2. re: MC Slim JB
              hotoynoodle RE: MC Slim JB Mar 10, 2012 10:39 AM

              and the internet has ruined some of my favorite bars.

              1. re: MC Slim JB
                marais RE: MC Slim JB Mar 10, 2012 06:26 PM

                Slim's advice is totally spot on. I would find it impossible to commend this bartender or that on a relationship basis because it is a deeply personal thing. Besides, I don't go to a bar for a relationship with a bartender (though manners and friendly respect help) but I go there for a well-made drink. Generally speaking, if you hear the drinks are really good at a particular bar, you should enjoy the ambiance as well.

              2. l
                LeoLioness RE: dianalim Mar 6, 2012 08:28 PM

                Are you focusing on a particular neighborhood (near home or work)?

                6 Replies
                1. re: LeoLioness
                  dianalim RE: LeoLioness Mar 6, 2012 08:40 PM

                  good question. i live in cambridge (central) but get around the city for work so would also enjoy options in south end, north end, downtown/financial.

                  1. re: dianalim
                    yumyum RE: dianalim Mar 6, 2012 08:56 PM

                    If you're in Central hie thee over to Rendezvous when Scott is behind the bar. He isn't chatty cathy but he endeavors to make your drink to your liking and offer a few twists of his own, especially employing the fresh herbs they favor. He is a low-key barkeep with a font of geeky cocktail knowledge but that's not to say he couldn't become your best friend. I'd start there.

                    1. re: yumyum
                      yarm RE: yumyum Mar 13, 2012 01:39 PM

                      I agree about Scott at Rendezvous. He has also introduced me (and others) to their neighbors. He definitely displays a great sense of old school (but low key) bartender charm.


                    2. re: dianalim
                      LeoLioness RE: dianalim Mar 7, 2012 06:15 AM

                      Trina at Trina's Starlite Lounge is a true gem of a bartender. Just an all-around nice, engaging person who is very good at her job.

                      1. re: dianalim
                        Northender RE: dianalim Mar 13, 2012 12:16 PM

                        I know you are not looking for upscale but I have to give a shout out to the bartenders at Prezza (North end) who, despite usually being extremely busy, will find time to chat if you engage them and often help you meet other folks at the bar who are regulars. I only go there about once every 2 -3 months and despite that, I am remembered and well treated. They also mix cocktails quite competently ( and in sizeable amounts as well).

                        1. re: Northender
                          Bellachefa RE: Northender Mar 13, 2012 06:17 PM

                          I haven't been to Prezza in a long time, but it is certainly a place that comes to mind for excellent solo dining at the bar. Very welcoming.

                          Down in Randolph, Caffe Bella has a great bar with a great communal following with Angel the bartender and others.

                    3. yarm RE: dianalim Mar 6, 2012 11:02 PM

                      Paul Manzelli at Bergamot (more of a restaurant with a bar) has an incredible gift for making guest, especially regulars, feel entertained and at home. Great once the diners have left so he has more time to pay attention to the bar patrons. He's great for getting people to talk at the bar. Maybe more upscale than you were seeking, but he fits your description better than any other I've encountered.


                      5 Replies
                      1. re: yarm
                        barleywino RE: yarm Mar 7, 2012 03:57 AM

                        agreed-- Paul is usually off on Tuesdays but otherwise you should be able to catch him there. Also watch this board for info on where Todd Maul (currently at Clio, which may be too chi chi for your tastes) ends up next, allegedly in Cambridge/Somerville somewhere. Nicole Lebedevitch at Hawthorne and John Mayer at Local 149 (Southie) might be others to check out.

                        1. re: barleywino
                          yarm RE: barleywino Mar 7, 2012 09:12 AM

                          Paul and Kai are both off on Sundays. I dig Kai as well so Paul's absence isn't as painful; some nights they're both on.

                          I started to mentioned Todd in my post but deleted it. He is very good at chatting with regulars as opposed to hotel guests and diners who comprise most of his business it seems. Never has seemed to be the most social of bars though (in talking with your neighbors) though.

                          I agree about John Mayer and he's probably allowed to have more fun at Local 149 than at Craigie.

                          1. re: yarm
                            barleywino RE: yarm Mar 7, 2012 09:38 AM

                            i was in Bergamot yesterday and they said Paul's days off nowadays were Tuesdays (he used to do trivia contests at another bar then). I think you're right though that he used to be off some Sundays. I'm hoping Todd will get to bust loose in his new place soon...

                        2. re: yarm
                          chefematician RE: yarm Mar 7, 2012 07:09 AM

                          I agree with this as well. I always sit at the bar at Bergamot when I go there. Paul and Kai are wonderful; they know their stuff and they go out of their way to make patrons feel welcome.

                          1. re: yarm
                            rlh RE: yarm Mar 13, 2012 11:46 AM

                            Another supporter of Paul and the Bergamot bar - always a pleasure, even for a mere semi-regular - and terrific drinks as well!

                          2. b
                            BellaBoston RE: dianalim Mar 10, 2012 07:13 AM

                            Funny! Before I read the other replies I was thinking Paul at Bergamot as well.

                            Stella bartenders always know your name as does the whole crew at Storyville. I've been going there for years (when it was saint) Gracey and Jillian are still around and always make you feel like they're excited to see you...remember your name/ story etc. English Bill has joined here as well and same story goes for him.

                            KO Prime--Asher and Murph--2 of my favorites.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: BellaBoston
                              Parsnipity RE: BellaBoston Mar 10, 2012 04:39 PM

                              Speaking of Pauls, does anyone know where Paul from Gargoyle's went? That was a good bar for regulars.

                              1. re: Parsnipity
                                yumyum RE: Parsnipity Mar 15, 2012 04:33 PM

                                Love Paul. Some of the bartenders from Gargoyles are trying to do their thing at Soundbites bar. I haven't been by so I'm not sure if Paul is there, but there is a Gargoyles afterlife Facebook page where you can follow the happenings.

                                1. re: yumyum
                                  yarm RE: yumyum Mar 15, 2012 10:39 PM

                                  What's the bar menu like at Soundbites? I have only seen what they do for brunch.

                                  1. re: yarm
                                    yumyum RE: yarm Mar 16, 2012 07:01 AM

                                    No idea -- I haven't made it over there at night yet. Hope someone will checkit and report back!

                                    1. re: yarm
                                      MC Slim JB RE: yarm Mar 16, 2012 07:17 AM

                                      Not the first place I think of for drinks, for sure: http://www.soundbitesrestaurant.com/f...

                                      Their specialty cocktail list includes a Manhattan is made with Crown Royal. (That's actually kinda edgy!) There's a bunch of Sex and the City-dreadful sugary fauxtinis, like a chocolate "martini": Stoli Vanil, creme de cacao, Godiva chocolate liqueur, and half-and-half. (I want to scrape my tongue just reading that.)

                                      And there's something called a 007 (Stoli O, OJ and 7-Up) and a Peaches and Cream. Want to guess? Yep, it's Bailey's and peach schnapps. I believe the word called for here is "Delish!"

                                      I am hopeful that the old Gargoyles crew will pull them out of drinks-for-minors-and-grandmas territory.


                                      1. re: MC Slim JB
                                        yumyum RE: MC Slim JB Mar 16, 2012 09:25 AM

                                        Here's more information about the Gargoyles reunions at Soundbites (from the Gargoyles afterlife FB page):

                                        "Hey kids! Next week Sound Bites is launching "First Fridays!" Its a Gargoyles reunion party that happens....you guessed it!...the FIRST FRIDAY of every month! Greg Beadle and friends will be mixing specialty drinks at the bar! See you next week!"

                                        The regular drinks menu looks terrible but I gather that they are spinning some good ones on Fridays.

                                        Also, looks like Paul is seeking to open a new venture on Highland Ave in Somerville, although he doesn't say what it is... bar? restaurant?

                                        1. re: yumyum
                                          enhF94 RE: yumyum Mar 16, 2012 12:01 PM

                                          Paul is opening something in Medford Square this summer, I think. I forget details but he's not shy about it.

                              2. tammyh RE: dianalim Mar 13, 2012 01:59 PM

                                Does anyone have suggestions for the Brighton/Brookline area? This thread makes me wish I had a local joint. Was thinking of Umami because of the good things I hear about Noon, but then she just left ...

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