I have experience as a barback and also have a bartending license I would mind starting as a barback.
Best jobs: Dram
Where the mixologists have a relaxed camaraderie.
Mon Aug 2 2010
Photographs: Lizz Kuehl
Williamsburg's four-month-old cocktail bar Dram has already gained a reputation as a haven for the city's most discerning drinkers, and on any given night, you'll probably find several skilled mixologists perched on the tiki-style bar stools alongside the modish, skinny-jeans-clad clientele. While the bar prides itself on serving serious concoctions—"bartender's choice" cocktails are tailor-made to customers' personal tastes, juices are fresh-squeezed daily, and ice is hand-carved—the bartenders like to foster an atmosphere of relaxed camaraderie. "The staff [ideally] gets one shift drink," explains owner Tom Chadwick, and that doesn't include shots that generous customers occasionally buy for employees. But in keeping with the air of laid-back refinery, this is not a place to overdo things, and most drinkers limit their imbibing to one or two beverages; Chadwick and his team see the rare hammered customer only "about once a month, late night, on weekends," he says. "We escort them out in the least confrontational manner possible."
When we visited recently, barkeep Nicolas de Soto, who previously tended bar at the Experimental Cocktail Club in Paris, was in a bind because that night's barback, Jeff Hazell, was delayed. Luckily, another cocktail maven happened to be hanging out: Toby Maloney, who formerly worked at Milk & Honey and just opened the Randolph at Broome. Maloney had no trouble coming to the rescue and chipping in behind the bar. "There's something called a shaker face, and it's just like an 'O' face," he says. "It's the really intense face that people make when they're doing it right."
Wanna work here?
Start out as a barback; you'll need extensive mixology experience to bartend.
Employees who have left: 0
Average number of people working per night: 2--4
Average number of drinks served per night: 160
Bar fights: 1. "We had a minor incident last [week], and it was diffused successfully."—Tom Chadwick, owner.
Times the staff has had to ask someone to leave: "About once a month a situation arises wherein someone isn't handling their booze well, or they come in a bit too hammered and a bit too aggressive," says owner Tom Chadwick. "We always get them a cab or make sure we escort them out in the least confrontational manner possible. You never want to embarrass or directly confront someone in that state."