Bartender Profile: Fontella Hardman

Tell us a little about yourself, your family and where you grew up.

I was born in a tiny farm town in Midwest Ohio. When I was 10 years old, though, my mom and I moved to Panama City.  One of my older sisters eventually followed us down to Florida, but I have another sister who is still in Ohio. I finished through high school in Lynn Haven and then went to college in Tallahassee at Florida State (Go Noles!)

How did you get into bartending?

I started my career in Marketing and Sales straight out of college. After a bit of job-hopping over the years, I felt pretty unfulfilled. So, I moved to North Carolina and started working as a server/bartender at a local brewery and tap house. My love and appreciation for craft beer really blossomed there…and it became less of a “break” from the real world and more of my new real world.

Tell us a little about your bartending career to date.

A little more than a year later, I moved back to Panama City Beach for personal reasons. A friend of mine took me to this new “Craft Bar” and promised I’d fall in love. I applied for a job the next day! I started as a server, but a few months later I quickly became addicted to the exciting atmosphere behind the bar and our uniquely crafted cocktails, and started tending bar.

What are your favorite ingredients that define your style of cocktail?

Fresh herbs are definitely my jam! If I came up with it, you can pretty much bet it is going to have fresh basil, thyme, mint, cilantro, or rosemary.

What cocktail trends or spirits interest you at the moment?

I like experimenting with a variety of unique bitters (namely, Bittermens). I also have a thing for spicy or savory cocktails. For example, a savory margarita with muddled jalapenos and drops of habanero shrub bitters on top is definitely a go-to!

And finally, is there a special cocktail of your creation that you’d like to share with The Craft Bar fans?

The “About Thyme”: Farmer's Gin, simple, citrus, and torched thyme!