How to be a craft bartender

Tom Chadwick, owner, [node:126102 link=Dram;].



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Tom Chadwick of Dram

Tom Chadwick of Dram Photograph: Jolie Ruben

Former profession: Commercial fisherman, building manager

Making the switch: A sunken ship was Chadwick's unlikely motivator for moving to NYC from New Jersey in 2002. When a bad storm claimed the fifth-generation clammer's commercial fishing boat, he seized the moment to join his future wife, a photographer and imaging specialist at the Metropolitan Museum, in the city. Around that time, New York's cocktail renaissance was just gaining steam as places like Milk & Honey (2000) and the Flatiron Lounge (2003) opened their doors. While working different odd jobs (delivering restaurant supplies, building movie sets), Chadwick "nerded out" by immersing himself in books like Gary Regan's Joy of Mixology and Dale Degroff's Craft of the Cocktail. He boned up on behind-the-stick basics with a five-year stint at dive bar Bushwick Country Club as he looked for his own space. As luck would have it, he found one—in the Williamsburg structure where he worked as a building manager. The landlord gave him dibs on the ground-floor space (it formerly housed Zak Pelaccio's Chickenbone Caf). Dram opened there in 2010 and has since established itself as one of the country's best new bars.

Word to the wise: "Start out as a bar back. Try as many positions in the industry as possible to learn the backbone and infrastructure of service."

Get your feet wet: The Astor Center's three-class series Mixology Bootcamp: Stirred and Strong covers all the basics of mixing drinks. 399 Lafayette St at 4th St (212-674-7501; Sept 19, 6:30--8:30pm; $77.50.

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