Britt Tracy from Heyday
When you make the drinks that might be enjoyed with some of the most innovative dishes in the city, where do you start? You start with a sense of self, which Britt Tracy has. She’s as comfortable in the kitchen as she is behind the bar. Asking Jim Christiansen for ingredients to play with has never been an issue, and there’s ease between both teams, which clearly benefits her drinks list. While other mixers may favor intricate and complex combinations, Tracy is enamored with the idea of three-ingredient drinks, allowing her to be innovative while never losing sight of the core flavors. Sample The Frasier with sherry, sumac shrub, and sweet vermouth to see what she means.
Night Off: You might find Tracy at Dan Oskey’s bar at Hola Arepa. She’ll likely be drinking a Negroni.
Missy Kissling from Parlour
Missy Kissling believes she has the best job in the world, and you’d be hard-pressed to argue otherwise if you sat at her bar. While others constrain themselves in old-time finery and dappery, Kissling often dons a polka-dot apron, which speaks to the joie de vivre she carries throughout her shifts at Parlour. She interacts with guests on that old-school level that invites them onto her stage. Maybe that’s why she sees the evolution of the drinking scene as a collaborative act, one that the drinkers have to be an integral part of and one that must include a key element: having a good time. Perhaps kick it off by ordering the drink called Naked Jumping Jacks, made of gin and sherry with apricot, ginger, and lime.
Night Off: Living in the North Loop neighborhood means Kissling will amble over to Cuzzy’s for a little low-brow dinner and a Basil Hayden's bourbon, neat.
Robb Jones from Spoon and Stable
It’s no small thing to be tapped for the hottest opening in an age, by chef Gavin Kaysen, no less. No pressure there. But Robb Jones is up to the task. He’s the complete package: a background in the kitchen, several bartending competition titles under his belt, and an even temperament that befits his lanky frame. His philosophy is about finding forgotten classic cocktails and making them modern and spectacular. Witness the Crusta, which is like a little-known early version of the Sidecar. Under his vision, it’s an elegantly lithe brandy drink with a playfully short stripe of sugar on the rim.
Night Off: Jones heads for Hola Arepa for either a Victoria lager with a shot of tequila, or he plays cuy (guinea pig) and orders a mystery drink from Dan Oskey and Birk Grudem.
Adam Gorski from La Belle Vie Lounge
In the chaotic world of shifting bartenders, Adam Gorski puts down roots. His last gig at Eat Street Social lasted two-and-a-half years (a lifetime in the bar biz). This is a desirable characteristic, especially since he has taken over the lead of the iconic La Belle Vie bar where Johnny Michaels reigned for many years. Gorski is affable, steadfast, and solidly grounded. He understands the balance between service and art form. His endgame is to make drinks that delight and perhaps educate. His Brown Derby is a lifted bourbon sour, made elegant and refreshing with fresh grapefruit and honey. It’s so aromatic that it hits you from across the room, respectfully.
Night Off: Gorski might go visit his best friend Robb Jones at Spoon and Stable, or head down to Marvel Bar for Pip Hanson’s flawless martini.