Best New Bartender

This past March, we hosted a KCRW Good Food/OC Weekly Happy Hour at Memphis At the Santora featuring OC bartender royalty: Ricky Yarnall, Gabrielle Dion, Jason Schiffer, Matt Robold and Felicia Chavez. While the members of the Orange County Bartenders Cabinet were busy slinging free samples of their signature sauces, Jefferson Van Billiard held down the main bar, dishing out more $5 Old-Fashioneds than Memphis had rocks glasses. Now, he can be seen working the bar six days a week, serving his own limited-edition cocktails with the swagger of a veteran barkeep—except he's only kept his bar for slightly longer than half a year. When you ask Van Billiard to make you a drink, his choice, you never know what you're going to get. It might be his baked-apple Old-Fashioned, his whiskey buck, or his custom-made mango-habanero infusion. Or it might be one of dozens or hundreds (we've honestly lost count) of cocktails he has concocted during the past eight months or so. What you do know, though, is it's going to be good—and you'll be ordering more.


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