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Bartender of the month: Ben McCracken of Sundown at Granada

Ben McCracken of Sundown at Granada is a rock and roller at heart
Robert Stahl

Let’s face it; your evenings aren’t as cool as Ben McCracken’s. When night comes, he’s heading in to his shift at the Sundown at Granada, an eatery and beer garden that boasts about 9 of his original cocktails on the drink menu. Either that, or he’s performing with his band From Parts Unknown. “We’re not going to stop until we’ve toured the world,” the often-mohawked bartender laughs. As a rock-and-rolling bartender, McCracken seems to delight in smashing juxtapositions together. His Duck Dynasty beard wages eternal war with his messy, art student hair. The band’s music grinds together elements of of rock, metal, and punk. Even his cocktails seem to scream out “let’s smash a bunch of stuff together and see what sticks!” Take his Shishito-Grapefruit Margarita for instance, made with spicy shishito peppers, agave nectar, fresh grapefruit and lime juice, and a dash of Lillet Rouge to give it “a nice wine like finish.” A complex creation, by any standards. Yet McCracken remains approachable, a quality he probably owes to his philosophy on life. “Stay humble and constantly learn,” he advises. “The second either of those stop, you become a bad bartender, and a bad person in general.”

Tell me something about you that most people don’t know.

I have a tattoo of (Philip J.) Fry from Futurama on my upper arm. I guess you could say Fry is my alter ego. I’ve always been a Matt Groening fan.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A firefighter, or a dinosaur depending on what age I was. A teacher for a while. Yeah, I really I thought I would become a teacher. But now I’m just going to be a dirty rock and roll kid for the rest of my life. On second thought, maybe I should have stuck with my original plan: a firefighting, teaching, dinosaur.

What’s the best part of the job?

Bartending is a really cool networking too. With me being in music, and especially getting to work here on Greenville Avenue, which is kind of a musical mecca of its own, it’s a fun way to get the word out on what I’m doing.

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

Probably somebody like Matthew Broderick, like in some kid of Ferris Bueller take on my life. I’m far too self-deprecating to be taken seriously. Whoever played me would have to be a lot like Bugs Bunny, with a dose of James Bond thrown in.

What’s your worst bartending habit?

Adding lots of egg white-based drinks to our cocktails menus. The other bartenders are always like, “Seriously?”

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For more info: Sundown at Granada is located at 3520 Greenville Avenue, Dallas, Texas 75206; (214) 823-8305.

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