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Best Sommelier 

Chris Hoel

Cocky though he may come across, Chris Hoel does sport this town's million-dollar nose. One of only two St. Louis sommeliers certified "Advanced" by the London-based Court of Master Sommeliers, the 33-year-old took a crack at becoming the world's 125th "Master" this past March. Alas, Hoel didn't pass the exam — which covers wine, spirits, cigars and waters — but plans to bone up and try again in 2008. Until recently you would have found him working on the wine lists at Maplewood's Monarch restaurant. But the sommelier now has his sights set on opening a downtown speakeasy, which is expected to exude an exclusive vibe. An autumn '07 unveiling is reportedly in the works. In the meantime, Hoel is keeping his beezer in the books.

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