Meet The Tastemakers
The 6 best bartenders in Austin are worthy of the buzz
We hope you're already tipping your bartender extravagantly, but we still think they deserve a little more recognition. On top of employing all the creativity of a chef — finding great ingredients, balancing a menu, and executing a consistent product — these late-night heroes often have to entertain guests while they work.
Whether you appreciate a cocktail as a necessary, sensible part of a night out, or think it's all the more beautiful for its existence of total excess, these six bartenders remind us every Tastemaker Awards that excellence does not just happen on the plate. Our judges — last year's winners and some editorial staff — selected this crew based partly on their image as an individual, and partly on their influence on the industry. That's why this list is full of celebrated bars and perhaps shows the most overlap with other nominees of any category.
Here we celebrate these collaborators and trailblazers, and later they'll come together to find out who wins on May 11 at Fair Market for our annual Tastemaker Awards tasting event and awards ceremony. Tickets are on sale now.
Amanda Jones, Nickel City
Nickel City, one of our nominees for Bar of the Year, could appear in the dictionary under "neighborhood bar," if the dictionary had that sort of thing. And Amanda Jones would probably be in the photo. She has become a friendly, familiar face to many visitors over the years, and sometimes that's a lot more important than the drinks.
Caer Maiko Ferguson, DrinkWell
One Tastemaker Award in 2019 was not enough for Caer Maiko Ferguson — at least, not in our judges' eyes. From Péché to the Roosevelt Room, to her popup Daijoubu with fellow nominee Sharon Yeung, and many more, Ferguson's mark is all over the top bars in this city. DrinkWell, a current nominee, has been lucky to have its turn with her for almost three years, now.
Christopher Crow, Eden Cocktail Room
This bluesman and bartender knows that style is everything, and Eden Cocktail Room is proof. The candlelit speakeasy Christopher Crow founded off 5th Street in 2021 shows a true artist's touch in its semi-wacky decor and high standards. It's a natural next step from his time at Here Nor There, but the garden fantasy is palpable.
Erin Ashford, Olamaie
Erin Ashford spent seven years as bar manager, wine buyer, and assistant general manager at Restaurant of the Year nominee and former winner Olamaie. With all that practice, she's moved on to become the co-owner of brand-new cocktail bar Holiday with Rising Star nominee Peter Klein. It's a different venue but with Erin, it still feels like the same party — her favorite part of the job.
Nadia Hernandez, Watertrade
Watertrade, the Japanese-style cocktail bar at sushi restaurant Otoko, is beautiful enough to get away with stocking just a few high-end sakes, but bar manager Nadia Hernandez always keeps the menu fresh, divided artistically by season. While the menu tells one story, her pop-ups and public appearances often center on empowering women in the industry.
Sharon Yeung, Daijoubu Pop Up
Sharon Yeung's traveling bar, Daijoubu Pop Up (which she started with fellow nominee Caer Maiko Ferguson), makes her a little hard to pin down. Still, Austin is the charismatic cocktail maker's home no matter where the cocktail bus goes, and it's her Asian upbringing that really makes her contributions stand out for five consecutive Tastemaker nominations, including this one.