BEST BARTENDER - 2010
Dan Oskey, the Strip Club
High on a bluff on the east side of St. Paul sits a magical place. Housed in a brownstone dating back to the late 1800s, with an iron lantern lighting the entrance, the Strip Club is reminiscent of a speakeasy, where the best bartender in town is waiting to fix you a lil' something nice. Dan Oskey, the ever-gracious man behind the bar, believes a drink should be complicated, melodious, and, as he states, "should almost tell you a story and have a beginning, middle, and an end." He accomplishes this feat with his bubbling concoctions, stewing away somewhere on the premises preparing house-made everything: glorious seasonal infusions, savory tonics, vinegary shrubs, and crazy-ass bitters, made out of unlikely ingredients like tonka beans and mangos. While his drink wizardry is always impressive, he also understands that half the fun of sitting at the bar is enjoying the company of the person behind it. Oskey is an easy conversationalist who always seems glad to have you there. While the drink menu features a handful of favorites, the selections are constantly changing, and Oskey is always enthusiastic when letting you sample new creations or preparing something special off the menu. Oskey's influence is a big part of the Strip Club's success. He takes on the difficult task of making the cocktails as important as the restaurant's heavenly food—and comes out a champ.