Best Bartender

Susan Avery - Café Europa

323 East 55th Street | 816-523-1212

Even when every chair is occupied at Café Europa, the romantic boîte in the Crestwood shops on the north side of Brookside, the place feels like a well-kept secret. One big reason: Susan Avery, the brilliant mixologist who most nights presides over the restaurant's intimate bar. In a comfortable but narrow passage that accommodates five or six people at a time, a space which suggests that a password might be required, Avery smiles, greets and pours like someone giving a small party in her own home. Wait here for your table, talking easily with this friendly, attentive woman who's full of ideas for vodka infusions and impossibly smooth martinis, and you'll be sad to leave when your place is ready in the dining room. But she stays with you in spirit(s) all the way through your meal — her delicious cocktail menu is right there on the table — and you can wave at her on your way out. Better yet, stop again for a nightcap. No bartender in town makes you feel less rushed.

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