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Bartender Tales: Meaghan Dorman of Dear Irving, Raines Law Room and the Bennett

Meaghan Dorman
Photograph: Andrew Kist Meaghan Dorman

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.

Meaghan Dorman, bar director, Dear Irving, Raines Law Room and the Bennett

What’s your signature drink?
Probably the Wildest Redhead. I came up with it when I was doing a consulting project at Lantern’s Keep. I found a boring drink called the Wild Redhead, but it had such a good name that I couldn’t let it go. So I made a Scotch version that’s very comforting and is also a crowd-pleaser. It has blended Scotch, lemon honey, allspice and Cherry Heering.

What’s your favorite thing about being a bartender?
It’s always different every day, so it keeps things interesting. It’s a fun outlet to be creative and social while you’re at work.

How did you get into bartending?
In Connecticut, when you turn 18, you can start bartending, so my friend got me a job at a sports bar called TK’s American Cafe [Editor’s note: actual name], where I could make money without having to put in too many hours.

You just opened a new bar, but you’re still working at your three others—both locations of Raines Law Room and Dear Irving. How do you juggle all of them?
I have two actual bartending shifts a week, and then the rest of the time, I’m visiting each of the bars for a few hours to make sure the staff is prepared and that the drinks are being made right.

Have you noticed any bar trends lately?
Old Fashioneds and variations of it. I think people rediscovered the drink with Mad Men, and bartenders riff on it all the time when they want to make a spirits-forward cocktail. I’ve also noticed salt in drinks, adding that savory element that three or five years ago wasn’t as popular. We do a chili salt at The Bennett and a coffee salt at Dear Irving.

Do you have any customer pet peeves?
When guests say, “I only like to go to the bar when you’re working,” it makes me worried that something’s wrong when I’m not there!

Have any crazy bar stories?
Once, a guy told us he was going to propose to his girlfriend. We asked if he had the ring and he said “No, I’m just going to go for it” and we were like, “Alright, we’ll support you and make this happen.” She ended up saying yes, and he was so happy that he tried to buy champagne for everyone at the bar. But his card got declined—it was pretty uncomfortable.

The BennettPhotograph: Paul Wagtouicz

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