I’m an ass (my own ass shot for posterity). After a few multi-year bartending stints in a couple of key NYC venues, I flew the coop. I had been in one particular bar so long, it had become unfortunate home. My regulars became my drinking buddies and, cursedly, my Facebook “friends.” I had become so comfortable – in a poisonous environment – that I had already “jumped the shark” in my own head and subsequently, career path. I knew the time had come to become… The Gypsy Bartender. As a vagabond, I would wander from bar to bar, doing guest spots, seasonal gigs, and mostly – not getting into my previous groove with my much-adored co-conspirator.
So I’ve been at “bar X” in MPD for a while now. I’ve endured numerous, required, eerily long epically repetitive “training” sessions. I’ve eaten crow repeatedly as The Low Man on The Totem Pole. I’ve made good money here and there over the months and met mostly really cool and very talented people. I’ve also run into a handful of ass-nasty useless turds that pass for service industry employees. I guess there are bad seeds in every bunch.
Just like the majority of my dating history, where I’ve mostly not been a dude who does the shagnasty with a different qualified (a 7.5 with a pulse) pretty young thing from evening to evening, I tend to stick it out at bars and turn them into my own. I can eventually thrive where others have failed. The primary reason is that I fucking hate looking for a new job whether it’s an office job or restaurant/bar gig. I despise it almost much as I hate looking for an apartment and moving. Job hunting and moving are two endeavors which cause me so much stress, that I’d rather contemplate smoking endless rocks from glowing, red-hot glass phallus.
675 Bar. It’s smack dab in the epicenter of bedlam, MPD (that’s The Meatpacking District for you uninitiated folks). 675 Bar is actually a neat little bar directly below Bill’s Burger. It has an eclectic scene most weeknights. It’s sandwiched between The Gansevoort and one of those chain, pseudo-Mexican spots – Dos Caminos. Ara, a local industry wine bar, is thrown in there too for good measure. Dos Caminos is right up there in quality and stature with The Olive Garden, in my not so humble opinion. They’ve spread to 4 or 5 locations all over Manhattan. I’d like to find the dude that leased Dos the space in MPD, in particular, and tie him to the 14th street F-train subway entrance on a 98 degree July day so he can “waft” in the subway’s finest, Summer aromas. Ok, ok… I jest somewhat. I’ve eaten at Dos (on Park Ave) a few times. The food is just fine, the cocktails yummy, and the overall experience: pretty good.
Interestingly enough, both 675 Bar and Dos Caminos are both BR Guest establishments. BR Guest is one of a couple of dozen, large scale, NYC-based hospitality management organizations that have proliferated in the last decade or two. Their properties also include fine spots like Strip House, Primehouse and Blue Water Grill. Sometimes they get it really right (read: Blue Water) and other times (as in the aforementioned Dos Caminos) err… not so much.
Anyway, Eben Klemm, BR Guests corporate – um – “mixologist,” (here we go again with the labels) dishes on Manhattans – shaken v. stirred. Me? I don’t give two craps about [temporary] cloudiness and tiny shards of ice that will dissolve in a minute anyway. I kind of like them – and I’m a life-long Bourbon/Manhattan aficionado. As I mentioned in a previous article, I’ll take my Manhattan extra cold – thank you. All else being equal, shaking will generally result in a colder cocktail.
Mr. Klemm gets the proportions correct, thankfully. He’s got a weird shake and uses a jigger, which simply won’t fly in busy spots, but whatever – those things may just be camera fodder. Bartenders need to be able to free pour those measurements like clockwork. If you watch the video, clearly he’s bent on pushing stirred. Just like Mr. Klemm, our buddy Doug, over at The Pegu Blog, is also adamant about stirring over shaking. I’m in the opposite camp.
What say you Kimosabe?
“Now I make almost six figures working 30 hours a week – so $1,500 to $2,000 per week [bartenders pool money and each take home a fair share]. I also have health insurance. I’m really lucky.
How did you get to that point?
I’ve had to pay my dues. In the Meatpacking District, employers wouldn’t even see people without three years of work experience, or without three really strong references.”
Well, the eagle has landed. I’ve got a new gig in one of New York’s uber-busy and desirable destinations – The Meatpacking District. For those not in the know, there are very few actual meat processing facilities there. Rather, it’s a trendy bar/restaurant/lounge/hotel “scene.” The area has a storied history dating back to a time when – yes – it was a dingy/dirty/stinky meat processing, warehouse infested, blue-collar industrial strip. An elevated railroad ran through the West Side, beginning in MPD in order to deliver pre-processed carcasses as well as to ship out post-processed meat products. Though the train ceased all operations decades ago, alongside the exodus of most meat processing facilities, the elevated tracks remained and have been famously turned into the urban oasis called the Hi-Line.