Best of Broward / Palm Beach

Bar Talk with Karlo Torres at the New Carlos and Charlie's in West Palm Beach's City Place

Alright. So it's not a perfect's actually Karlo (with a "k," and -- please -- no "s" at the end). 

But Karlo actually is a perfect fit for Carlos and Charlie's. Like all our featured bartenders, the 31-year-old Honduran-born mixologist is just the right amount of outgoing, loud-spoken and friendly. 

And that's exactly what you need at a Carlos and Charlie's, where congo-lines and table-dancing keep patrons coming back for more good times -- and even better drinks.

At Karlo's bar the margaritas flow freely, and shots of tequila are strongly encouraged --- especially when chased with the favorite Mexican finish: a quick shot of sangrita. At least that's how Karlo likes it. 

Here's what else the fun-loving mix-master had to say:

Carlos and Charlie's -- the loud, vibrant bar and restaurant chain with locations in well-known tourist vacation destinations throughout Mexico and the Caribbean -- is the newest addition to the City Place lineup. Just over a month old, it's already drawing crowds with its bad-ass barfood and delicious drink menu. 

Clean Plate Charlie: So how long have you been bartending?

Karlo Torres: I've been bartending since 2001, when I lived in Boca Raton. But I moved to West Palm Beach about three years ago.

Where did you start out?

Fridays [in Boynton Beach]. I was a server, and I sucked at it. But my friend and I -- we busted our asses -- so they never fired us. I actually ended up moving back to Honduras before I came back [to the U.S.] and got my first bartending job at the Fridays in Mission Bay.

Honduras? When did you live there? 

I was born in Honduras. Then I moved to Brooklyn when I was like three or four. My father -- he's from Palermo [Italy] -- was in the Italian air force, and he met my mother in Honduras, so I moved all over. I finished middle school in Italy, and high school in Honduras. Then I came here and went to college.

Where did you go?

The University of Florida. I majored in business. 

So why are you bartending -- I mean, how many languages do you speak even?

Three. Spanish, Italian and English. And I love bartending! But I also work during the day. I'm a personal banker at Wells Fargo.

Wow, so you basically never sleep?

I do! That's one of the good things about being a bartender. Sometimes the hours suck, but at the same time, at least I'm not out spending money. But I love meeting new people, and most of my friends are in the biz, so I'm going to keep doing this.

Name your top three favorite bars...

I like Dada [in Delray Beach]. That place is so chill. And JB's on the Beach [in Deerfield Beach]. They have the best mojitos, and some really good food. And then there's Duffy's. I love Duffy's. But that's because I like Sunday football, and they have the best specials [for that].

Every bartender has the list of drinks they like to DRINK, and the drinks they like to MAKE...what are yours?

That's a good question. I like to drink Grand Marnier. I also like a really good mojito. They've gotta be shaken really hard, and the mint and the limes have to be really muddled. And it can't be too sweet! And I really like rum runners. A good tiki-bar, and a rum runner. Perfect.

What about to make?

When girls don't know what they want, I'll make them a French Kiss. That's Grey Goose vodka, Chambord, pineapple and cranberry juice, and a splash of sour mix. 

For a shot, I like to make the "Undercurrent." That's raspberry vodka, blue curacao and sour mix, layered with Chambord.

Then, here at Carlos and Charlie's -- of course -- I love to get people to take tequila shots with sangrita.

What's sagrita?

It's basically tomato juice, Tobasco sauce, lime juice and salt. It's the best chaser for tequila. It's a Mexican thing. That's how I chase my tequila.

This place has a huge drink menu. What are some other favorites?

The Pure Margarita ($10, 12-ounce). We use Reposado Corazon, which is really smooth. Then we add triple sec and fresh lime juice and sweeten it with 100% organic agave nectar. It's my favorite margarita here.

Then there are some pretty weird drinks, things I've never even seen or heard of. Like the Vampiro. It's tequila, grapefruit soda (basically Fresca), and sangrita ($8-$12). 

Then you can get things you probably don't see anywhere else, like the Charro Negro, which is just tequila and coke. I promise you this thing will mess you up. Or the Beer Michelada, which is like a beer-infused Bloody Mary ($8-$12).

What else do you like about working at Carlos and Charlie's?

It's a lot like Fridays. You get big crowds. You've got to be really loud and outgoing, and you really have to know what you're doing. There's a lot of drink orders coming in from servers, and out here it gets really packed. Even at the inside bar. So you have to be on top of things.

What brought you here?

It was actually a coincidence. I was working at another bar that I helped open in Boynton Beach, but it wasn't full-time. On one of my days off, I was on my way to Brewzzi's with some friends when I walked by and noticed they were hiring. I came back a few days later, and as soon as they heard I'd worked at Fridays, I was in.

In other words, they like that you're not shy, and don't mind putting on a bit of a show?

No, I'm definitely not shy. And I really like this company. Right now, they're expanding [in the U.S.], and the next location is going to be in Las Vegas. I'd like to go out there and be a part of that.

What? Just up and leave Florida?

Hey, I've got nothing holding me back. Why not?

Spoken like a true bartender, for sure...we better come try that shot of tequila and sangrita before you disappear, then...

Follow Clean Plate Charlie Facebook on Twitter: @CleanPlateBPB.

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Nicole Danna is a Palm Beach County-based reporter who began covering the South Florida food scene for New Times in 2011. She also loves drinking beer and writing about the area's growing craft beer community.
Contact: Nicole Danna