1627 W. Main St.
Second Place: Sean Rapoza (Balliceaux)
Third Place: Thomas "T" Leggett (the Roosevelt)
There's a new head honcho in the craft cocktail kingdom. Enter last year's runner-up, Mattias Hägglund, for the victory! This man knows his drinks, folks. We're talking a wealth of knowledge far beyond the myriad uses of bitters and brandied cherries. While you sip the likes of a tangy Mississippi mule or an apple julep, he can tell you all about the world's first cocktail book published in 1862, the curious tradition of drowning vipers in unaged brandy to create an invigorating libation, and a little-known ingredient called ambergris. "There's no way to put it delicately. It's goo shot out of a whale's blowhole," he says. While he acknowledges that it might be entertaining to use the sea-drenched substance, he isn't a sensationalist. "I don't think using weird items for the sake of weirdness is that important. If you can make something delicious, then do it. But people will only come out for that sort of thing once." Hägglund opened Heritage in the last year with his sister, Emilia, and her husband, chef Joe Sparatta. When it came to developing his drink list, Hägglund included a mix of classic cocktails, modern interpretations of old recipes and unique creations. It seems to work. His concoctions have been blessed by New York Magazine and devout local imbibers. "Cocktails should be fun," Hägglund says. Voters also appreciate the elixir wizardy of the congenial Sean Rapoza, whose sexy classics and creative cocktails certainly contribute to Balliceux's best overall bar victory. And Roosevelt's beard behind the bar, Thomas "T" Leggett, serves up such Southern knockouts as the Danville rattlesnake, the graybeard (made with Tennessee sorghum) and the Beauxregard.
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