Ruta Smith

2037 Sam Rittenberg Blvd. West Ashley

(843) 766-6331

Working behind a bar is more than just crafting cocktails for CP Best Bartender Shana Swain, who spent 14 years at Manny’s Mediterranean Restaurant before joining the team at Zen Asian Fusion five years ago. After nearly two decades at West Ashley bars, Swain has found that the elite bartenders are able to connect with their customers.

“The key is being as relatable as possible,” said Swain. “My customers and guests are friends now. It’s one thing to make a really good drink and it’s another to secure the trust of the guest.”

Swain said that customers love their sake and cocktail list at Zen Asian Fusion, which includes hits like the gin and elderflower infused “Lotus Flower,” her favorite drink to make. “I think we’ve managed to please everyone,” said Swain, who also admitted to having a soft spot for classic cocktails like the Manhattan and Old Fashioned.

For Swain, the recognition is the culmination of a career spent at customer-driven establishments. “Having been in the industry so long, I’ve been able to observe accolades going to people in certain areas of town. This gives me a validation that even the small bars have an incredible following.” —Parker Milner

Kathy Volpe, Uptown Social