We’ve been on a mission to find the city’s best bartender—the one who can mix a perfect cocktail, give better-than-a-shrink advice and always make you feel at home. And since nobody knows the city’s drink slingers better than our readers, we left it up to you. You nominated your favorites from all five boroughs and then narrowed down the pool from 100 to 50, then the final 10. Finally, after weeks of voting that saw over 193,000 votes cast, we’re crowning our winner: Anthony LoPorto of the Bean Post Pub in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
You trounced the competition! Why do you think that is?
That’s Bay Ridge. My stance was that a vote for me was a vote for Bay Ridge. People kept saying, ‘We voted, we shared it.’ A stranger even came up to my mom at a local church to talk about it. I’m starting to realize more and more people supported us.
How did you first find out about the competition?
I found out when I made the top 100! My wife was the one who nominated me. She had this smirk on her face, and finally she told me she’d put me in the contest.
What do you think makes a good bartender?
A bartender is not someone who can make 1,000 drinks. A bartender is someone who can connect with everyone. I feel like a bar is like a small town, and the bartender becomes the mayor of the town. A bartender has to be able to listen to a story, answer a phone, know the score of the game, lower the music, pour a drink and watch that guy in the corner who may not be the type of guy you want in your place. There are so many hats a bartender wears.
So what makes you the best?
I guess because of my philosophy of being there for everyone, listening to everyone and being everyone’s friend. But I think I’m the best because I have the best crowd. They support me and watch out for me. I’ve had people saying, "My mother is sitting on her couch voting over and over for you," or "I have carpal tunnel from voting for you!"
You became the owner of the Bean Post Pub in 2002. How is that different from just being a bartender there?
When you’re behind that bar, you need to be a bartender. If you bartend as an owner, you won’t be successful. Sometimes friends introduce me as the owner, and I say no, right now I’m the bartender. I don’t want people thinking I’m trying to make more money off of them, so I take the owner hat off and leave it at the front door. A bartender’s a lot more fun than being an owner anyway, I’d hate to give that part up.
Is it true you guys serve 40 flavors of wings? Which are your favorites?
Forty flavors. We get together, go across the street to the supermarket, and buy every possible flavor and spice. Then we mix them up and taste to see what works. I like the Atomic Asian Sesame, which has sriracha, ginger, sesame and soy. And the other is called Bean Post Bayou—it’s a Louisiana bayou wing.
Do you really give out advice like bartenders in the movies?
I never ask—I don’t want to pry. I just wait and listen. I always try to give advice from the heart, and I follow up by giving my cell phone number and saying you can call me anytime. And people have made that call.
What’s the most unexpected thing about being a bartender that people don’t understand?
It’s a real job, and people don’t realize that. People think it’s all fun and games and laughing and singing, but you have to be on. It’s still probably one of the best jobs in the world, though I wouldn’t mind playing center field for the Yankees. But sometimes people say, "What’s your real job?" and I say, "No, my real job is bartending."
Visit the Bean Post (7525 Fifth Ave, Brooklyn) Fri 8–Sun 10, and get two drinks for the price of one when you show this page or LoPorto's interview in the magazine. And see LoPorto sling drinks on Watch What Happens Live Mon 11 at 11pm on Bravo.