food and beverage underground

Colorado Springs Bartenders (I)

by Christopher Hicks
(Colorado Springs)

There is no single definitive quality that determines whether an individual is, or isn’t, a good bartender. It is a myriad combination of social, and technical skills that make the bartender what he is; which, specifically, is whatever you need him to be. A good bartender can, with seemingly little effort, make a mango margarita, give a patron sound marital advice, squeeze fresh lime juice, toss out an unwanted troublemaker, listen to the woes of an overworked executive, wash dishes, polish glasses and tell a joke all at the same time. Colorado Springs is home to a few of these artisans and over the next few months I hope to profile some of the standouts among them. Enter…Giovanni.

Giovanni Pardo has been tending bar for just over two years. That isn’t a very long time in this industry, but then he hasn’t needed a long time to get serious about what it is that he does. The first time I went into The Rendezvous Lounge, Giovanni gave me a smile and shook my hand with a paw the size of a small ham. He asked my handle and gave me his, and within five minutes I felt like I’d been a regular at his bar all my life. I’ve always been partial to this old-school style of bartending and immediately distrust any bartender who is too busy, or indifferent, to shake my hand and introduce themselves. He has a quiet reserve to him and while yet young, you can see in his eyes that he’s been some places and seen some things. He doesn’t have anything to prove, and that’s where true quality comes from.

There are many bartenders who make it a point to tell others how good they are, but I have learned that if you have to tell people you’re the best, well…then you’re not. Giovanni isn’t trying to convince people that he’s good at what he does. He doesn’t need too. His technique is simple; he gives you something exceptional in every product, something that will bring you back in for another. It certainly worked on me.

The bar he tends, The Rendezvous Lounge (128 N. Tejon St), is a dying breed. They have two things that bars of today seldom offer; good service, and good cigars. Not only that, The Rendezvous Lounge also has over 300, yes…300, different kinds of vodka for Giovanni to practice his alchemical tendencies with. Like many great bartenders, Giovanni takes pride in representing himself through his cocktails. He strives to use the freshest ingredients possible in every drink he slings. His caipirinha is made using only the finest Cachaca, lime juice that he squeezes per order, and sticks of whole sugarcane. His mojitos are loaded with fresh spearmint and lime juice. His martinis are ice cold. His olives are hand stuffed. His bar is clean. His economy of movement is fluid. His future is bright.

Do yourself a favor, stop into the Rendezvous and meet Giovanni. Shake his hand and give him your handle. Then relax, smoke a cigar, and enjoy a great drink.

Gastronomically yours,


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