Bar Beat

Bartender Chat: Art Baez of Next Door

If you've never been to Next Door Bar, but bartender Art Baez looks familiar to you, there's a reason for that. True, he's a Houston legend in the bar scene, but I'm talking about something else.

Yes, everyone's favorite local bartender moonlights as Genghis Khan in the Genghis grill commercials. The Ecuadorian-born Baez happened upon the gig through a friend of a friend. He now stars in several commercials and has life-size replicas posted throughout the US.

As if that weren't enough, the man also makes a mean cocktail. Baez whipped me up a beautiful concoction he dubbed "The Shark Bite," which he created during a particularly busy evening when his patrons were engrossed in a showing of Shark Week. Blueberry Stoli atop a pool of a grenadine with a lime wedge fin, this sugary libation was immensely popular the night I visited.

Baez recently hit the big four-oh, and he says it was an educational experience. "I turned 40, and I didn't go crazy," he says. We're assuming his favorite combination of beer and Jager shots probably helped ease the sting of the big birthday, but truly, when you're the reincarnation of Genghis Khan via Ecuador, life is already pretty sweet.

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Geri Maria Harris