Every Sport, Industry and Professional group invariably honors its best. The Oscars, the Baseball Hall of Fame®, the Pulitzer Prize, the American Academy of Arts & Letters — these are all palpable expressions of the regard their honorees are held in by their professional colleagues of the value that is placed on their contributions.
In like manner, BARTENDER MAGAZINE, the Authority on Bartending and On-Premise, salutes the otherwise unsung men and women behind the bar who play so large a role in On-Premises atmosphere and conviviality. In everything from NEW YORKER cartoons to the old radio show, Duffy’s Tavern, from the plays of Eugene O-Neill to the stories of O’Henry, the Bartender is as much a cheerful philosopher of life itself as well as a key ingredient to any successful establishment’s ambiance.
And now, thanks to the BARTENDER “Hall of Fame”® some of our own industry’s leading dispensers of cheer and commentary are being given due recognition. The “Bartender Hall of Fame”® selections took a fair amount of deliberation. No effort was spared to locate honorees who not only pour with personality, but also by their own behind-the-bar demeanor convey both good taste and high professionalism.
The BARTENDER “Hall of Fame”® Inductees are indeed the very best representatives of our business, and each is an “all-star” in his or her own right. BARTENDER MAGAZINE is simply happy to be able to single them out, and to thereby have an opportunity to pay public notice to the very personability and talent that makes ours such a wonder business to be in. Even such a beloved member of the Baseball Hall of Fame® as Babe Ruth, for instance, was known to spend many of his own non-working hours in the company of our industry’s representatives. The BARTENDER “Hall of Fame®“® is an idea that is long, long overdue within our business, but we’re none the less very proud to be associated with it despite our tardiness.
Congratulations to all of the BARTENDER “Hall of Fame”® Inductees!
Current BARTENDER “Hall of Fame”® Inductees
Lamar “Dink” Mertz
Married: wife Lorraine, 43 years.
Children: Scott, Tracy and Debbie.
Dink Mertz began his career “behind the stick” shortly after leaving the Air Force in 1963. He and Lorraine traveled the country looking for work until one evening while dining with her and some friends Dink, then 26 years old, was offered the position as Manager at a restaurant called “The King’s Arms” in Rockland County, New York. It was there that he learned the life of Food and Beverage. He first started off as a dishwasher then moved to the kitchen then behind the bar to learn the business, it was then that it all started. Dink improved business so vastly that this is where he stayed.
On Dink’s first day behind the bar, Knobby moved to the other end and said “ call me if you need me”. It took 3 days for Dink to “get it”, and it was at that point that Knobby Armano became Dink’s mentor and soon everyone wanted to hang out with Knobby and Dink!
Three years later Dink and Lorraine moved to the Pocono Mountains in a town named West Hazleton, PA. Dink was working in the family owned “ Rossi’s” which was located in the center of town. All the town’s business happened there, whether it be arguments resolved, civil service jobs allocated, parties, weddings, whatever the occasion, it all happened there and Dink was right smack dab in the middle of it behind the bar. This was home for the Mertz’ for 17 years until Mrs. Mertz was transferred to Atlantic City as an Executive for “Quality Inns”. Dink had no problem finding a job at Dolley’s Lounge in the Madison Hotel where he worked for 4 years. Dink had formed such a great rapport with not only the guests that walked into the bar but also the other employees that worked with him that he persuaded the owners to build a smoky glass partition between the bar and the lobby. At the end of the month money was tight for the staff and they all came to Dink hungry and thirsty, tired and broke. Dink ordered pizzas for his customers and paid from his own pocket. After 4 years of working at Dolley’s; Mrs. Mertz was transferred to Baltimore. Dink found work at the Fish Market, which had 4 nightclubs and 2 restaurants and a grand stage all under 1 roof. He then moved to Harrisons Pier 5. Shortly after moving to Baltimore, Mrs. Mertz retired and both Dink and Lorraine moved to Sarasota, FL. Dink found work at Coasters Restaurant, a mom and pop restaurant which was not fairing well. Dink brought a new concept into this bar, fresh juices. He would come in hours before his shift to prep his bar. Soon after Dink started with Coasters, the bar was always full, and Coasters started profiting. Dink was living by his motto “the key to being a successful bartender is to keep the customers interested in you.”
It seemed that Dink had the Midas touch with the previous bars that he worked. He made the best of situations and people loved him for being himself, “a salt of the earth, one of a kind person.” There was still one place that Dink had yet to conquer…Las Vegas. Dink had tried numerous times to get a job in Las Vegas, but being a Union town, this makes it difficult for even the best bartenders. One day, Dink hit the jackpot!! One of the founders of the Bartenders Union found his way into Coasters where he met Dink. After a few phone calls, Dink landed a job at the Mirage Resort working at the Pool. For 3 years, Dink worked poolside running harder than he ever had; business was better than ever. He was an essential part of the opening team at the Bellagio. Today, you can find Dink at the award winning, Petrossian Bar and Lounge doing what he does best, making drinks and keeping people interested in
Albert Frederick Tromp
Radisson Aruba Beach Resort, Aruba, NA.
Always fascinated with the mixing of alcoholic concoctions, Albert has been involved in professional bartending for over 37 years. Albert started his career as a barback in 1970, at the Aruba Caribbean, and then worked for the Manchebo Beach Hotel, the Sheraton, and the Americana, where he served as Assistant Head Bartender for six years. Albert also ran his own restaurant for 2 1/2 years, but decided to return to the bartending life.
In 1982, while working at the Bushiri Beach Hotel, he also started serving as a bartender/practical instructor with the Aruba Hotel School, the official education program for bartenders in Aruba, to help and guide the future bartenders of the Island. In addition to serving actively in bartending activities around the world, he has always participated and/or helps coordinate the prestigious Aruban National Bartenders competition, after winning the title of Bartender of the Year award in 1982.
In 1986, he accepted the position of Head Bartender at the Golden Tulip Hotel, where he worked until 1992.
Albert joined the Radisson Aruba Resort & Casino in 1992, as Beverage Manager. Since starting at Radisson he has developed many unique lectures, presentations, wine-tasting and bartender’s competitions. His work has been recognized with the manager of Quarter Award given by the Management of Radisson Hotel.
In 1994, Albert was approached by the government adult teaching institution “Ensejanza pa Empleo” to develop material for bartending courses. He also participated as an instructor in these courses.
Albert was elected as President of the Aruba Bartenders Association in 1995, where he presided until 1999. He also served as President of the Latin American Bartenders Association from 1999 to 2001.
Throughout his entire career and professional achievements he always put his family first. He was blessed with a great family starting with his wife of over 28 years (working for the largest Labour Union Organization on the Island, his daughter (studying Micro Biology and Optometry a the UCF, Orlando, FL), his ten year old son, his godson (with a bachelor degree in Computer Science at ERAU, Daytona, FL) and his goddaughter (studying psychology in the Netherlands).
KAREN O’BRIEN 2015
Born in Florence, SC Karen spent summers at the beach. She is a graduate of U of SC, in Columbia. She started tending bar at Nibils the summer of 1984. From there Karen went to The Sand Bar as Partner, Operator and Bartender from 1987-2008. Toppers was the next stop as Partner & Bartender from 2008-2011. From 2012 to the present, Karen can be found at Calli Bakers Firehouse Bar & Grill.
Karen O’Brien has traveled the world, but calls Myrtle Beach, SC home. At each location the locals, snowbirds, tourists and natives have become Karen’s friends. The last six years tending bar have enabled her to escape the harsh reality of her continuous battle with cancer. She brags that her best friends have been met while tending bar. “Bartending is far from being just a job”.
“Bessie” is Karen’s little black book. It holds the information of the many patrons birthdays and anniversaries she has met throughout the years. This cherished book allows Karen to acknowledge the special occasions in addition to the Holidays for them all.
Karen enjoys travel, all sports and the beach. She has served her community through Camp Kemo for children, Camp Happy Days, Breast Cancer Awareness, and an Ambassador for Veterans to name a few. But more than anything – Karen loves being an Ambassador of Life!
BARTENDER® Magazine tips our cup to Karen O’Brien for her 31 years behind the bar. We’d like to thank her colleague Sherrill Meredith for taking the time to nominate Karen and helping us bestow this honor. We wish you good health Karen, with many more years doing the job you love. A ne edition to the BARTENDER indeed.
Owner, Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern,
Claiming to have been born on a pool table, Jimmy Cirrito began his career in the restaurant industry at the age of 15 washing dishes and bussing tables at his cousin’s inn south of Buffalo, NY. At 18 he relocated to L.A. and began bartending at a famous Italian restaurant named Miceli’s in Universal City, CA. At age 21 he moved again to the DC area and began bartending for the original Pargo’s restaurant, a chain that began in Manassas, VA. A year later he was hired as General Manager of a popular nightspot called KC’s where Jimmy learned that bartending, promoting, and fundraising went hand-in-hand. With that he went on to achieve numerous certificates, awards, and trophies for his on-going participation in area charitable contests and events.
In 1990, he was featured in Ripley’s Believe it or Not® for bartending 24 hours a day for 12 straight days in an effort to raise $12,000 for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. In 1994, Jimmy was crowned Washington DC’s Fastest Bartender in a contest in which over 80 bartenders competed to see who could make drinks the fastest and most accurately.
After 5 years at KC’s, Jimmy moved on to a handful of other bars and nightclubs, bartending, spinning records, and running countless promotions and contests. At the age of 30, Jimmy opened his own restaurant, Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern in Herndon, VA, where he still works today…10 years later! Since the beginning of his venture in this industry, Jimmy has helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for various charities, and has been hired to give seminars around the U.S. and Canada to share his secrets of success. His favorite fundraiser of all time is the Bartender’s Jump for charity, in which bartenders raise pledges and jump out of perfectly good airplanes; Jimmy has hosted this promotion twice with over 30 jumpers and over $17,000 in pledges to various charities.
Jimmy Cirrito has spent a lifetime tending bar and raising money for charities. Among the charities benefiting from Jimmy’s efforts are: Special Olympics, Multiple Sclerosis, H.E.R.O.S. (helps families of fire and police officers hurt in the line of duty), American Cancer Society, The Council for the Arts of Herndon, Save the Children, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, the Manassas and Virginia Jaycees, Herndon House (supports families of children with leukodystrophies), Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, coat drives for charity, and the Make A Wish Foundation.
He has shaved his head, jumped out of planes, was featured in Ripley’s Believe it or Not® for bartending and serving drinks for 12 straight days. He has been bartending for 22 years and is the proud owner of Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern since 1997. Jimmy is a great addition to the Bartender Hall of Fame®™.
Armando Rosario 2016
Born in Mozambique, East Africa, Armando Rosario graduated from Hotel Training School in Algarve, Portugal. He has spent 30 years of his life passionately pursuing the art of the crafted cocktail. Only by traveling across the globe, relentlessly seeking education and mastery did he earn the designation Master Mixologist. His “Make It Fresh and Keep It Simple” philosophy has been torture tested by winning cocktail competitions the world over, as well as, developing cocktails in the beverage
meccas of New York, and the mega casino resorts of Las Vegas, Nevada. Armando’s expertise has been highlighted extensively with features in national publications such as, The Wall Street Journal and The Tasting Panel.
Making his home in Orlando, Florida as Executive Director of Mixology for Southern Wine & Spirits, the largest wholesaler of wine, spirits, and non-alcoholic drinks in the world, Armando’s mantra now drives much of the powerhouse beverage programs at Disneyworld & Disneyland Parks, Universal Studios Orlando, Hard Rock Worldwide, Hyatt Hotels, Hilton Hotels, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, and Bahama Breeze to name a few. In addition to accreditations by Wine & Spirits Education Trust of London, USBG Master Accreditation levels 1 & 2, The Rum University 5 Day Rum Course, C.S.S. by Society of Wine Educators, Tequila Certified by C.R.T, Armando is the holder of a Cachaça Specialist Certification, which was given by World-Renowned Marcelo Câmara. Armando holds a BARSMARTS and BAR Ready certification additionally. Recently, Armando took Keep It Fresh to a broader audience and added author to his list of incredible accomplishments when he and fellow Master Mixologist and bar expert, Livio Lauro, cowrote “The Twelve Cocktails”. This is a completely new, simple and expandable cocktail training system which teaches the 12 essential cocktails you need to know to please any palate and how these 12 cocktails can easily evolve into many more classics with simple and sensible variations of a few ingredients.
BARTENDER® magazine tips our cup to Armando Rosario for his 30 years behind the bar. We’d like to thank his colleague Herman Fernandez for the nomination and Shannon Freeman from Southern Wine for her assistance. On a personal note, outside of his professional accomplishments, we know Armando is a gem! Every year without fail, he calls BARTENDER® Founder Ray Foley on his birthday. A fine addition to the BARTENDER “Hall of Fame”® indeed.