Last night we ventured into Four Lounge to visit with barman and proprietor Keith LaBonte. For those that have not yet made their way into the State and Allen lounge, you are missing one of the better cocktails made in the city.
Plenty of props to Lucky, Martensen, Jason and the rest, LaBonte is first to acknowledge that their skills are top-notch. However, LaBonte will note that his style of mixing is polar opposite of the sweeping Prohibition-style cocktail that you will find at Cedars Social or even the new pop-up bar that is opening tonight called 828.
This all sits right with me, because I am a man of variety and appreciate any cocktail made well.
LaBonte comes from a culinary background which might explain why he has a molecular bent to his drinks. You will find a mélange of powders, smoke, pearls, foams and the likes in the cocktails at Four Lounge.
I started in Boston, Cape Cod, washing dishes, learning from chefs and getting on the line, but really fascinated in bartending when I started around 19. I started working in New York around 21 or 22. I worked for Tom Cruz’ sister at Sante Fe Café,” said LaBonte.
“I really loved to cook and my passion was food. I was really intrigued back then how fusion worked, and I loved the idea how we can blend both food and drink together,” LaBonte continued.
The barmen spends much of his day hunting and gathering ingredients and making his own mixes and sauces for cocktails.
Currently LaBonte is finishing touches on his winter menu that will bring back an old crowd favorite, Lemon-Ginger Crème Brulee.
“I love what we do here. I say that we are a bit of Ben and Jerry’s with the craziness of their marketing and for me, what I can do with cocktails. I enjoy changing the rules, that is why we have been around so long,” added LaBonte.
You may recall the tiny bar when it was most recently featured Dallas Most Eligible on Bravo. They were selected by the producers for the cool atmosphere and cool cocktails.
The feature has brought new business from around the country to the bar, but has not affected changes. The gruff sounding LaBonte will be the first to toss obnoxious people, and takes great pleasure in giving grief to Yankee fans mentioning that there is a 20% up-charge to serve those wearing the jerseys or caps.
Come for the cocktails, stay for the funky atmosphere, but be sure to chat up the bartender for a few great stories.