Y’all know how much I heart me some [relatively] low-key, prohibitionist, revival type anti-hotspots, right? Well, Employees Only is just one such jewel, among an ever-growing NYC contingent, that’s been somewhat littered with “throwback” themed venues over the last 10 years. Honestly, many of them suck ass or slowly degenerate into suckery. E.O. hasn’t (yet) been terribly overrun with Porsche-loving, douchebag financiers, nor Staten Island Ed Hardy types, nor Jersey spiked-hair and lobster-tan dudes, nor plastic-faced Dix Hills L.I. rich bitches – thankfully. Likewise, nary have they deviated from their initial mission statement. Their raison d’être: atmosphere and vibe, combined with quality and trend-setting cocktails hasn’t suffered one bit since opening day. Those are just a few such reasons it remains popular with Hospitality industry employees.
Steve Schneider, in the above video, is “Principal Bartender” (whatever that means) at Ye Old bar. He’s also the principal bartender in Doug Tirola’s upcoming flick on the bartending profession. Steve’s been profiled many times by all kinds of rags; probably more so than Sasha Petraske at this point. There are articles by Esquire, Eater and The Daily News – just to name a few. Google his ass and you’ll be reading for weeks. Spend more than 30 seconds eyeballing Steve in action, and you’ll quickly realize this bartender regards the profession very seriously. Simultaneously, he keeps it real – eschewing the Mixologist label – cleverly disassociating himself with the all-too-familiar elitist, prick bartender that I’m sure most of you have had the displeasure of ordering from.
Along with PDT, Dutch Kills, the now-shuttered Milk & Honey, and scattering of Williamsburg/Greenpoint area pubs, E.O. is one of those rare birds that occupies the top rung of the NYC throwback bar genre whilst “keeping it real.” In other words, the bartenders are not arrogant pricks. Nor will they roll their eyes and throw your ass to the curb for desiring a seemingly simple, “pedestrian” highball or – gulp – a beer
I’ve spent some quality time at Employees Only and can honestly say that they accomplish their mission quite well. Check it out if you’re in the area.