Best Bars 2016

The Houston Bartender Hall of Fame

Five of the Bayou City's most legendary bartenders on their specialty drinks, favorite stories and 75th birthday celebrations.

By Steven Devadanam February 1, 2016 Published in the February 2016 issue of Houstonia Magazine

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Alice Ward

Alice Ward
Alice’s Tall Texan Drive Inn

Year started: 1984
Bar tradition: “We always have regulars celebrating birthdays in here. We decorate their tables and the place real nice for them.”
Specialty drink: Lone Star, in an 18-ounce goblet
Cherished memory: “My kids threw my 75th birthday here. I had family and friends come in from out of town. They filled the place with pictures of me. I thought we’d have my birthday at a hall, but it wouldn’t be me if it wasn’t here at the Tall Texan.”

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Sunny West

Sunny West
Sunny's Bar

Year started: 2010
Bar tradition: The decidedly un-P.C. “Ray Charles.” Customers throw three pieces of ice at the bar with their eyes closed. Whichever liquor bottles are hit determines the shot’s ingredients.
Specialty drink: $1 Jell-O shots; Sunny says she sells more than a 1,000 a week.
Favorite story: Last year’s pre-Pride party: “A friend basically announced we were having one on Facebook. I was like, ‘Um, okay.’ We were full of partiers and drag queens. We made as much in one day as we do in a week.”

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Patrick "PJ" Mastro

Patrick Mastro
PJ’s Sports Bar

Year started: 1994
Bar tradition: “We do stockings for Christmas every year for the regulars. We get some interesting trinkets: candy, lottery tickets, condoms, Viagra pills.”
Specialty drink: Cinnamon Toast Crunch (made with Rumchata and Fireball) for the ladies; Bulleit Bourbon for the guys
Memory lane: “I had to shave my head during the ’95 Rockets NBA Finals. I bet a friend that they wouldn’t sweep. Then [Orlando Magic guard] Nick Anderson missed those two free throws—cost me my hair. Everyone at the bar took a turn shaving my head.”

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Asa Hanrahan

Asa Hanrahan
Flying Saucer Draught Emporium

Year started: 2007
Bar tradition: The storewide Plate Toast, a celebration for a customer who officially drinks 200 different beers at a Flying Saucer location. One Sugar Land patron has hoisted 20 plates in just five years.
Specialty drink: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. “It hasn’t lost its cool in 20-plus years.”
Pet peeve: Local-only trendsters. “The Belgians have been brewing beer for hundreds of years. It’s funny to me when someone turns their nose up at a good Belgian ale for something that was brewed in someone’s garage, just because it’s local.”

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Rose Pavlicek

Rose Pavlicek
The Rose Garden

Year started: 1991
Bar tradition: “Our chili cook-off, which we hold every year in February. We get a ton of people for that, and we give out awards. And my jukebox: every song on it is still 25 cents.” Snacks are set out nightly (see left).
Specialty drink: Miller Lite
Bar trivia: “They filmed a movie in here, and they were shooting up everybody: the bartender, the boy, the girl, everybody! There was fake blood on the ceiling forever. They ended up calling it The Rose Garden.”

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