Meet the bearded brigade – Currently, Niku and Neil from Rustico on Slaters Lane might just be my two favorite bartenders. Not only does Rustico have a decidedly fantastic happy hour, but it also employs these two charmers that serve me my brew. Niku tends to radiate the laid back attitude for which his native state of California is known while remaining incredibly attentive to the status of your drink. There’s a chance I’m partial to this well-traveled, motorcycle riding gent because we have the same favorite beer (Blue Point Toasted Lager – If there are bartenders reading, ORDER THIS BEER!). Even though he has bartended elsewhere in the past, Niku admits that Rustico is the best place he’s ever worked because of the “neighborhood atmosphere, good people and great beer.” He claims that its “easy to sell a product you support” which is clearly evidenced by the enthusiasm that accompanies his recommendations.
Equally as delightful, Neil is an Alexandria local with mad jujitsu skills and pretty green eyes. If you needed more than that (and who really does?), he is super knowledgeable about the 334 beers Rustico has to offer. His spot on recommendations help you easily grasp what you’re about to consume with a simple description and not an air of pretension – quite helpful for a novice beer lover such as myself. He claims one of the perks of working at a place like Rustico is the incredible knowledge of the entire staff, but I think he’s just being humble – he clearly knows the most! Another bonus? The carrot hummus with feta and lamb, a mutual favorite we both agree is one of the best appetizers on the menu. When I asked him if he had any pets, he said no but then retracted and admitted that he does have two cats but doesn’t really like them. I’m not buying it – how could you not adore a munchkin cat? (Don’t know what a munchkin cat is? I didn’t either. Do yourself a favor and YouTube it.) As if awesome company, solid drink recommendations and inexpensive but delicious beer isn’t enough, I might just find myself in the possession a short legged permakitten-like feline thanks to the super friendly stewards of this bar.