Nightclub & Bar is proud to showcase a selection of shining examples of originality, artistry, enterprise and prosperity — qualities essential to not only surviving but thriving in the modern nightlife industry. Many Winners were at the 2013 Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show in Las Vegas, March 19-21, walking the Red Carpet and receiving their awards!
A big shout out goes out to all of this year’s competitors as well as the judges who carefully considered hundreds of entries. Keep an eye on Nightclub.com in the coming week for the winning profiles of the Vegas Nightclub Categories. The Nightclub Awards profiles can be viewed HERE.
Bartender of the Year: Jeffrey Morgenthaler, Clyde Common, Portland, OR
Not many people can attest to creating a classic cocktail that epidemically spread across the USA but Jeffrey Morgenthaler has done just that. As the bar manager at Clyde Common he’s won kudos from everyone; everyone from other local bartenders to the James Beard Foundation (nominated last year for best bar program) have recognized him for innovations in barrel-aged cocktails and drinks that are carbonated and bottled in house. Working the stick since 1996 in everything from neighborhood taverns and college nightclubs to fine restaurants and upscale lounges, Jeffrey Morgenthaler is an award-winning bartender and this year’s Nightclub & Bar Bartender of the Year.
“It's a tremendous honor” Jeffrey said about becoming the Bartender of the Year. “Getting selected by my colleagues always means the world to me. You guys are the best.”
Morgenthaler always finds ways to share his mixo-savvy with the entire nation. His insight and recipes have appeared in everything from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal to Wine Enthusiast, Playboy, Wired, Imbibe and of course Nightclub & Bar. Forbes Traveler, Tasting Panel Magazine, and StarChefs.com have all recognized that Morgenthaler is a leader in mixology.
Ask Morgenthaler what he is best known for and he can’t tell you. “It's hard for me to say what I'm best known for.” But nonetheless he has made strides in this industry that even the best beverage experts envy. “I think I've given out a lot of solid advice over the years, from how to make great housemade ingredients like tonic water and ginger beer, to how to price a cocktail menu out at your bar. I've also tried to make it fun and pioneer some cool techniques.”
However, if there is one thing that Morgenthaler would like to be known for it’s “in some very small way, advancing the beverage industry a little bit.” His modesty is refreshing as he has clearly already made not small but huge strides within the industry.
In addition to the contributions that Morgenthaler has given to the industry he continuously tries to impress on the up and coming mixologists is to take in everything and learn as much as you can. “When I was coming up in the business, there was very little information out there,” he remembers. “We had to scrape together whatever information we could find and learn as much as possible from it.” However, Morgenthaler warns that even though there are more books and websites providing valuable information on how to hone skills make sure that you are weary of the bad information. “I've always advocated for looking up to the great teachers in our business. If you don't know who they are, figure it out.”
Beer Bar of the Year: Fatpour Tap Works, Chicago, IL
Fatpour Tap Works is an 8,500 square foot bar with the capacity of 260 guests and 50 beers on tap. It’s an upscale sports bar with an upbeat feel and welcoming service. This bar is well known for, well, it’s Fatpour of a frozen, 22 oz. mug of the draft beer of your choosing (and there is much to choose from.) In the heart of Wicker Park, Fatpour offers one of the largest selections of draft beers in Chicago; it is the beer-lovers Baskin Robbins.
There are two thrilling architectural features at Fatpour. First, a two story glass keg cooler placed in the center of the room where guests can see their beer stream down over 2 miles overhead from the cooler above straight into their glass. Then there is the special table feature; Fatpour offers taps built into the tables, allowing the guest to pour their own brew.
Between the extensive beer selection, the hospitable service, the affordable cost, and the satisfying American cuisine, Fatpour encompasses all the characteristics of a grade-A beer bar. The staff at Fatpour Tap Works strives to make every customer feel like a regular and after one night out, most come back wanting more beer and more fun.
Cocktail Bar of the Year: Williams & Graham, Denver, CO
Occupying a space of 1,800 square feet, William & Graham is known as the speakeasy bar with the best mixologists and the bookshelf around Denver. When thinking of Denver, Colorado, one does not usually think of the nightclub/bar scene. However, business partners Sean Keynon and Todd Colehour have broken this cow town stigma with their bar, Williams & Graham.
After the bar’s opening in November 2011, the team at William & Graham quickly made a name for themselves. This bar has made it known that they can mix up a mean cocktail and they are here to stay. In 2012 William & Graham won Westword’s Best of Denver “Top New Bar” and “Top Cocktails,” 5280 Top of the Town “Top Cocktails,” Fodd & Wine’s “Top 10 New Bars” and “Top 50 Bars” Nationally and now they can add to that list Nightclub & Bar’s Cocktail Bar of the Year.
William & Graham has turned mixology into an artistry with their classic and original cocktails. Customers make the trip to William & Graham for the well-known cocktails but stay for the charming setting and enthusiastic service. The bar staff truly understands the meaning of hospitality and they mix their potions behind the bar with quickness and composure to strive for complete satisfaction from their customers.
Hotel Bar of the Year: The Bar at the Dream Hotel, New York, NY
The Bar at the Dream Hotel New York is 1,100 square feet and offers an eclectic group of people chic nights of libations and socializing with an excellent view of New York City. Wrapped around the room are charming, russet shades against a modernized brick wall. The Bar has a vintage atmosphere with cigar-brown armchairs draped with menswear fabric throughout the room, high pub style tables, and a marble bar top. To add to the sophistication, tilted mirrors are ornamented throughout The Bar to adhere to the curious mind to get a glimpse of what is happening when backs are turned.
The Bar has something for everyone. The cocktail selection can only be described as classic and simple. Each drink is carefully crafted by the bartenders. There is also a wide-ranging Beer Manuel. Whether the customers’ forte is crafted beers such as Smith’s Nut Brown Ale or traditional choices such as Coors Light, The Bar will leave everyone satisfied. While enjoying a drink skillfully poured behind the bar, customers can snack on small dishes to appease their hunger between mingling.
The Bar is a re-invention of Midtown Manhattan and is an invigorating change of pace for the typical bar goer. While The Bar does have an incomparable sense of elegance, this establishment in the heart of the city is equipped with two large flatscreen TVs perfect for watching the big games. Whether looking for a place to tap into the sports lover within, or just a relaxing hang out to meet friends, The Bar is the perfect spot to unwind and watch New York come alive just outside the window.
Restaurant Bar of the Year: The Tasting Kitchen, Venice, CA
The Tasting Kitchen located in Venice, California is much different from other restaurant bars in the country. Executive Chef Casey Lane and barsmith/mixologist Justin Pike are an unstoppable force in the culinary world. Pike, named “L.A.’s Best Bartender” by Food & Wine uses obscure ingredients in his cocktails to recreate hard-to-find herbal liquors and new great tasting drinks. Pike views his work as artistry and his own form of expression, “If I can create a drink that both the novice and seasoned drinker will enjoy, that is when I feel I have done a good job,” says Pike.
What makes the duo so uncommon is that Lane often cooks according to the cocktails Pike creates. “The way Casey’s food takes inspiration from the cocktails is not only unusual for a restaurant, but it also encourages conversation and curiosity between staff and our guests,” Pike reveals. Creativity behind the bar keeps Pike ahead of the cocktail trends and keeps guests on their toes with the newest cocktails being Lane’s inspiration for her dishes.
When walking into the 4,700 square foot vicinity, customers get a sense of modernism with elements of the past. The atmosphere of The Tasting Kitchen is very inviting and energetic. The elements of the past are inspired by the pre-prohibition era, such as the all wooden bar top and old fashion bar stools. Pike writes all his drink specials on a traditional chalkboard. The Tasting Kitchen is also a green establishment; the temperature is controlled by the architecture: cement floors, wooden beams, and brick work throughout the establishment.
The Tasting Kitchen has a very relaxed feel to it, with two 90-year-old olive trees right in the main dining room and a small bamboo forest right outside the window. The upstairs of the restaurant, known as Mezzanine, also combines modern and past elements. There is a bookcase, vintage chandelier, and a large table which encourages guest interaction. With the combination of past and present, cocktail inspired dishes, and hospitality, it’s no wonder The Tasting Kitchen is known throughout the country.
Ongoing Promotion of the Year: Beat the Clock at Bar Anticipation, Lake Como, NJ
Bar Anticipation in Lake Como, NJ is one of America’s largest nightclub/restaurants with a knack for hospitality and customer satisfaction. This is proven time and time again, however there is one promotion that puts Bar Anticipation above and beyond their hospitable reputation: “Beat the Clock” Tuesdays.
The “Beat the Clock” special is an ingenious way to fill the bar at an early hour and keep the customers excited and coming back for more. The way “Beat the Clock” works is as follows: 8pm on Tuesday rolls around and MillerLite draft beers are only 50 cents a pop. With every stricken hour, the draft beer price raises 25 cents until midnight. No customer would dare complain about the prices at Bar Anticipation on a Tuesday; the highest a Miller Lite draft will cost a patron is $1.50!
There are 35 bartenders at your service at the 14 bars within Bar Anticipation while half a dozen cocktail waitresses attend to the VIP outdoor cabanas and the living rooms. Customers can enjoy a rocking band and DJ inside the bar or a DJ outdoors. “Beat the Clock” Tuesdays were implemented in 1992 and have made millions of dollars since then. Bar Anticipation has been known to have a turnout of 3,000 people a night in the summer months and 800 guests a night during the off season. During 4th of July weekend last year, “Beat the Clock” Tuesday forced Bar Anticipation to turn away approximately 4,000 customers being that capacity was already reached at 6:30pm. Whether a bar determines success of a promotion by the amount of revenue that is brought in or if the 25,000 square foot bar is filled to capacity in the early evening, Bar Anticipation has exceeded any and all expectations with their “Beat the Clock” Tuesdays.
Single Promotion of the Year: Zombie Apocalypse at Vertigo Sky Lounge, Chicago, IL
The 2,500 square foot Vertigo Sky Lounge, located on the 26th floor of Dana Hotel and Spa, has been known for their first-rate rooftop lounge, year round outdoor patio, and their out of this world view of the historic State St. These days, Vertigo is known for something a little more eccentric; being the victim of a Zombie Apocalypse. The attack occurred on Friday, October 26th 2012, and although there was no shortage of the undead, it was certainly a lively affair.
Over 100 soulless corpses were placed at every entrance of the hotel where the zombies broke out into flash mobs resulting in the perfect apocalyptic party. The hotel cleverly put together zombie-inspired party packages. Each guest was given a hotel room and “survival kit” equipped with whistle, flashlight, hotel map, and choice of a “final meal.” The guests were warned to be weary of the terror they may encounter throughout the hotel, like the zombies screeching and scratching joining them in the elevator on the 5th floor.
Upon their entrance, the guests were given a complimentary “infection scan.” Professional stunt zombies were seen banging on the windows, dangling from the 26th floor over the street. There were several flash mobs throughout the event and the opportunity to win $1,000 dollars in prizes for best zombie dance move, best costume and the like made patrons eager to get in on the action.
Following the Zombie Apocalypse, the hotel featured a weekend long Zombie Brunch at Argent Raw Restaurant. Seasonal delicacies were featured with spooky cocktails such as the Corpse Reviver. Guests who wished to recuperate, special zombie reviving spa treatments were offered. There were a total of 800 deceased party-goers and the event attracted local and national media coverage.
Small Wonder Bar of the Year: Pour Vous, Los Angeles, CA
Pour Vous, positioned in the heart of Hollywood’s nightclub scene is a refreshing change of pace from its techno-driven location. This bar has an intimate setting with a square footage of 1,685 and seating for only 40 guests. Pour Vous is inspired by 1900 France with a Parisian vibe. An evening at Pour Vous is guaranteed to be a classy affair.
The interior of Pour Vous exudes sophistication. There is no shortage of marble in this bar; the bar along with the table tops are entirely made up of beautiful, white marble. Due to the scarcity of glimmer on the marble bar top, the centerpiece is a shining cappuccino machine which has been transformed to function as a bar tap. The chairs and tables at Pour Vous have an antique feel and are paired with luxurious, deep red booths. The outdoor patio area is a refurbished trolley. There is an intimate, circular seating area and to add to this romantic setting, overhead there is magnificent golden, domed ceiling.
Pour Vous has been known to host black-tie events, reminding guests of better times when reality television and iPhones did not run the world. No matter the occasion, however, the guests always dress to impress with vintage styles modified to fit the latest trends.
The drinks at Pour Vous are French inspired with risqué French names such as Minage a Trois. Pour Vous prides themselves on their fine spirits, wine, and champagne. There are live performances throughout the evening including acrobatics, fire twirling, or burlesque dancing. Pour Vous often has lively jazz bands, DJ’s spinning retro records, and French singers performing covers of popular American hits. Pour Vous is a tasteful bar with a sultry atmosphere, if in attendance; customers are in for an evening of elegance and libations.
Sports Bar of the Year: CBS Scene Restaurant and Bar, Foxboro, MA
People have been talking about Patriot’s Place plaza in Foxboro, Massachusetts quite a bit lately, and it has got nothing to do with Gillette Stadium; all the buzz is about CBS Scene Restaurant and Bar. When walking through Patriot’s Place, CBS Scene is almost impossible to miss; the restaurant is three stories high and has sleek, wrap around windows. CBS Scene has a strong, professional exterior similar to that of a sports news broadcasting building. Going with the CBS television theme, the interior of the bar has a modern feel with a splash of the past thrown in using old school television paraphernalia on the walls. With 145 high definition TVs, a TV at every table, beer, and a total of 15,000 square feet, CBS Scene embodies all the characteristics of a great sports bar.
The bar at CBS is large and fully stocked. There is an abundance of beers on tap and an excellent selection of wines and cocktails. CBS Scene has an extensive menu filled with popular family dishes (pizza, burgers, chicken, etc) but they also have stimulating cuisines such as sea food dishes, steak, salads, and desserts. People come out to CBS Scene for a family dinner and/or to have an entertaining night full of libations and sports.
With its abundance of high definition TVs, is entertainment oriented. This bar, plain and simple, wants its customers to have a great time. There are weekly events and promotions including trivia from 7-9pm on Tuesdays so that sports junkies can test their knowledge against other teams. Boston Sporting events are always listed so that customers never have to miss a game; it’s an excellent alternative to actually being at the Garden. Sports junkies, food lovers, and beer drinkers alike will always come back for more after visiting CBS Scene Restaurant and Bar.