Have a seat at the bar
Photography by Chip Chockley
As the day comes to a close and happy hour approaches, I often ponder: Where can I get a really good craft cocktail and have an amazing experience? Do I want to laugh until I cry? Or just chill and soak up some vibes? Maybe I want to hear stories of days gone by or have such a deep conversation that it feels like I’ve known the person since college. My experience at a bar completely depends on the personality of the bartender and the amazing concoctions they can create. The bartenders below each come with a unique vibe and craft that will make each visit unlike any other. Whether you want to go out or to bring the party to you, you will not be disappointed by their magic!
Tyronica “Ty” Maben/SAGE
Tyronica “Ty” Maben is energetic and positive and has a smile that lights up a room. She has been bartending for nine years—and her love for her career shows. “I get to meet different people from different walks of life. And I love making people feel good,” she says.
When you visit SAGE, try Ty’s signature cocktail, The Beginner. It’s made with Hennessy, Cointreau, peach syrup, and lime juice. “I like to start everyone on The Beginner before moving them to the next level,” Ty explains. “I need to make sure they can handle our craft cocktails.”
When she’s not at Sage, you can find her behind the bar of InTyxicated (facebook.com/InTyxicated), her very own mobile bartending service. When it comes to bartending, Ty is the life of the party.
Juntao Booker/Bar Hustle
If you’re looking for a specific, curated vibe, head down to see Juntao Booker at Bar Hustle inside Arrive hotel. This artist and musician has been bartending for two years, and he has a knack for combining his love of music with bartending. “If you’re into ’90s R&B, you should try an All Spice Old Fashioned,” he says. “Trap music? Go for the Rattlesnake with Hennesy. Maybe you’re into a little bit of country? I would recommend Ranch Water. For my techno people, definitely vodka with cherry liqueur, Red Bull, and lemon.”
His favorite cocktail is a Mexican Firing Squad. Although this tasty treat is not on the menu, Bar Hustle is thoroughly stocked to make it and many other favorites. But I love his Benevolent Sunset. It’s made with bourbon or mezcal, pineapple juice, cherry liqueur, and ginger beer. I would recommend you sip on a Benevolent Sunset while enjoying a chill vibe during Juntao’s Sundown Sundays.
Charles Govan has been bartending for 21 years and prides himself on using the best ingredients. As the winner of the Choose901 Downtown Cocktail Competition, Charles knows a thing or two about mixing a good cocktail. “If you want a good cocktail, you gotta use fresh and homemade ingredients. None of that froufrou stuff,” he explains.
Charles drops a few more words of wisdom: “Have patience with it. You will have good and bad days. But whatever you do, make good, consistent drinks.”
But if he’s mixing for himself, what does Charles choose? He ends a rough day by relaxing at home with a little Uncle Nearest. If the day was easy, he might mix vodka with a little cranberry or pineapple juice. Be sure to stop by CIMAS and see Charles. And when you do, get his award-winning Smash It Mane, a bourbon-based cocktail made with all fresh ingredients. You will not be disappointed.
Eboné Payne is what you might call a generational bartender. Her Grandma Marsha was a bartender, and Eboné believes she gleaned from the best. “I’ve learned alot about bartending from my grandma,” she says. “She taught me that you’re not supposed to taste the alcohol in a really good drink.”
Although she has been in the food and beverage industry since she was 15 yrs old, she has been bartending for six years. “I genuinely love what I do. I’m a people-person, and bartending makes me so happy,” Eboné says.
She is also no stranger to public gatherings. Her cocktail concoction Peach Heat was featured in the Whiskey Warmer event. She also showcased her Lavender Sea Salt Margarita during Memphis Flyer’s Margarita Festival.
Eboné says the French 75—with its gin, Champagne, lemon, and sugar—is the cocktail that most characterizes her: “It starts off real refreshing and smooth, but has the ability to sneak up on you.”
“I don’t like to brag; I just let my mixing do the talking,” says Tim Dozier. And, yes, his concoctions can talk the talk and have you walking the walk. Tim has been bartending for 15 years, starting as a barback in New Haven, Connecticut.
“I learned a lot as a barback,” he says. “During my off time, I would help prep and pour drinks. I’ve worked at some bars that didn’t always have everything they needed. So I had to be creative and make something good for the customers. I had to make a lot from a little bit.”
When he moved down South, he landed on South Main in downtown Memphis. “I was a bartender at Onix, before it moved to Madison in Midtown [and later permanently closed]. That’s where I was really able to showcase my talent and find my groove.” With his skillset and aptitude for creativity, Tim soon began to gather followers. Many of his regular customers followed him to Mahogany.
If you’re new to Mahogany’s bar, Tim has a few recommendations for you. “People say that I make the best Green Tea Shot they have ever tasted. I just put a little twist on mine,” he says. “For the Strawberry Hennessy, I use fresh strawberries instead of using a strawberry syrup.” One of his signature drinks on the menu is The Tyler Perry, aka Georgia Peach. One sweet day, he was playing around with Peach Crown and wondered how it would taste mixed with Southern sweet tea and a splash of fresh lemon juice. “Divine!” he says. “All of the customers love it!”
At Mahogany, Tim makes sure the drink quality is equal to the food quality. “You gotta have a good drink to compliment the good food you are getting,” he says.
Patricia Lockhart is a native Memphian who loves to read, write, cook, and eat. Her days are filled with laughter with her four kids and charming husband. By day, she’s a school librarian and a writer, but by night—she’s asleep. @realworkwife
Chip Chockley, an attorney by day, has been a professional photographer since 2008. Things that make him happy include tacos, mai tais, and his wife and kids. @chipchockley