Qualities Of The Best Bartenders

Beth Dixon of Pasture. Photo by Steven Casanova.

Beth Dixon of Pasture. Photo by Steven Casanova.

As stewards of social lubricants, bartending is no easy task. We trust them with our secrets, our palates, and the quality of an evening out. 

Pasture’s Beth Dixon combines handcrafted cocktails with a friendly smile and delivers without pretense. It’s no wonder why her customers return week after week.

Her secret to superior service? Having each utensil, glass and mixer exactly in the right place. 

“I have [Pasture's] bar set up to serve 100+ cocktails rapidly. When things get moved, I’m lost, which means less face time with our customers,” Beth points out. Serving up personalized recommendations with conviction, one-on-one interactions provide the backbone for an excellent bar program. 

Whether her guests enjoy a cold draft or the Woodbridge, a main staple cocktail blending Commonwealth Gin, sage syrup, blood orange juice and Jack Rudy aromatic bitters for a sweet taste, they stay for Beth. On a crowded Saturday evening, her presence alone compliments every other aspect of the dining experience.

According to Restaurant Hospitality, 80% of all customer interaction is nonverbal. Deliberate eye contact and sincere smiles can turn an ordinary visit into an unforgettable one. 

Heritage's Mattias Hagglund. Photo by Tommy McPhail.

Heritage's Mattias Hagglund. Photo by Tommy McPhail.

Heritage’s Mattias Hagglund embraces this idea by not only training his staff to perfect nonverbals, but by cultivating an opulent atmosphere. Top shelf liquors become ‘passport offerings’ while each customer is welcomed by stepping through a red velvet curtain - touches that masterfully elevate the guest experience. 

“We try to make everyone feel welcome, but not be intrusive,” Mattias says. 

His 10 years of bartending expertise have not gone unnoticed by his customers or the community as Heritage was recently named Richmond’s Restaurant of the Year at the annual Elby awards. He believes the storytelling behind the cocktail is partially responsible.

“It’s nice to have a story to tell about what you’re serving,” Mattias shares. “Our customers relate to the conversation about what’s behind a meal or a drink.” Genuine conversation helps guests trust a bartender’s sensibility. Comprehensive top-down feedback ranging from employees to customers are incorporated into Heritage’s price-points and prospective offerings. 

“We’ll try (a new drink) 10-20 times before it’s ready. We’ll test amongst ourselves first, then by blending flavors until it’s just right for our customers.”  

Dedication, passionate storytelling and a personal touch combined with tailored recommendations help raise the bar set.

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