John Berg stands, rail-thin, behind the bar at Dressel's. His shock of white hair and long mustache invite caricature. His voice rises from some depth, we imagine, of profound existential contemplation. We know folks who hold him in a combined estimation of awe and fear.
The standard story is that somebody who commands such a presence is really a sweet, regular guy. We're happy to report that Berg is not a sweet, regular guy. Berg is complex and perverse. He has an intimate knowledge of the follies of humanity. He can rail eloquently against the puritan aspects of the American character. He's a font of hard truths.
And he mixes terrific drinks -- a superlative martini, a chocolate concoction that makes us swoon.
And there is, we admit, something sweet about him, too.
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