BEST BARTENDER Phoenix 2003 - Mama Lita
Once upon a time, Angelo's Lounge must have been quite a bar. All the signs of past success are there: the dusty disco lights, a waterless fountain, woodland scene wallpaper stained gray with smoke. Customers still shoot pool and play "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town" on the jukebox, but the main draw to the place is the same as it has been for three decades: Mama Lita, Angelo's 69-year-old bartender. Mama, as she prefers to be called, holds court with regulars from behind the expansive bar, shuffling down to one end to check on the television, back to the other to refill drinks or swap out ashtrays. Mama's from Greece, she'll tell you. Her husband Angelo brought her here and they ran the place together from 1973 until Angelo's health interfered. Lita's attentive and friendly, and it's her robust sense of humor that makes Angelo's Lounge a place one wants to linger -- well, that and the stiff drinks she pours.