My name is Dante Wheat, and I’m a bartender.
If you live in/have visited Louisville and love to imbibe, then you’ve run into me. I’ve worked at a handful of different bars around the city such as (the humble brag is strong with this one) Butchertown Grocery, Garage Bar, 8up, Butchertown Social, & Michter’s. Don’t remember me? I can’t say I’m not offended, but let me jog your memory.
I’m the one who made your drinks with resting stale face (FYI – that’s the type of emotionless expression that only comes from years of being a victim of my own decisions). Still don’t remember me? I am the guy behind the bar who made dark jokes, that while were very true, made you nervous laugh and close out a drink early (you’re welcome by the way; you didn’t need that extra drink anyways). Still don’t remember me? I was the black guy behind the bar (still black just in case you were curious).
Now that we are acquainted, let’s bring you up to speed on me (typical bartender I know… always talking about themselves). I’m a local drink slinger, but I have a national footprint due to my ability to create unique cocktails (my homie in advertising told me to put this flex here). Over the past 4 years I have accomplished many things – for example: I’ve won cocktail competitions, curated cocktail menus for James Beard House Dinners two different times, styled drinks for major brands, and traveled the country being a brand ambassador for brands including Copper & Kings. I’ve managed to make a career out of putting liquid in glasses, which is one heck of finesse if you ask me (which is hilarious to me considering the main reason I got into this industry in the first place was because I had a set of humans on the way and hated waking up early).
Like I mentioned earlier, I can make a damn good drink but If you ask me, that is a very subjective skill. I can make the most complex drink in the world with flavors that remind you of a cold summer night in 2009, but Ron from down the street will turn it down for a cold Bud and a shot of whiskey yesterday (…honestly, I am Ron). But what I am really passionate about is bar culture.
Bars are the heartbeat of a street, neighborhood or city. New to a city and want to get an honest feel for it? Go to a bar. Bars provide a snapshot of a population. You encounter every type of person in a short period of time; from the doctor who drives a car he can’t pronounce and pays with a credit card heavier than the weight of his crippling depression to the guy off the street in yesterday’s clothes paying for his $3 beer with change he dumped out of his pack of cigarettes. You see them all and with these continuous interactions you can’t help but pick up valuable lessons on all aspects of this thing we call life.
That’s what sparked this. Beyond the Bar will be a new series by yours truly. It’s a new adventure of mine; the next step in my bartending career. I want to use this as an outlet for education and growth. Not just for me, but I want it to be that for my readers, too. I plan to take my knowledge of bar culture, and not only use it to educate the bar world, but also apply it to everyday life.
And, no, you don’t have the be a mustached, American Spirit smoking, self-proclaimed whiskey encyclopedia with strong opinions on the proper ratio for a Boulevardier man to enjoy this blog.
To thrive in the service industry you have to be a certain type of person… otherwise you will never be able to make a career out of it. BUT – the silver lining for everyone else is: the skills you learn in this industry can benefit anyone and everyone in their everyday life. This is a unique part of the industry that I’m particularly passionate about. Working in bars continually impacts my life in so many positive ways. In less than a decade, it already helped improve my relationships, work ethic, business acumen, financial skills and ability to monetize creations. How? You’ll have to stick with this series to figure that part out, but trust me, nothing will go over your head. Beyond enjoying alcohol references and having an appreciation for a dry sense of humor, the only thing you need to benefit from this blog is a 10–minute vow not to not take yourself too seriously.
Sips for Thought: Cocktail #1
Open a White Claw
Pour it over ice
(heard the cool kids were doing it.)