No call drink then?

Not really. I like tequila. Maybe something with a whiskey. I learned to try gin, which is something that I associate with my grandfather. The bars all serve a Manhattan or daiquiri or margarita, but they all have their own take on things. I want to know who the bartender is, and I want the cocktail that’s of that moment. I’m a movie guy, so I think about if I were scripting it, what would be the cocktail for that moment?

There’s also something great about the bartender putting the shot glass down in front of you and saying, “Cheers.” I asked a lot of these bartenders, “In the world of classic cocktails, what is the role of the shot?” My favorite answer: “The shot is the bartender’s handshake.” It means welcome, have a good night, or it’s nice to see you.

In all of this, did you find a new regular spot to replace the Spring Lounge?

I split my time. I still go to Employees Only, but I’m also into a corner bar called the Kettle of Fish. I like the new Milk & Honey on 23rd Street. Sasha isn’t hiding, but it seems like not a lot of people know about it yet, and I think that’s great. I like a place called Daddy-o, I still like PDT, and I go to a place called The Daily a lot.


Hey Bartender
Directed by Douglas Tirola
4th Row Films

With the characters in this community, it’s fascinating that no one’s made a movie like this before.

Well, I think Cheers cast a huge shadow. And, for better or worse, there’s a shadow of negativity. People think, “It’s a bartender, what’s there to say?” This moment of classic cocktails gave me an opening to say, OK, let’s take another look at that story. Something was changing at that moment. It allowed us to take a look and get people interested.

It took awhile to make the movie because I was trying to get a lot of information, but I was also trying to tell a story so that people outside of the industry can relate to it beyond its subject matter. I love the part in the movie when one of the main bartenders says, “I found a way to make a difference in the world as a bartender.” I hope everyone looks at that and says, “Yeah, that’s just like me.”

And then I hope people want to go out and have a drink afterward.

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