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The bar scene in Gainesville keeps kicking
Happy hour gets mixed business
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The perfect pour

What's the secret to a great pint of beer?

Juan Luna of Luna's in Gainesville: Hold the glass "tilted and let the beer pour onto the other side of the glass." This will ensure about a 1/2-inch layer of foam on the beer.

Chrissy Alvis of AJ's Food Fun & Friends in Gainesville: "If you pour down the center of the glass, it holds the carbonation better."

What's the secret to great cocktails at home?

Alvis: "I have pour spouts on my bottles at home ... you need them or it won't be the same without the consistency."

Katie Keddington, bar manager at Sweetfire Lodge on Browns Bridge Road in Gainesville: Add Champagne to any drink. "You can add flare to any martini by adding a splash of champagne to make it festive," she said.

Bartenders listen to the gossip, tall tales and sad stories from customers at local watering holes.

But besides being pseudo psychologists, they also are the experts in the cocktail creation field.

They can tell you how to pour the best drink, the shortcuts to making a perfect cocktail at home and what the local nightlife scene is all about.

Chrissy Alvis, a bartender at AJ's Food Fun & Friends in Gainesville, said she thinks Gainesville has a great nightlife scene.

"One thing about here is that we have a diverse group of people," she said. "A lot of people mingle - I'd say even better than Atlanta, for the most part."

AJ's is one of the few establishments in Gainesville that offers happy hour drink specials, along with Wild Wing Café.

"People are rushing in the door at 5 p.m. to get that first happy hour drink," Alvis said. "I would say the 12-ounce draft beer and $3 Jager shots are the most popular."

Wild Wing Café bartender Jennifer Mote said business slowed a lot at the end of summer, but in recent weeks it's picked back up.

And the business has nothing to do with the happy hour ordinance the city passed Aug. 19 - Mote said she has her regulars, and there hasn't been any change since the addition of happy hour to the schedule.

"It's not really changed our business," she said of happy hour. "Weekends were kind of slow, but now they're picking up."

With the weak economy, bars and restaurants have seen a change in the bar scene in general, according to Juan Luna.

"People aren't bar hopping. They are having a couple of drinks and leaving to go home," said Luna, owner and bartender at Luna's Restaurant on the square in Gainesville.

He also added that his restaurant isn't geared to the late night crowd anyway. Most weekend nights Luna's has a piano player or soloist to entertain customers who are having a few cocktails, which are likely to be cosmopolitans and French martinis.

But for the men who frequent the restaurant, beer still holds the No. 1 spot in popularity.

Kristen Morales contributed to this report

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