FeaturesGayest & Greatest 2021

Gayest & Greatest 2021: Drinks and Spirits

Matthew Friar mixes it up at BUDDY’S.

Matthew Friar (courtesy photo)

Favorite Male Bartender

Happy Hours have never been happier at Buddy’s in Montrose since Matthew Friar started serving up drinks there last August. This is the third time Friar, who is gay, has been recognized by OutSmart readers for his behind-the-bar talents. 

This year’s Gayest & Greatest Favorite Male Bartender insists that mixing with the customers while mixing drinks is his favorite part of the job. “I typically work Happy Hours Monday through Friday, from 4 to 9. Happy Hours are a little calmer. I like the middle-of-the-day regulars and the post-work crowd. I like to get to know them and ask them how their families are doing, and having those relationships.”

Recently Friar started picking up shifts on Saturday nights, when  he can enjoy helping people come in and celebrate and keep the party going. His specialty shot/drink is the Liquid Marijuana—which, of course, he makes with only legally sanctioned ingredients.  

“It’s equal parts Captain Morgan, Malibu, and Midori topped off with pineapple, sweet and sour, and a splash of Blue Curacao. It’s a sweet rum drink, but it goes over nicely on hot days,” says Friar.

The Georgia native has lived a majority of his life in Dallas, Houston, and even Puerto Rico. He did a work-from-home job on the island before moving to Houston in 2014. 

“Waking up on the beach is great for a while, but I missed being social. I wanted to be able to go out with friends and see the town. I missed interacting with people on a regular basis,” he admits.  

COVID-19 was particularly challenging for the service industry, and Friar had a difficult time interacting with guests in the way that he was accustomed to. “Learning how to be friendly while having to be socially distant and respectful was difficult,” he notes. “We used to hug and kiss on the cheek, so I had to figure out how to portray my personality and love without overstepping those boundaries.” 

With the emergence of the delta variant, Buddy’s has proactively reimposed some of those COVID protocols while the world continues to deal with the pandemic. But Friar has easily jumped back into those old safety routines. “I always try to put on a happy face and be a good bartender for my clients. I am glad that my customers appreciate it, and have given me this OutSmart honor,” says Friar.

For more info, visit buddys.bar.


Club or Restaurant with The Best Happy Hour

Eagle Houston
Finalists: BUDDY’S, JR’s Bar & Grill, Max’s Wine Dive, ReBar

Club or Restaurant with the Best Margarita

Gloria’s Latin Cuisine
Finalists: El Tiempo Cantina, Eagle Houston, La Tapatia

Club or Restaurant with the Best Martini

Finalists: BUDDY’S, Eagle Houston, JR’s Bar & Grill, Michael’s Outpost, ReBar

Favorite Local Brand of Craft Beer, Cider, or Seltzer

Eureka Heights
Finalists: Houston Cider Co., Karbach Brewing, St. Arnold’s Brewing Co.

Favorite National Brand of Beer, Cider, or Seltzer

Bud Light
Finalists: Dos Equis, Guinness, Heineken, Miller Lite, Modelo

Favorite Female Bartender

Sarah Tompkins-Gutierrez
Finalists: Kristina Prats, Lareyna Rodriguez

Favorite Male Bartender

Matthew Friar
Finalists: Michael Booth, Eric Ervin, Charles Garibay, Bryan Wade, Travis Webb

Favorite Nonbinary Bartender

Crystal Murley
Finalists: Piero Arevalo, Andrew Nagler, Charlotte Shottgun

Favorite Brand of Liquor

FIX Vodka
Finalists: Buffalo Trace, Deep Eddy Vodka, Dripping Springs Vodka, NEFT Vodka, Tito’s Vodka

For a full list of winners, go here.

This article appears in the October 2021 edition of OutSmart magazine.


Ryan Leach

Ryan Leach is a frequent contributor to OutSmart magazine. Follow him on Medium at www.medium.com/@ryan_leach.
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