Best Bartender

Cori Hamilton

A bartender for nearly 20 years, Cori Hamilton first started at Monet's Garden, a popular bar that she launched in the '90s.

"It was originally a way to pay my way through school," she explains. "Then I realized the schedule, co-workers, creating cocktails and friends that I make in this business are exactly what I need in my life, and I love them and it."

That has kept Hamilton in the business—and, in 2009, she opened the popular downtown Velvet, a bar that both exudes urbane cool and rustic charm, a mix that draws from her personality as both the owner and popular bartender.

"I think the key to being a memorable bartender," she explains, "is mostly to make friends with your customers, and get to know them. To remember their name and their favorite cocktail when they walk in the door. I hang out with my customers on a daily basis and they become a part of my life," she says, joyfully adding, "which I enjoy." (JR)

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