If Chicago barman Josh Davis were driving into the sunset, at the close of a movie about his life, you’d hear the first beats of Jay-Z’s track Allure. “He’s one of my favorite rappers and that song really describes my own life; the allure of the wrong things and how in the end, you make them right,” says Davis. “Hip Hop and Rap are definitely my two favorite categories of music.”
Davis began his bar career first as a bouncer in Chicago. He spent long nights watching DJs influence crowds in nightclubs, from slow jams during early drinks to an all-out dance frenzy at midnight. Then, he got behind the stick in a dive bar, eventually moving to a place that excelled in craft cocktails. All along the way, that power of song to transform a crowd––whether it was a packed nightclub or a lounge a menu focused on rare spirits––influenced the way Davis worked.
“I use that same thought process in the way I pick a playlist for a bar now,” he says. “I look at a crowd and the people at the bar and at tables, and I try and figure out where they are in their day or night. If it’s a group right off of work at Happy Hour, that’s going to be a different song selection than midnight when the bar is five-deep.”
Davis is currently known as a guy who will happily serve you a beer and a shot of whiskey, but who could also make you a fine Boulevardier or Vieux Carre, should you request one.
He’s an every-man’s bartender, but what might surprise some is his equal prowess in the world of music.
“I play trombone, clarinet, and saxophone,” he offers, “and I got my start in the school marching band. I picked the songs on my 6ourbon 7ime playlist because in 2020, we were all home and I wanted to create something super sexy, but with a very chilled out vibe that anyone could enjoy with general company.”
You begin your hour of relaxation with the Laugh Now Cry Later track by Drank, featuring Lil Durk, and then move into Lotus Flower Bomb by Wale, featuring Miguel. He throws a Vedo in the mix later on, with Focus on You. “That song reminds me of someone really special,” Davis says. “And Giveon is a new artist for me. I discovered it on The Joe Budden Podcast: Sleepers on Spotify. The music he puts out is just great.”
The song by Giveon is called Like I Want You, and it’s mid-way through his incredible 17-song compilation, which goes best with a Manhattan, if you ask Davis.
“After a long shift, you’d find me at home. A little Sports Center on; maybe playing a video game, and certainly sipping a Manhattan. If I could be anywhere in 2021, though, I’d be in a rickhouse, sipping something right off the barrel.”
Title and Cocktail Photo by Andy Gia Cat