Each week, we dive into the world of NYC bars and meet the drink-shaking players behind them. From the latest cocktailing trends to crazy stories on the job, these are the Bartender Tales of New York City.
Giuseppe González, owner-bartender, Suffolk Arms
What is your signature drink?
One of my favorites is the Tough Room. I wanted to make a cocktail that would float over a Guinness while still having that dramatic aesthetic with the different colors. So, we make a traditional whiskey sour and then run it through a blender so that the egg white gets fluffy and floats up. It’s poured into a beer glass and comes out as a beautiful black-and-white cocktail and beer in one. When I imagined it, I didn’t think it was going to come out as cool as it does.
How did you get into bartending?
My father and my grandfather were both bartenders, so I grew up in the business. I went to college for a degree in neuroscience, actually, but then I realized I hated everything about it. I’m not a 9-to-5 person. I’d always wanted to open my own bar. Back then, I envisioned being at an old pub, like Sam Malone from Cheers. The dream’s evolved since then.
What’s your favorite thing about bartending?
I love talking about cocktails—man, I fucking love it. It reminds me of high school, when I used to get straight A’s and people picked on me for giving a shit. Being a nerd is cool, giving a shit is cool, and Star Wars is cool.
Have you noticed any trends in the cocktail industry lately?
One thing I’ve definitely noticed is that a lot of my peers, we’re owning our own bars. There’s Kenta [Goto] at Bar Goto, Joaquín [Simó] at Pouring Ribbons and Ivy [Mix] at Leyenda. We all used to just hang out, and now we have our own places.
What’s your biggest customer pet peeve?
When I see a young bartender get mad about a bad tip or something, I tell them it always balances out. So if you get zero tip here, someone else will give you $100. I serve maybe 2,000 or 3,000 people a week, so I don’t worry about the five or six who might just be dicks.
Have any crazy bar stories?
Another bartender and I had a bet to see who could work the most consecutive shifts in a row. So the shifts start at 7pm, and we work until 4am and then sleep all day. I hit 12 days in a row. Imagine going 12 days without seeing any sun in New York.
Photograph: Oleg March