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Bartender Kevin Hickner

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In the 1990s, Kevin Hickner was a force behind the drum kit, working the sticks for punk and hardcore bands before joining a live hip hop group that opened for the likes of the Roots, OutKast, and De La Soul.

“Living in Detroit’s Cass Corridor in the ’90s and playing in a hip hop band and getting to open for all my idols was amazing,” Hickner says.

Nowadays, the veteran drummer works behind the stick at FRAMEbar, and can be found chatting up regulars about his musical escapades.

But make no mistake, Hickner has been a force in the metro Detroit bar scene for nearly three decades, having opened The Bosco in Ferndale when it was a true lounge that featured one of southeast Michigan’s first ambitious cocktail menus. (Frame founder and creative director Joe Vaughn photographed some of Hickner’s first cocktails there.)

“The fact that I’ve been behind the bar for 27 years, was a musician, and growing up in the ’90s and seeing Nirvana’s first shows, seeing the White Stripes’ first shows, the ’90s hip hop heyday, and getting covered in tattoos before it was a thing — I’ve got a lot of stories,” Hickner says.

After long stints at places like Ronin and shorter ones opening The Peterboro, Voyager, and Antihero, the affable bartender joined the FRAMEbar team in Hazel Park in 2019, during Chef Michael Barrera’s residency as Latido.

Hickner re-wrote the cocktail menu at Latido and introduced Hazel Park to the campfire margarita, a beverage that proved so popular it remains the one constant on the ever-changing FRAMEbar menu.

But when it comes to the cocktail he enjoys making the most, Hickner keeps it old school.

“My favorite drink to make is a classic Old-Fashioned done right,” he says. “That’s always been my favorite go-to. If people say they don’t like bourbon, I show them how we can get them to appreciate it without changing it too much.”

Follow Kevin Hickner’s music and beverage exploits on Instagram @kev_yo.