The clinking of glass-a sound as refined as Southern gentry, defiant as 1920's prohibition and as welcome as a family toast. It's the clamor of cocktails that brings people to the local watering hole, second only to the personality behind the bar.
That's because bartending isn't as simple as, well, simple syrup, and careful mixologists have a knack for fashioning distilled liquids and a penchant for engaging conversation. This is why Chatter raised a glass with some of the Scenic City's most impressive bartenders who hear, see and sip it all. What they have to share is a veritable cocktail of experiences. Add one part celebration with two parts advice and just a dash of VIP to concoct an unforgettable evening-shaken or stirred.
Name: Ashley Morgan ' Title: Main Bartender
Every day is different for Ashley Morgan, a nocturnal spirit who welcomes the fast pace accredited to the bartending lifestyle. A way of life that welcomes spontaneous celebrity drop-ins like the time "Twilight" heartthrob Robert Pattinson came by to unwind with his film crew, closing down her chic bar. "Some people couldn't talk to him because they were so intimidated, but not me," Morgan shares with delight. "He was incredibly nice, and I'll never forget his order of Amstel Light and Macallan."
Perhaps the only challenge for this levelheaded bar-gal is to keep up with everything, stemming from an ambitious desire to stay ahead of the trends. Since the menu is based on a seasonal rotation of fruits and vegetables, the bar is constantly reinventing the martini with new ingredients (like the chefmade tomato-infused vodka), which is a perfect match for Morgan who loves the ever-progressing nature of the spirits industry and, therefore, her life.
Name: Tripp Lichtefeld ' Title: Bar Manager
It's all about personal connections for Tripp Lichtefeld, Fairyland Club's bar manager, who relishes the opportunity to connect with patrons and dubs the experience "magic." "Some nights, when the moment is right and the stars have aligned, everyone enjoys an amazing time," Lichtefeld says, his voice laced with excitement.
It's the classic snowball situation. Couples show up, invite their friends and before long there's a huge party teeming with energy. And while the demographic at the Fairyland Club bar is mostly comprised of families and club members, Lichtefeld has been privileged to serve royalty- Princess Leah, in fact. Star Wars' famed Carrie Fisher- who ordered a Diet Coke-stopped by late night as a sweet surprise, which Lichtefeld says is just part of the perks.
For this lively bartender, giving advice from his majestic Lookout Mountain locale varies as widely as the menu. "One piece of advice doesn't work for everyone," Lichtefeld says, explaining that advice must be relevant to each person. "What strikes me most is it's amazing how people can overcome incredible obstacles and have amazing lives."
Name: Jessica Castroverde ' Title: Bar Manager
She's one of the girls that seems to have it all figured out, so Jessica Castroverde attracts a lot of attention. "Being a bartender is like being on stage," she explains. Which is true, considering her appointment as bar manager of The Foundry within The Chattanoogan Hotel-a place familiar with large groups, receptions, out-of-towners, musicians and celebrities.
Yet Castroverde doesn't get lost in a crowd; she keeps it in check. Want to get her attention despite the bar mob? Don't wave money around and shout. "Bartenders really hate it when people do that," Castroverde explains with a sweet tone. "You catch more flies with honey. Just be nice and say something like 'Hey, when you get a chance, I'd like...'"
This sophisticated service-industry enthusiast loves to receive pointers from her beloved clients as well. A memorable nugget of advice came from a gentleman celebrating 40 years of marriage. "He told me, 'It's a partnership, but she's always right,'" Castroverde says with a charming giggle. "I just love that!"
Name: Kourtney Hedden-Kaehuaea ' Title: Patio bartender
Kourtney Hedden-Kaehuaea hasn't had a weekend off in five years. "I miss a lot of boat trips," she says, laughing. But that doesn't deter this 23-year-old Hawaiian beauty who exhibits nothing less than zeal for life behind her Margaritaville-inspired bar. Her famous nickname, "The Flyin' Hawaiian," can be attributed to this and her spunky enthusiasm.
Perhaps the most shocking aspect of Hedden-Kaehuaea's wild life is the last thing you'd expect: she has never had a drop of alcohol in her life. "It's true," she affirms confidently. "The best advice I've been given is not to start drinking. And now I am known as the crazy, wild, outgoing bartender that has never had a drink."
But unlike a sweet-toothed diabetic working in a candy store, she has no interest in ingesting her delicious wares. Nonetheless, it doesn't slow down this sober siren who has partied with the likes of Johnny Knoxville, DJ Silver and even Hugh Hefner.
Name: Jennifer Summers ' Title: Bar Manager
Coming to work is like going out for Jennifer Summers, a nine-year bartending veteran with a bubbly disposition and a taste for the good life. "I love this; you get to share a good time with great people, and it makes my job easy,"she says.
Sure, sometimes things get a little wild, like the time a group of 60-year-old women partied like rock stars and flirted like school girls at a birthday party. But nothing too crazy for comfort, Summers relays, appreciating the notion that one's never too old to have fun.
Most customers, however, just want to befriend this charming Chattanoogan. One such regular bestowed some crucial words of wisdom to Summers: stay in school. And so, she did. You could say her greatest strength lies in communication-as she now proudly holds a degree in the subject from UTC-and applies her expertise wisely by mixing up engrossing conversation to garnish off those famous Bacon Manhattans at this urban hotspot.
Name: Noah Oliver, Jr. ' Title: Legendary Bartender
There may be another bartender as experienced as Noah Oliver, and if you find him, let us know. For nearly 50 years, Oliver has been armed with highball glasses and ice at the Mountain City Club, and within this half-century span, he's reached icon status in bartending circles.
Turning 84 in September, this bar-service paragon bore witness to the best of times, the worst of times and all the bottle trends in between. As a testament to his commitment, Oliver even slept in the club one wintry night, and the next morning simply shoveled the snow and served breakfast to members. With this dedication, it comes as no surprise that he's had the opportunity to pour glasses for an astounding percentage of bigwigs, notables and even former President Jimmy Carter.
Between his calm demeanor and firewater wares, Oliver has seen and heard it all. What scandals, rumors and stories could he reveal? Well, a gentleman certainly doesn't tell. "Never repeat what you hear said," Oliver says-advice he was given by a customer and took to heart. Resolute and discrete, this man values diplomacy, a somewhat lost art form in the changing fortunes of time.
What draws him to his long-standing position is a Camelot-esque sensibility that a bar creates a modern-day round table. "Everybody is treated equal," he explains, which is what he loves most about his trade. Around the smooth wood of the club bar, the young and elderly, powerful and ineffective, lavish and modest come together to share the sprits of the age.
Oliver's composure reminds us all of a time gone by. Like the legendary drink that has become a fixture on bar menus, there's just something soulful about a classic like an Old Fashioned.