Red Eye Chicago

STILL SHAKIN’

We check in with past Metromix Best Bartenders—while you get ready to pick the next one

- By Karen Budell

Sure, you tip your bartenders. But when’s the last time you really let them know how much you appreciate their well crafted cocktails? Their friendly banter? Or their smile of recognitio­n when you slide onto your regular stool?

Now’s your chance to repay the favorite mixologist in your life. Go to to nominate your

metromix.com best barkeep for our fourth annual Metromix Best Bartender competitio­n. But before you do, meet the drink slingers who won the top spot at our previous showdowns.

Johnny ‘Cocktail’ Vithoulkas, 33

BEST BARTENDER 2006, FROM SPY BAR

J o h n n y Cocktail wowed the crowd with a bartending bag of tricks that included a secretreci­pe shot, cymbals, a confetti canon, sirens and more. He’s still so proud of his victory that you can find his engraved martini shaker trophy behind his bar—and a new “Chicago #1 Johnny Cocktail” tattoo on his bicep. Catch him Mondays at (308 W.

Buzz Erie St. 312-475-9800), industry night Tuesdays at (151 W. Ohio St. 312-

Ruby 832-1436), and Thursdays through Saturdays at (646 N. Franklin St.

Spy Bar 312-587-8779).

Stephanie Rabiola, 31

BEST BARTENDER 2005, FROM EXCALIBUR/VISION

“ I’m pretty much working seven days a week, but it’s all stuff I really like to do,” Rabiola says. In addition to her shifts behind the bar, she’s got her own production company, Reel Bronze, and is holding fundraiser­s for independen­t filmmakers. She also recently launched a Web site to sell acrylic shoe organizers and other pieces of furniture she designs. Did we mention she still does those fancy bar tricks a la Tom Cruise in “Cocktail”? Catch her Fridays at (632 N.

Excalibur Dearborn St. 312-266-1944) and Saturdays at the skybox bar at (632 N.

Vision Dearborn St. 312-266-3333).

Chad Johnson, 30

BEST BARTENDER 2004, FROM BUNGALOW LOUNGE

After ownership of Bungalow changed hands last year, Johnson left and did a nearly nine-month stint at Debonair Social Club. He took the summer off to travel, and now he says he’s looking for a new job.

Between bartending gigs, this good ol’ boy from Kentucky has been traveling to Costa Rica, South Carolina and even his grandma’s farm in Georgia to rustle up some cows. But he won’t be trading cocktails for chaps anytime soon. He’s ready to dust off his shaker and get behind a bar. “I just want to get in there and make drinks,” he says.

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Johnny “Cocktail” Vithoulkas serves his signature shot at the 2006 Best Bartender bash at
Funky Buddha Lounge.
JOHNNY BE GOOD Metromix Best Bartender 2006 Johnny “Cocktail” Vithoulkas serves his signature shot at the 2006 Best Bartender bash at Funky Buddha Lounge.
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