As regular readers know, I like to have fun. I especially like to have fun and explore the bar scene here in Newton.
This is a great way to meet people here in town, discover great information and witness some pretty cool moments.
For example, during Thursday Night NFL games, Newton Raceway Café has $1 draws on Budweiser and Miller brand beers. So not only can you get great food there, but you can now get cheap beer as well. This is pretty awesome.
Also, on any giving night you can hear 16-year-old super waitress/singer Dani Heikkila blow the roof off the place. Dani’s a pretty interesting person to chat with and her vocal range is incredible.
She can sing multiple genres of music with ease and prides herself on this ability.
Another cool thing I witnessed took place at the American Legion. I saw my friend Andrea Shepard get engaged on her birthday and bawl like a baby. It was great seeing such a special moment for such a caring person and as a bonus, Paul Davis’ acoustic band Level B Road was playing.
Cool moments aside, the point of this week’s “Take” is my power ranking of the top five bartenders in Newton. I got the idea from Dustin Turner’s power ranking column a few months back.
So let the fun begin.
My number one barteneder is Gina from the Scoreboard Bar and Grill. Seriously, with the way I love the ’Board was there any doubt my number one would come from that establishment? Like the place she works in, Gina is my favorite!
Besides her very accurate assessment of herself as “the hot blonde,” Gina is very attentive to her customers’ needs and always has an open ear. I can’t tell you how many times she and I just have conversations about life and neither of us judge each other. We just listen, assess and offer advice.
Gina also has a great sense of humor and will do whatever it takes to make sure everyone at the ’Board is having a great time. Those are just handful of the reasons why she is my number one bartender in Newton.
Number two on this list could’ve just as easily been my number one, except he isn’t a hot blond. I’m talking about the drink master himself: Jace from The Manhattan.
Jace can and will make you any drink you demand with no problem. I once saw him make a Straw-ber-rita from scratch and have it taste just like the stuff from the can. Not any barkeep is capable of that. In addition to his incredible mixing skills, Jace spent seven years developing his own signature drink.
The name of this drink can’t be said in the paper, but it contains six liquors, looks like pink lemonade and has a taste words can’t do justice. Jace is also very much a people person and handles a crowd like nobody’s business and is the ultimate wingman behind the bar.
My number three is another timeless beauty, who also has the best decorated bar in town, and that’s Kim from The Speakeasy. Kim always has a smile on her face and doesn’t just want her patrons to have a good time — she has one with them.
The Speakeasy recently did some remodeling and the new look elevated the already high standards the bar set for the others in town in terms of look and Kim was the spark behind that.
I also really admire Kim’s support of live music in Newton. I’ve seen Izzy Dunfore twice there, Damon Dotson once and a few blues acts. The dim lighting, classic black and white photos, and having a smiling woman who is pouring you a drink creates the perfect atmosphere to listen to music, especially the blues. Checkout JJ Express there this Friday and tell me that I’m wrong.
For some reason I don’t get my number four as my bartender as much anymore, but I have to go with Libbie from the Scoreboard. I love me some Libbie. She’s the pint-sized Oklahoma native who dishes out a mean rendition of “Black Velvet” when given a chance.
Libbie is also the treasurer/spokesperson for Thunder Nites and she can hit you with some pretty awesome quotes just as quickly as she can brag about her Sooners or her love of Kevin Durant.
Number five is hard to narrow down, but I have to go back to the ’Board and give it to the one and the only Big Mike. Big Mike is one of the coolest guys you will meet in town. He can make up some pretty weird mixed drinks at times, but he is always a great person to talk with.
Big Mike recently lost his mom to cancer and he I had a heart to heart discussion on that situation, which got very real for both of us. That day right there solidified to me just how great of a person Big Mike is and what kind of character he has.
So those are my top five in Newton. There are a ton of honorable mentions and so many people who do a great job of serving their patrons, but I can only fit so many names and background information in one column.
I highly recommend any of the places I mentioned in this column for a good time and great service.