LARK on the Park’s, Matthew Orth seems to live by one motto: come, see, conquer. How else to describe his quick rise from humble beginnings—only a few years he was a packager at a local home brewing shop—to the lead bartender position at LARK, the newest offering by famed Dallas restaurateur, Shannon Wynne. Matthew followed his intuition and worked his way into the bar and restaurant scene, eventually landing a bartending gig at one of Wynne’s other establishments, Meddlesome Moth. There, immersed in a world of craft beer and exotic elixirs, Matthew’s curiosity about the art of mixology ignited. At LARK, located in bustling Klyde Warren Park, Matthew admits he stays pretty busy, either by designing the seasonal cocktail menu or by tending the bar in the evenings. “If I’m not working, then I’m somewhere studying on how to be a better bartender,” Matthew says. “I’ll read anything in the world of craft cocktails, from books on bitters to bar management.”
What’s your signature cocktail?
Smoked Manhattan. It’s not technically smoked; instead I use a Laphroaig 10-year scotch for a rinse, a nice rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, Fernet Branca and a dash of Amaretto to round it out. You get a peaty characteristic from the scotch, the rye gives it a nice peppery oak quality, and the Fernet adds a nice dryness at the end.
What’s your best bartending skill?
My product knowledge. Working at the Meddlesome Moth gave me a great understanding of beer in general, from the different styles to brewing methods. On the topic of spirits, the company gave me the opportunity and the freedom to grow and try things, to actually experiment with different cocktails, learning how to balance flavors and figuring out how I can apply those balancing concepts to things like bitters and vermouth.
Tell me something about you most people don’t know.
One day, when my bartending career is over, I’d like to get into commercial design for restaurants and bars. I like to go into places and check out at how bars are set up from a barkeeper's perspective, study the placement of things like the sinks and wells, the overall flow of a space. I like to think about how I would change things or leave them the same, about the different design elements, like wood steel, stone, and the appeal of different dynamics and aesthetics.
What’s your bartending pet peeve?
When servers come up and put their trays on the well. The well at LARK is too small for that. Putting a tray on the well while tickets are piling up and I’m trying to crank out cocktails is the absolute worst.
What’s the silliest thing a drunk customer has done?
Lots of them like to try the old “I know the owner” routine, where they run up $120 bar tabs and try to tell us the owner said their tab would be “on the house.” I think everyone in Dallas knows Shannon Wynne at this point, but I’m afraid that story is not going to work.
Click here for more interviews with great Dallas bartenders!
For more info: LARK on the Park is located in Klyde Warren Park in downtown; 2015 Woodall Rogers Freeway, Dallas, Texas, 75201; (214) 855-5275.
Did you enjoy this article? If so, please share it with your friends. Click on my Subscribe button to receive email updates when new articles are available. Can't get enough Dallas Bartender Examiner? Follow me on Twitter.