Story by E. Brocky McKnight of Whiskey & Kicks
I judge a restaurant by the quality of the cheeseburger they serve me. Yes, sometimes even the fancy places. What can I say? - show me the beef! I judge a bar by the quality of craft cocktails they can craft for me. No, ma’am, I do NOT want an orange slice in my Old Fashioned nor should anyone else. EVER! Most importantly to me, I judge a man’s character by his passion. With that said, I introduce to you Frank Mills: Master Bartender.
One Part Whiskey
Just as you would nose a Whiskey to pick up certain scents before you even have a taste, in a similar fashion, most times you can hear Frank Mills before you actually begin the experience of soaking up the personality of this raging bull. He is the definition of perpetual motion and this started as a child. “...I got introduced to sports, getting hella dirty in the woods, fighting (I knocked a kid's tooth out his mouth before entering the first grade), and racing everything from bikes, sleds, rollerblades, r/c cars, and the school bus. That’s where I got the very first of my several nicknames, Mills on Wheels.”
Not much has changed with this gentleman who uses the catchphrase, “POWER UP” to get himself and those around him motivated to give their all in life. Do you remember the “hear him first” thing that I mentioned? Yeah, that same voice but up close. You have to experience it to believe it.
And you have to experience a cocktail from Frank Mills aka “Drank Mills”. The experience begins from the moment he walks up to tend to you at the bar. Not sure what you want? Well, what do you like? Yeah? Well here are a few suggestions for those particular tastes. And here’s a joke with a hearty laugh to follow. Now, let me bang out this Prohibition Cocktail for you right quick that will have you calling me your favorite bartender.
“It takes a long time to make a name for yourself behind a bar, and part of it is because there are so many of us. Not all want to learn the craft more than take-home money, but for those that do this is an industry that spans back over six centuries so there is that much knowledge to retain to become somewhat quality at your job.”
Feeding one’s own passions is mandatory. It’s called living life. And if we don’t live our lives to the fullest, then what are we really doing here?
One Part Campari
I recall sitting in the coveted window seat of a particular bar in DC one night. Out of nowhere, I see this figure of a human gliding down the middle of the street. In between cars and such. It was Frank Mills on a Longboard. He stopped by, gave hugs, laughed loudly, and then off into the night he went. Believe me, longboarding in DC streets at night may seem risky for us regular folk but not this dude. “I’m an adrenaline junkie extremist as I mentioned earlier so with that mentality and proper precautions, nothing besides death scares me. Skydiving is a thrill I want to do one hundred more times because the G forces of nose-diving through the stratosphere gets your boy going something serious. One day I’ll probably BASE jump off a building to top that sh*t just to say I did it.”
Bro, BASE jump off a what? I mean, the other day I climbed up on my counter and decided to jump down from it. My knee kinda hurts from that. I swear I’m a fun person, but enough about me. What other types of BRIGHT RED activities do you like to experience in this world that can be as grey as you let it?
“Biking was the first thing I learned I was good at, and I just never stopped riding into adulthood hence the first nickname I’ve ever received. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu took the place, as my needed physical release, after my football years…”
Mantra: “As long as you are not harming yourself or others, all bets are off... do as you please in this lifetime.”
One Part Sweet Vermouth
Feeding one’s own passions is mandatory. It’s called living life. And if we don’t live our lives to the fullest, then what are we really doing here? However, serving others is a true testament of a man’s character. I’ve seen Frank Mills in action, speaking out on behalf of his contemporaries in regards to Initiative 77 in Washington, DC. I’ve interviewed him twice on the Whiskey & Kicks Show and I have heard him speak passionately about how the Service Industry served such a huge role in the success of the DMV yet, has taken an equal and avoidable hit during Covid-19. Frank says, “The Covid-19 pandemic was so unforeseen for everybody within every industry in the world, yet our officiating powers didn’t take it seriously enough initially to create any positive curving of the spread. All service industry was hit hard and is still getting rocked, not just in the DMV. With each state being governed differently even within our tri-state region, the now general consensus is that the government doesn’t give a damn about the food/beverage/hospitality industry. Not the establishments, not the operators, and sure as hell not the employees.”
You see, just like The Boulevardier Cocktail, a man is made up of multiple parts. No part serves a lesser role than the last or the next. Without them all, that man is incomplete. I couldn’t imagine Frank without the hearty laugh. Without being a master of a particular skill set. Or without being the gatekeeper, of sorts, for his service industry family and those that he loves. And dammit, the guy makes one hell of a cocktail! Especially the Boulevardier, which he states came BEFORE the Negroni! Not to mention, he has the cocktail ingredients tattooed on his body. “The Boulevardier, a cocktail you only drink and enjoy if you actually enjoy alcohol. Due to its ingredient components being spirit solely, though similar to the manhattans, old fashioneds, sazeracs, and vieux carres of the world, if you haven’t acquired the taste for whiskey, sweet vermouth, and especially bitter Campari it just simply ain’t for you!” Touche.
Want to express that orange peel, sir?
“Beyond growing into the positive man my family, loved ones, experiences, and the environment I was raised in helped produce, I am deeply a lifeist. I know there is no definition of the word yet, but everything started somewhere right? In that regard is exactly what a lifeist keeps in mind, the beginning and the end. I realized by general definition I am an optimistic realist, and that life is a blessing, hence why I’m so scared of death. Taking every factor into consideration of maintaining the foundation of the world we live in, to establish further morality within humanity is the truest goal of a lifeist. In doing so, not only elongating your own life, but being an aid to do so for others is a lifelong mission. Within proper healthy lifestyles, the ability to recognize human strain and lessen the loss of us all through natural, current, and future medical advancements allows for us all to preserve the life we deserve to live simply for being born. Now we all have vices that steal from this ideology, but even so, the goal is to live the only life you have to the fullest. That is the message I’ll always relay to the world.”
With that said brother, here’s your key to the Man Cave. Well deserved.
E. Brocky McKnight
Brocky founded Whiskey & Kicks in 2017 in Washington, DC…over a glass of brown water. Whiskey & Kicks is a Show about Booze and Shoes! Brocky joined the VIP team in 2020 on a mission to bring stories of interesting and inspiring local men to readers, while celebrating the diversity of the DMV.
Keep an eye out for Brocky's VIP Man Cave feature in every issue and check out The Whiskey & Kicks Show!