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5 Bartenders Better Than Me 

Critics' Pick

click to enlarge Jack Lauterback - SCOTT ELMQUIST

by Jack Lauterback

Where to begin? First I want to thank my Mom for hacking into the electronic voting to cast many ballots for her only son. Also, to her co-workers, who have barely met me. Without your campaigning, someone more deserving would have won, which would have totally sucked, so thanks again.

Speaking of my more deserving competitors, I want to apologize. You’ve spent countless hours perfecting drink recipes, building solid relationships with customers and generally being awesome at your job, whilst I have been aloof and apathetic for the better part of four years behind the bar. I’m sure it wasn’t easy becoming a great bartender, and luckily I’ll never have to experience anything that’s not easy.

So for once, enough about me. Here are five of many bartenders better than me:

1. Dane Acton, deLux Diner & Lounge. A former co-worker and friend, that doesn’t mean he can’t tend one hell of a bar. Dane controls a teeming crowd of demanding drinkers with a calm demeanor and the speed and accuracy of a gunslinger.

2. Sean Telliard, Morton’s, the Steakhouse. I once saw Mr. Telliard at a stoplight on Broad Street on a Tuesday afternoon, top down on his old-school Benz, wearing sunglasses and smiling. He laughed and yelled out, “Hey slacker, get a real job!” Funny, easygoing and knowledgeable, what all bartenders should be.

3. Bobby Kruger, Julep’s Southern Cuisine. Part of the growing mixology set. He makes a mean everything, including things most of us would never dream of mixing. If I want a unique and tasty drink, I hit up Bobby. In addition to having his skills featured on the Travel Channel, he’s the proud owner of a fine vest collection.

4. Otto Bartsch, Bandito’s Burrito Lounge and deLux Diner & Lounge. Part of a generation of great Fan bartenders including, among many, Paige, Beau Beau, Art, Randy O’Dell and Sean Cannon. Otto’s unique because he has like nine different degrees. A law degree, an engineering degree, a degree of separation from Kevin Bacon. He’s smarter than us and can run farther, but isn’t the least bit pretentious. He’ll have you smiling from drink number one.

5. Marithe Baclagon, F.W. Sullivan’s Fan Bar & Grille. While there are seven or eight female bartenders who could slap a pink sundress on me and call me Susie (shout out to Cammy Kostin), the Reefer stands out. This petite Asian spitfire is loaded with tats and a stable of regulars who follow her. I’ve spent many a shift behind the planks with this temptress, and can testify that she has the skills to hang with the best of them.

Previous Winners

(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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