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  • Writer's pictureTyler Haley

Sophisticated Living

"The most sophisticated read on the Music City."

Woodford Reserve's Manhattan Experience 2022 article can be found online at

Sophisticated Living is a bi-monthly publication that has branches in Cincinatti, Columbus, Indianapolis, Lexington, Louisville, Nashville, St. Louis, and Chicago. Dave and Melissa Mahanes, the owners and editors for Nashville's branch of Sophisticated Living, came out to document our wonderful afternoon at the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience. Their combined resumé of cultural and professional work includes Melissa having worked for Sotheby's and contemporary art dealers Larry Gagosian and Anthony d’Offay in New York; and serving on the boards of Nashville Ballet and Sexual AssaultCenter, as well as Co-Chair of The Mad Hatter, Ballet Ball, Symphony Ball, and Swan Ball Auction. Dave spent most of his career in the banking industry in New York and Nashville; he also has served on the boards of Belle Meade Plantation and Equal Chance for Education, the advisory boards of W.O. Smith School, and the Nashville Symphony, as well as serving as a deacon for the First Presbyterian Church.

Good evening, all. When the bartenders first applied to the competition and sent their recipes to Woodford Reserve back in February, we had no idea that one of the perks was an interview with a magazine that catered to Nashville's affluent society. As I picked that bit of information out of the air at the Woodford Reserve brand ambassador's luncheon, a powerful sense of joy swept through my body. This already premier situation had quickly evolved from developing two recipes in my kitchen per my friend's request, to having lunch with past competition winners and other heavyweight bartenders in the scene, to getting featured in Sophisticated Living and having a professional photoshoot... and none of us had yet to advance to the next round!

While everyone was busy setting up our cocktail station at the Hutton Hotel on competition day, we were told that after we got done competing for the judges, we were to sit down with Dave and Melissa for a quick interview. I remember Dave asking me about my background in the service industry and where I was from (the quintessential, "How long have you been in Nashville?").

I told them how I always had to have a job in the service industry since 2013 when I moved to town to go on the road as a musician, and I had a knack for working hard and talking with people (a future natural server). Porta Via was my first serving job, and I quickly transitioned to serving at Bar Louie. After that came barbacking and bartending at Sambuca, followed by pH Craft Cocktails and a pandemic. To summarize, all of those experiences created Drink Like Royalty! The culmination of my years spent in the service industry, performing well in cocktail competitions, and the willingness to improve Nashville's bar scene in any way I can meant that I had to start my own business. I remember Dave and Melissa were very nice and cordial during the interview, and how they seemed to truly enjoy becoming acquaintances with all of us bartenders.

When it seemed we were finished with the interview, Dave pulled out one more question and asked me to tell him one interesting fact about myself. I personally despise that question ~

"What's something interesting about yourself?" It's a random self-introspective and personal opinion question that comes at you full speed, attempting to pierce through your thick body armor. It's a good thing my quick wit kicked in before my mind blanked out and I said something stupid! I coolly told him that I play drums in a 3-piece rock band called Beset., and how we will soon be releasing our full-length album called Make Peace With The Promise Of Failure, a project that we recorded mostly in an empty pizza restaurant during the hellish and socially distanced summer of 2020.

~ Whew, close call.

So here we are. Fast forward with me to this moment, and Drink Like Royalty has been published in two magazine editorials, bartended a wonderful Professional Women's Empowerment event inside an art gallery, bartended an awesome private 50th birthday party, helped PourTaste bartend their pop-up event for The Highlight TN, and prepped cocktails for a Johnnie Walker x Angel City Football Club photoshoot featuring Tia P and Brittany Howard!

We at Drink Like Royalty are having a great time bartending formal private events, developing cocktail menus, and developing FOH training programs that are designed to be put to use at one of the many worthwhile establishments in our city. Drink Like Royalty still has availability this year for parties, menu development, and staff training! Please visit the Book Online link at the top of the page to schedule a free video consultation before our schedule fills up for the summer. Cheers 🥂

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