As a group, our society loves getting together. There’s something about meeting up and the idea of a third space that really speaks to us. It fulfills some primal need to convene, share stories, and dink glassware in cheers to hump day, the weekend, or any other thing we can conceivably find reason to celebrate. It doesn’t take much.
When our Creative Director, Mathr, isn’t in the trenches, writing, designing, or answering emails, he’s daydreaming of ways to take a new project to the next level. That doesn’t always happen on the job or even during the 9 to 5 of a normal work day. That’s where the third space comes in. Whether to catch up with friends or catch up on work, Mathr sees the bar as much more than a watering hole. It’s a place to share stories. It’s an impromptu conference room. It’s an incubator for hatching new ideas. It’s where life continues when the day is far from done and where the true meaning of “after hours” takes shape.
His love for great hospitality stems from his need to entertain. Over the years he’s developed a fine appreciation for how it feels to be a guest in someone’s else’s space, but this only fuels his passion for entertaining all the more.
He says it’s because the level of hospitality you get at your favorite bar reminds you that you matter. That a good bartender can make you feel welcome… like you’re their favorite customer.
I strive to give people that experience. To make them feel special. Seeing their faces light up when you bring ingredients together right in front of them and slide the glass across the bar is everything. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to be magical… and all for them.
The perfect cocktail is all about how it makes you feel, whatever mood you’re in at the time. If the way that drink comes together… either what’s in the glass, how it’s prepared, or even who prepares it… if it takes you to another place, then it’s just right. It tugs at your imagination and your taste buds. It’s an escape to somewhere else, if only for a few moments.
FIRST STOP: EUREKA! | DRINK: PENICILLIN
There are new spots popping up all the time in Fresno, but my standbys make the cut due to convenience and consistency. If you’re trying to bar hop in Fresno and want to make the miles count, my recommendation is to start at Palm/Nees. Not only does Eureka Burger have one of the better whiskey selections in town, their bartenders pour everything to spec (i.e. measuring everything as opposed to free-pouring). Just don’t try to go off menu here and you’ll be fine. Save your bartender’s choice for the next spot.
SECOND STOP: CRACKED PEPPER | DRINK: FOGCUTTER
Cracked Pepper’s GM, Carlos Moran is a seasoned bartender who spent time in New York and Los Angeles - arguably two capitals of the cocktail industry. He compliments the Bistro’s classic sensibility with an ounce of fun and a dash of handsome to go with it. Expect to find some classic tiki offerings, great scotches, and maybe even a blended drink or two on the menu. Enjoying a round or two at Eureka first should put you at Cracked right after the dinner rush, which means a seat at the bar is yours for the taking.
THIRD STOP: THE LIME LITE | DRINK: WHISKEY SOUR
Your last stop of the night is an oldie but a goodie. Lime Lite on Shaw near Fig Garden Village is not what I would call the trendiest of locations… but what it lacks in hip aesthetic, it makes up for with old school charm. The main bartender, Corey, is a true gentleman who cares about his patrons and it shows. Not only will he likely remember your call, he will gladly attempt anything you can think of if he can find ingredients for it behind the bar.
BONUS: GARDEN COCKTAILS | DEALER'S CHOICE
But that’s not the only reason to stop by. If you happen to be out on a Thursday or Friday, you’re in for a treat. Step out onto the newly remodeled patio and you’ll come face to face with the one and only Luke Fisher. Luke is a veteran of the Los Angeles scene as has returned with a roar to the Fresno area, bringing with him his penchant for produce and the oddly infused. Garden Cocktails calls the patio at Lime Lite home and this two-for-one deal is not to be missed.