Keith LaBonte, the talented mixologist and owner of Four Lounge in Uptown Dallas, passed away on Sunday night. He was only 41.
LaBonte opened Four Lounge in 2008 in a cute little niche off McKinney Avenue and quickly established it as a Sex and the City kind of bar with a strong female clientele. He was known for candy-flavored cocktails that incorporated sweet flavors such as cotton candy, Oreos and banana split.
A friend who asked not to be identified said he heard that LaBonte had died in his sleep. Word spread quickly on Monday among the mixology set, with cocktail gurus like Brian McCullough of Standard Pour calling him "a passionate man, a great friend and a unique individual," whose "zest for life was inspiring" and his passing "way too soon."
Dubbed a mad scientist behind the bar, LaBonte's charm and hospitality made him as much of a draw as his over-the-top cocktails.
A savvy social media practitioner, LaBonte was still posting updates on his Facebook page on Saturday night, when he said, "Good night Facebook someone has a big day tomorrow."
A native of Boston, LaBonte cut his teeth in mixology as food and beverage manager at the Westin Hotel outside Boston, where he oversaw the main restaurant, two lounges and a nightclub. He went on to The Rack, a swanky Boston haunt that was featured on the Food Network and the E! Entertainment channel.
He moved to Dallas in 2004 to become beverage manager for Trece Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Lounge. He helped open Four Lounge in 2008 and became sole owner in 2010. Dubbed a mad scientist behind the bar, his charm and hospitality made him as much of a draw as his over-the-top cocktails.
He consulted on cocktail menus for other restaurants, such as Pepper Smash in Plano, where his artillery included liquid nitrogen, smoke machines and other molecular mixology techniques. And, on Saturday, he announced his purchase of Uptown Barbers, the barber shop adjacent to the lounge.
Some of you know already and members of the press wanted to be the first to leak it out, but I wanted our fans to hear it from me first .......... we did it!!! We bought out the lease next door. Four is getting bigger. We will be allowing extra seating next week and January we start build out. Its been 5 years in the making :)