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Mastering the Art of the Deal at the Bar A bartender muses on one regular's skillful courting of customers.

By Derek Brown

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Even though it may strike you as simple advice, it bears repeating: Get to know your bartender. Of the cast of characters in your life--friends, doctors, lawyers, real estate agents and so on--bartenders rank among the most useful, especially for business professionals.

Take it from someone who has seen it all: Your performance at the bar can render the old mahogany a ladder or a slide, either raising your profile or eviscerating it. This truth was never more evident to me than when I met a soon-to-be regular who mastered the art of the deal at the bar.

His name was Frank. He walked in, sat down and placed an order at my bar: bourbon, rocks. He was a tall, impressive figure with an easygoing demeanor. Instantly likable. During a lull, he asked me about my favorite drinks. We got to talking about a classic Old Fashioned, sans fruit--just rye whiskey, a little sugar syrup, bitters and a thin lemon peel.

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