Last Call

The ax falls on one really grouchy bartender

Pollman is a bit of an author himself, having compiled and edited Bottled Wisdom, a book of 1,000 quotations and witticisms involving alcohol. In 1990 his expertise in the business earned him entry into the Bartenders Hall of Fame. He maintains he's one of only three journeymen in Missouri to enjoy such an honor.

"Mark taught me almost everything I know," says Angie Killingsworth, a bartender at the Frontenac restaurant Fleming's and a former cocktail waitress at the Fox & Hounds. "He'd constantly quiz me on Scotches, Cognacs, ports and beers."

A consummate salesman, Pollman likes to say that his ability to draw a crowd and up-sell a drink made the Fox & Hounds the most profitable bar per square foot this side of Roxy's — one of the several metro-east strip joints he's known to frequent after hours.

"I'm a dog, I admit," says Pollman, who maintains that his love for women — lots of women — has kept him single all these years. Two of his favorite gags at the bar were to recite a poem that rhymed the Latin-named components of female genitalia and challenging women to a sport he called "Casanova arm-wrestling."

"I'd let them pin me, then I'd smother their hand with kisses," Pollman says. "That way we'd both win."

"Yeah, Mark has his own unique way of dealing with people," confirms Mike McCarty, a former manager at the Cheshire Lodge. "But the fact of the matter is, he's a true professional. Most people bartend as a means to an end. Mark has made it his career. That's a rare find these days."

Pollman remains resolute that he's yet to pour his final drink. But a Hall of Fame bartender can't just set up shop anywhere.

"I won't work at someplace like Applebee's," Pollman says. "They wouldn't know what to do with me. I tended bar on an international level. I need high-caliber customers."

Pollman can only hope that his many followers will seek him out at his next gig, wherever that may be. In the meantime, he wants everyone to know that he's the only Mark Pollman listed in the phone book.

"What bothers me most about all this is the thousands of people I'm going to lose touch with," Pollman says. "For 21 years that place was my home. What are people going to say when I'm not there?"

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