Central Mass’s Best Bartenders 2018

At Wormtown Brewery @wormtownbrewery / Photography by Matt Wright @mattwrightphoto

We asked, and you told us who you like to make your drinks. So we broke it down, by neighborhood, and here are the best bartenders in Central Mass. Stop in, say hi and ask them to mix up your favorite drink!

Shrewsbury Street

Aaron Hunter

British Beer Company

Age: 25.

Hometown: Millis. (Yes, that’s a town.)

Current town: Worcester.

Why do you think you won your category? I think I won my category because I’m a pretty memorable person. Everywhere I go, people always say, “Hey, don’t I know you from (insert random location here).”

What makes you a great bartender? My personality. I can go from really mellow to over-the-top fun depending on the crowd.

What else do you do besides bartend? I manage hip-hop artists, and I also help local recording artists understand how the music business works.

What do you love about being a bartender? I love meeting new people and figuring out what they’re all about. You never know who you’re going to meet while you’re bartending.

What is the most annoying thing a customer has done? This guy reached over the bar and tried touching my hair. That’s a big no-no.

What is your super power behind the bar? Definitely making customers laugh. I sing and dance a lot while I’m working, and guests usually laugh at that.

What drink do you make that you consider your specialty? I make some pretty funky gin drinks. I think gin is a super underrated spirit.

What do you do on your time off? I spend a lot of time in recording studios working with artists on their projects, or I’m at home reading and writing about music. Or traveling. I travel a lot.

What is something people are usually surprised to find out about you? That I’ve never had a haircut in my life (yes, all 25 years) or that I have a bachelor’s in business.

What do you drink when you go out? Either gin and tonic (Noletes gin) or any IPA.

Visit Aaron at the British Beer Company, 225 Shrewsbury St., Worcester. His hours change each week, so you’ll have to take your chances!

 

The Canal District

Crystal Pannoni

The Cove Music Hall

Age: 41.

Hometown: Somerset.

Current town: Dudley.

Why do you think you won your category? I’d like to think because I’m a great bartender *wink.*

What makes you a great bartender? What makes any great bartender, I believe, is customer service – without your customers, it’s pretty hard to be a great bartender! I learned at a very young age the customer is always right, and these are words of wisdom I’ve grown to understand and appreciate through the years in the industry.

What else do you do besides bartend? I love to have fun — always! New adventures — there’s something exciting about getting into your car with no particular destination and finding yourself in random places and among new, interesting people! I also love to travel as often and as much as possible. In fact, I’m off to Florida in two weeks to visit my BFF, and while there, we are booking a trip to Thailand in 2019! In addition, I love concerts — any and all genres of music, but particularly I love the ’80s! I LOVE LOVE LOVE animals. Lastly, anytime I spend with my family/fiancé and 9-year-old stepdaughter always puts a smile on my face — they are my favorite sidekicks.

What do you love about being a bartender? It’s never a dull moment!

What is the most annoying thing a customer has done? Do I have to pick only one? LOL … Actually, snapping the fingers comes to mind — that’s always fun!! And honestly, the most annoying might have to be the question, “So what’s your real job?” Need I say more?

What is your super power behind the bar? My smile.

What drink do you make that you consider your specialty? I’ll have to poll the customers *wink.*

What do you do on your time off? Enjoy life.

What is something people are usually surprised to find out about you? I love poker and have been playing since I was a kid! I’ve had the privilege of playing alongside — and beat — some who have played in the World Series of poker — pretty exciting! My nickname at the table is Black Widow!

What do you drink when you go out? I am a prosecco/mamosa all day kind of girl! But don’t be fooled — I like it in a plastic cup with ice. Nothing fancy here *wink.*

Visit Crystal at The Cove Music Hall, 89 Green St., Worcester, on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

 

Park Avenue

Ken Lague

Altea’s Eatery

Age: 30.

Hometown: Worcester.

Current town: Paxton.

Why do you think you won your category? I always try to do my part in providing the best customer experience possible. What makes a great experience varies from person to person. So being able to identify what brought people out and then catering the experience to suit their wants and needs. If its a date, recommending they share some Nutella crepes as a dessert while they finish their bucket of bubbles. Or if it’s talking sports with someone coming in for a Tito’s Bloody Mary after finishing a long night shift.

What makes you a great bartender? I pride myself on contributing to a positive experience for every customer.

What else do you do besides bartend? I’m a big sports fan, so I watch all the New England teams when I can. I like to go to the gym to unwind and let loose a bit. I’m also the proud “stepfather in training” to four children. So with all of their activities — karate, Cub Scouts, piano, Little League in the spring — I keep a pretty busy schedule. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What do you love about being a bartender? I love meeting new and interesting people. Bartending has provided me with the pleasure of meeting some really genuine, kind and interesting people from all walks of life. There is something really refreshing about connecting with someone I never would’ve had the chance to speak to if it weren’t for my profession.

What is the most annoying thing a customer has done? Most things I’ll usually just get a good laugh at. But I guess one pet peeve I have is someone asking for hot water, milk, lemon, honey…oh, and sweetner… for their own tea bag they brought. LOL.

What is your super power behind the bar? Being able to read people and how they are doing. Definitely a helpful skill.

What drink do you make that you consider your specialty? A spicy Bloody Mary with our house jalapeno-infused vodka and a perfect crushed red pepper rim.

What do you do on your time off? When my girlfriend and I aren’t doing something with the kids, we like to go out to all of the great restaurants in the Worcester area. I love to eat, so whether its steak or sushi I’m craving, I can always find something good and close by.

What is something people are usually surprised to find out about you? That I don’t drink alcohol anymore.

What do you drink when you go out? Well, seeing my drinking days are behind me, I’m a bit of a coffee connoisseur these days. But I always have a good mixed drink or craft beer recommendation for my friends depending on where we are.

Visit Ken at Altea’s Eatery, 259 Park Ave., Worcester, on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

 

Suburbs

Ana Martel

The Other Place Pub

Boylston, MA

Age: 28.

Hometown: West Boylston.

Current town: North Oxford.

Why do you think you won your category? To be honest, I’m not sure! LOL — I was kind of surprised. People love that I always have something sarcastic to say and am a bit of a smart aleck.

What makes you a great bartender? I think it would be that I’ve never changed who I am. Behind the bar and outside, I’ve always been myself. Sassy and mischievous. (And also) my ability to interact with my customers and remember how they want their drinks and food cooked!

What else do you do besides bartend? I love spending time with my son, who’s the best human being ever, and spending time with my boyfriend and friends. The gym has always been a passion of mine, as I compete in bodybuilding and enjoy the shooting range. Other hobbies include movies, being outside and snowboarding.

What do you love about being a bartender? What I love about being a bartender is the interaction I get with my regulars and also new customers that come in. They’re always ragging on me, and we’re always having fun. It’s like I get paid to hang out with friends.

What is the most annoying thing a customer has done? I would have to say having a Keno caddy thrown at me or when someone snaps their fingers at me.

What is your super power behind the bar? Making a pretty awesome drink and making someone laugh when I say something ridiculous. People are always impressed I remember what they drink and how they like their food cooked.

What drink do you make that you consider your specialty? I would have to say what people consider my specialty — and that would be my Lemon Drop Martini or my Red Sangria!

What do you do on your time off? I usually end up at the gym, hanging out with my son, boyfriend, friends and find something fun to do. I love trying out new restaurants. I LOVE FOOD.

What is something people are usually surprised to find out about you? That I have an almost 6-year-old son and that I do bodybuilding shows.

What do you drink when you go out? Tito’s and soda water. I know, I know — so plain and simple.

Visit Ana at The Other Place Pub, 72 Shrewsbury St., Boylston on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

 

North County

Bo Langelier

The GazBar

Leominster, MA

Age: 26.

Hometown: Sarasota, Fla.

Current town: Leominster.

Why do you think you won? Because I’m very personable with people.

What makes you a great bartender? I spend a lot of my bartending time focused on what makes a great time for everyone… that’s the key.

What else do you do besides bartend? I spend a lot of time with my kids, and if I’m not doing that, I’m at the gym daily. I play basketball a lot. I also have a obsession with reading; it dosent matter what it is, I just like to read.

What do you love about being a bartender? I love people. I love to get to know them because being behind a bar is way more then serving drinks. You become people’s best friend, and I feed off that because people just want to hang out and unwind and I’m am the one who makes that happen.

What is the most annoying thing a customer has done? Honestly, I know it might sound crazy, especially from a five-year bartender, but people don’t annoy me. I like the weird request. I like a challenge. Call me crazy, but hey, everyone is different.

What is your super power behind the bar? My super power is to understand what people like, and I can adapt ,not to just one but the entire bar. Also, in my opinion, I’m very fast.

What drink do you make that you consider your specialty? I would say Red Sangiria — not too sweet, not too sour — and it’s good for all seasons. And being behind a bar, people drink to the season.

What do you do on your time off? I like to travel, shop, learn anything new, and I’m very into hanging with my kids.

What is something people are usually surprised to find out about you? That I have three kids (haha).

What do you drink when you go out? I’m easy and also casual. I can drink for the string, but my go-to is Belvedere and soda — no straw, no fruit.

Visit Bo at the GazBar, 1045 Central St., Leominster, on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

 

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