Meet 8 Of Chicago's Hottest Bartenders

If you're single and lookin' to mingle, you've probably visited your fair share of local watering holes. And, despite what you've heard, you can meet a nice guy in a bar. In fact, we've got eight of them that come with our personal seal of approval. But, if you want to get to know one of these handsome blokes, you're going to have to saunter up to the bar — because that's where they work.
That's right, we've rounded up a group of handsome Chicago bartenders that will make the ice in your rocks glass melt, if not your heart. With dashing good looks, charm, and talent, they have all the perfect, um, ingredients of a perfect bartender — and drinking buddy. So, what are you waiting for? Click through and get ready to be shaken and stirred!
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Photographed by Grace Willis.
Brian Sturgulewski: Drumbar

Favorite drink to make:
"Whatever is going to make the guest happy. I'm a bartender. I work for you. That said, I can make some pretty cool stuff, so keep an open mind. If I try to steer you away from the dirty vodka martini, it's only because you can get that anywhere. Let me try to make your experience special."

Tips for getting better service at the bar:
"Be understanding. You know when you're swamped at work, and it seems like you'll never catch up? That's me on a Saturday night. Trust me, I am trying my hardest. I really want you to have a good time. If you're cool when it takes me a minute to make your drink, that makes me want to come back to you."

How to stay on his good side:
"You are my boss. You pay me on performance. But, just like your boss at work, it is always inappropriate for you to: 1) touch me, 2) throw money or other items at me, 3) tell me to take off my shirt (I'm a bartender, not a stripper), 4) snap or wave your hand in my face, and 5) talk down to me. Hospitality is a two-way street. If you want me to respect you then show me respect right back."

"Also, and this is big, do not ask me if I have a 'real job.' I do. You're looking at it. I have a career and a future in a growing industry: the spirits/bar industry. I have a master's degree from a great school. I've had office jobs, but I choose to be behind the bar and I'm very happy about it."

Be honest: How often do you get hit on while you're working?
"Ha-ha-ha…are you hitting on me? Because that's usually the first thing someone asks when they do."
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Photographed by Grace Willis.
Ronnie Higgins: The Revel Room

What he's looking for in a woman:
"I work a lot, so availability is huge. When you work 10 or more hours a day and your days off are in the middle of the week, it makes time very valuable. So, meeting someone who's in tune with that is huge. Confidence is an important factor as well. Being able to be social and engage with others is a must because that's part of what I do. Also, the way that you carry and present yourself means a lot. I was always taught that 'you never know who you're going to run into.'"

Tips for getting better service at the bar:
"Don't EVER raise your hand. It's my biggest pet peeve, and it makes people look like they have zero class. Secondly, drink better products. You only live once — educate yourself and better your palate. Part of my gig is to teach you new things."

Style outside of work:
"My style outside of work is pretty simple. I like North American products that are durable and classic. Levi's and Reigning Champ out of Vancouver are some of my favorite articles due to timeless attire and perfect fit. They wear quite nice as well."

Be honest: How often do you get hit on while you're working?
"I don't get hit on as often as you would think. I'm pretty serious when I'm at work, which I think is a curveball to people who usually approach bartenders. And, to be honest, I'm not really looking for that at work, unless you're the right one…"
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Photographed by Grace Willis.
Juan Carlos Castañeda: The Boarding House

Favorite drink to make:
"I work with very creative and talented people. Dave Beirle, our lead bartender and head of the cocktail program at The Boarding House, just created one of my favorite cocktails to date. It's a sake-and-rye whiskey-based cocktail yet to be named. He uses yuzu and a chamomile lemon zest syrup to brighten up the flavor profile, adds an egg white for a nice textural note, and garnishes it with fresh flowers. It's a must-try cocktail."

Tip for getting better service at the bar:
"If you travel in packs on the weekend, your bartender is going to appreciate a complete order rather than one that is pieced together over minutes. At the end of the day, we want to get you a drink as quickly and efficiently as possible. Ordering your drinks at once will help us better serve all of our guests."

Be honest: How often do you get hit on while you're working?
"I'm not really sure. There are times when I think I'm getting vibed, but I'm too dumb to pick up on it. Women really have to lay it on thick or I'll totally miss it."
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Photographed by Grace Willis.
Thomas Mooneyham: The Gage

What he's looking for in a woman:
"She must appreciate a good pun and love cocktails and dreams."

Tip for getting better service at the bar:
"Patience is important. Know what you want."

How to stay on his good side:
"Don't snap your fingers, wave money, and yell, 'Hey bartender!'"

Be honest: How often do you get hit on while you're working?
"Only when I wear my bow tie made out of boyfriend material."
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Photographed by Grace Willis.
Adolfo Calderon: Public House

What he's looking for in a woman:
"Someone who is comfortable in their own skin. Ambition and honesty are definite eye-catchers."

Most popular drink he makes:
"The old-fashioned and Manhattan have both gained major steam lately, but I like adding my twists to the classics."

How to stay on his good side:
"Please don't wave money or credit cards. Throwing napkins/straws/fruit typically never works either. Whistling has become popular these days — absolute funny business."

Be honest: How often do you get hit on while you're working?
"You'll laugh, but I never pick up on it aside from the famous phone number on a napkin! My coworkers usually have to clue me in."
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Photographed by Grace Willis.
Patrick Smith: The Violet Hour

What he's looking for in a woman:
"Someone who can play an instrument well."

The most popular drink he makes:
"The 'El Topo' made with tequila, mezcal, lime, cucumber, strawberry, and house-made hot sauce which includes Sriracha."

Tip for getting better service at the bar:
"Bring your bartender food."

How to stay on his good side:
"Don't ask me what my favorite drink to make is. Rather, impress me by confidently ordering a Sazerac or a Negroni.

Be honest: How often do you get hit on while you're working?
"Not very often. We get a lot of dates at The Violet Hour, but not too many single ladies sitting at the bar. When I do get hit on, it's usually from girls visiting from out of town."
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Photographed by Grace Willis.
Matt Sussman: Table, Donkey, and Stick

Favorite drink to make:
"It's hard to beat a really good Sazerac."

How to stay on his good side:
"Don't ask me to choose a drink for you and then say you like all spirits equally, are open to any flavor profile, and really don't care what kind of drink it is."

Style outside of work:
"When I'm biking, raw denim and an old bomber jacket. For the right occasions, I have some beautiful tweed jackets."

Be honest: How often do you get hit on while you're working?
"Once in a while, but really not that often."
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Photographed by Grace Willis.
Josh Perlman: Avec

Favorite drink to make:
"I like to make classic daiquiris. They're simple-yet-balanced and when done well, it's a really great drink."

Tip for getting better service at the bar:
"As long as a guest is patient and polite, they'll always get service with a smile."

Style outside of work:
"I would say classic-yet-modern. I like jeans and button-downs or some variation of that."

Be honest: How often do you get hit on while you're working?
"I really don't get hit on too often. If I do, it's typically a woman who's 50-plus."
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