The bartenders themselves are a motley crowd, most of whom ended up in the service industry by accident — or at least without intending to stay. These ex-actors and military veterans have a dogged energy for performance, and are often surprised by their enthusiasm for their own profession, especially when the reasoning voices of less-than-proud parents and weary partners threaten to drown out the din of clinking glass and comfortable chatter.
The film is more of a love story, a Terrence-Malick-meets-Ken-Burns mood piece, than it is a narrative. But if there's a central story, it's how the craft cocktail, absent from American drinking culture since prohibition, reentered the scene. It's gaining popularity with cosmopolitan drinkers at bars like New York's neo-speakeasy Employees Only (profiled in the film) but also in places like Westport, Connecticut, where Steve Carpentieri manages Dunville's, a neighborhood restaurant and bar.
What carries the documentary is Tirola's expansive, democratic spirit — his understanding of the value of a bar as a meeting place, not just as a stage for bitters and booze. His friendly film goes down as easily as a well-mixed drink.
7 p.m. 14 Pews, 800 Aurora. For information, call 281-888-9677 or visit www.14pews.org. Free to $10.
Mon., June 24, 7 p.m., 2013