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Rochester’s Best Bartenders share their secrets

Inside info—like best customer stories and the drinks you should really be ordering—from your six favorite Rochester bartenders (from our Best Restaurants voting).

Female bartender hand squeezes juice from fresh grapefruit in cocktail lemonade with ice and rosemary.
Cocktail lemonade.
nikkimeel/Getty Images/iStockphoto
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Corbin Holmen

Bleu Duck Kitchen

Bleu Duck bartender Corbin Holmen
Bleu Duck bartender Corbin Holmen on Wednesday, March 23, 2022, in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

Years bartending: 5 (1 at Bleu Duck)

Favorite drink to make: ”Whatever the guest likes the most.”

Favorite drink to drink: ”Currently, it’s a Last Word (a classic cocktail made with gin, green Chartreuse, Luxardo maraschino, and lime juice).”

Memorable behind-the-bar story: ”One that I’ll never forget is when I first started bartending at Newt’s. A guest would come in whose wife was in the hospital, so he was staying in a nearby hotel for 6 to 9 months. He would come in every night to get his mind off things, and it was a cool relationship to build—to be the person who helps him take his mind off things.”


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Kasey Klemp

The Tap House West End

Business Photography by Olive Juice Studios in Rochester MN
Kasey Klemp
Scott Schoeberl / olivejuicestudios.com

Years bartending: 10 (2-1/2 at Tap House).

Favorite drink to make: ”Old Fashioned.”

Favorite drink to drink: “A good sour beer.”

Memorable behind-the-bar story: “My last year at the Tap House, I was able to work alongside two of my best friends who were bartending with me. I already loved my job, but having my friends with me made it even more enjoyable.”


Josh Kral

Bitter & Pour

Bitter and Pour - Josh Kral
Josh Kral of Bitter & Pour.
Post Bulletin file photo

Years bartending: 17 (3+ years at Bitter & Pour)

Favorite drink to make: “The next one. I’m always looking for the next new and exciting creation. I like playing with things I’ve never seen before, like a new fruit or herb or spice. The less I know about it, the more interested I am.”

Favorite drink to drink: ”If I had a gun to my head and had to choose a drink I had to drink for the rest of my life, it’d be a negroni—a classic, gin-based cocktail.”

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Memorable behind-the-bar story: “Bartending in this city for as long as I have, you just never know who is going to walk up on the other side of the bar. There’s been a lot of celebrities—kings and queens, Sean Connery, Tom Brokaw, some Vikings legends. It’s always cool seeing people like that.”


Jade Brady

Purple Goat

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Jade Brady, center, bar manager at the Purple Goat, works on the drink menu with staff Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021, at the Purple Goat in Rochester. The bar and restaurant plans to open next week. Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

Years bartending: 10 (nearly 1 year at Purple Goat)

Favorite drink to make: “Old Fashioned.”

Favorite drink to drink: “I like spicy margaritas. I’ll make them with jalapeños or serranos.”

Memorable behind-the-bar story: “When I was working in the Cities, I served a couple of Vikings football players. But it’s the friendships that are most memorable. I started bartending for Creative Cuisine, at Newt’s, 10 years ago—and my coworkers have ended up being my best friends to this day.”


Andrew Ferguson

Bitter & Pour

Years bartending: 23 (3+ years at Bitter & Pour, where he is one of the owners)

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Andrew Ferguson of Bitter and Pour.
Ken Klotzbach / Image Conscious Photography

Favorite drink to make: “Any drink that makes the
guest happy.”

Favorite drink to drink: ”I’m a bourbon guy, but I’ve really been digging into mezcal drinks lately.”

Memorable behind-the-bar story: ”For the longest time I always worked Thanksgiving so everyone else didn’t have to. It got to be known by customers that every Thanksgiving, I’d be at the bar. One year, I had nine plates of food brought to me. I ran out of cooler space room because I couldn’t eat it all.”


Jess Sorensen

Eagles Club

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Jessica Sorensen of the Eagles Club.
Ken Klotzbach / Image Conscious Photography

Years bartending: 17 (12 years at the Eagles Club)

Favorite drink to make: “We’re such a beer and mixed drink place, but I do appreciate making a good Old Fashioned.”

Favorite drink to drink: “I’m a Michelob Ultra-with-a-lemon girl. I learned that back in the day from the Break Room girls (which was where Pappy’s is now.)”

Memorable behind-the-bar story: “We had the Eagles State Convention in 2014, and a lady wrote a note and left it for me after the convention. She wrote, ‘I am 72 years old and you’re the best bartender I’ve ever seen in my life.’ I don’t know who it was from, because people came from all over the state, but I still have it. And, oh my gosh, it means a lot.”

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