The doors at Richland Pointe Restaurant won’t open for three hours, but there’s already a buzz around the bar —not that kind of buzz. It’s a palpable energy that people and pets can sense at playtime.

“This is our favorite thing to do,” says bartender Savannah Whittington, using an eyedropper to carefully turn a chunk of ice into a pink rose. On and around the bar is every kind of spirit and liqueur imaginable. There are fruits and herbs, tonics and mixes. The liquid engineering commences, followed by fun banter, periods of silence, and occasionally, congratulatory bursts.

“We’re more than tenders of the bar,” says Steve Pinheiro, Director of Platinum Dining Services at Reynolds. “Watch. And listen.”

They’re chefs. “We have intuitions about flavor combinations,” says Kyle Leonard. Behind a swinging door in the kitchen, Director of Culinary and Executive Chef Zouhair Bellout says the exact same thing over a cutting board: “Experimentation sets us apart as a culinary team.”

They’re historians. Steve studied history in college. When he curates specific ingredients and proposes drink names, he uses his knowledge of historical figures and geography. “Most of it’s true, too,” he says with a grin.

They’re artists. Look at the colors of the drinks. “That’s no accident,” Kyle says. Neither is the glitter or sprigs. “A drink goes through a progression when it’s served.” First, it needs to be interesting to the eyes. Then, pleasant to the nose. And finally, it needs to be tasty all the way down the runway.

The bartender has another important role: storyteller. There’s a narrative behind drinks like a Knee Knocker and If There’s a Will There’s a Hemingway. Some don’t make it to the menu, either because of taste, practicality, or the name needs work (a Liquid Landfill anyone?).

“People buy a drink because it tastes good,” Steve says, “but put an interesting name and a story behind it, and now you’ve got something special.”

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