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A Boston cocktail server was just named the best worldwide

Travel A Boston cocktail server, just named the best worldwide by Forbes Travel Guide, shares a great cocktail for spring She also shares her secret for making guests feel special. Mary Ellen Nichologianis, cocktail server at Rowes Wharf Bar at Boston Harbor Hotel, and Stephen Johnson, general manager at Boston Harbor Hotel, at the Forbes Travel Guide awards ceremony in Las Vegas. Forbes Travel Guide
Mary Ellen Nichologianis, a cocktail server at Boston Harbor Hotel’s Rowes Wharf Bar, brings more than drinks to the table.
The 63-year-old Cambridge resident also serves up a whole lot of kindness and attentiveness. That’s why she was just awarded the prestigious Forbes Travel Guide Employee of the Year Award during a ceremony in Las Vegas.
“It was the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me in my whole life,” said Nichologianis, a Nashua, N.H. native and lifelong hospitality professional who has worked at Rowes Wharf Bar for 18 years.
Forbes rigorously evaluates more than 2,000 hotels, restaurants, spas, and cruise ships from around the world before determining the top employees.
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“This award is a true testament to Mary Ellen’s hard work and relentless focus on excellence in everything that she does,” said Stephen Johnston, general manager of the five-star Boston Harbor Hotel, in a statement. “Her passion, knowledge, and genuine care elevate every guest experience, leaving an unforgettable mark on all who have the pleasure of crossing paths with her.”
Forbes Travel Guide wrote this about Nichologianis:
Nichologianis’ guests leave with the sense of having made a true friend. One incognito inspector shared that Nichologianis recognized him as a returning guest from over a year ago, even recalling that his friend had a broken arm during his last visit. On another occasion, the two ran into one another on the street, and Nichologianis greeted the person by name with her signature warmth. Her natural ability to make each person feel special has allowed her to accomplish a remarkable feat: turning a hotel bar into a place that feels like home. Forbest Travel Guide
Boston.com caught up with Nichologianis to talk about her job, Boston, and, of course, cocktails.
Boston.com: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Mary Ellen: Serving. When I wait on a guest, I just think of them as someone who would be coming to my house. I always tell them I am there for them, I’ll do anything I can for them. I really really enjoy serving. I think it’s an honor.
What is the key to making others feel special?
Caring about them, showing an interest in them. Because that makes a big difference. People can see if you are sincere and honest and care about them. And just being friendly. It doesn’t take much. It just takes being kind.
Rowes Wharf Bar at Boston Harbor Hotel. – Boston Harbor Hotel
How do you go above and beyond at your job?
I have a library of books I bring in because I noticed there are lots of guests who have never been to Boston. A lot of them are picture books on Boston and I have reference books in the back. I give them lists of places to go. I also collect antiques. I have antique guides for them to look at. People love it. Sometimes I bring in glassware or antiques to actually bring out to guests when they order certain drinks. I tell them the history of the drinks.
When guests ask you what they should do in Boston, what are some of your recommendations?
It depends on what they want. I like to recommend the South End, because it has some great restaurants, art galleries. The North End. Beacon Hill, Back Bay. A lot of times I’ll tell them to go down Charles Street and go to Tatte. I’ll mention the Nichols House Museum, the Otis House on Cambridge Street. I’ll give them some museums. The State House. The Boston Athenaeum is great to tour. I can tell them where to go antiquing, shopping. I sort of cater to what they might be interested in.
What is the most popular drink at your bar?
The Select 22′ Old Fashioned. It’s made with Boston Harbor Hotel Single Batch Maker’s Mark bourbon, house made thyme demerara syrup, Fee Brothers whiskey bitters, and orange bitters.
What is your recommended cocktail for spring?
Aphrodite’s Potion. It’s not on the menu, but I tell people about it and everyone loves this. It has strawberry puree, Grey Goose vodka, St. Germaine elderflower liqueur, and they top it with Prosecco, and it has organic rose buds as garnish.
If you were a cocktail, what would you be and why?
A Honey Apricot Aprés. It has Sipsmith gin, apricot purée, honey syrup, and it’s topped with Prosecco. It’s in a champagne flute. I feel like it’s sweet, but it’s not too sweet. I love gin and I think the Sipsmith gin is so well balanced with this drink. And I think it’s a celebratory, fun drink. It feels kind, good, and warm.
What is your advice to others in your line of work? How can they achieve success, in your opinion?
Be caring. Be efficient. You have to have the mindset that you are there to serve. And always keep on learning, to keep on growing.

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