“You don’t find the industry, the industry finds you.” -Steve Schneider
Those were just some of the inspiring words from the cast of the new film Hey Bartender at the screening event held at the Park Avenue Screening Room. Hey Bartender is a documentary representing the era of the craft cocktail and gives viewers a new sense of who their bartenders really are, all while following these incredible people on their journey through this tough but artistic lifestyle. I know that after viewing this movie I had a new found respect for my bartending crew. This film takes us through the early days of cocktails, the people who inspired its creativity, and the process necessary to become a truly gifted craft bartender. It draws you into the real life of living and breathing this industry and the passion responsible for the wonderful and creative cocktails we now get to enjoy.
One of the main characters in the film is Steve Schneider, bartender, at the NYC hotspot Employees Only. Steve is friendly, outgoing, and one of the great bartenders at Employees Only, a speakeasy style bar that caters to the restaurant and hospitality working lifestyle. The dedication of the staff at Employees Only led them to winning Best Cocktail Bar in the World while at the Tales of the Cocktail event in Louisiana. This was not only an incredible honor for the owners, but for the staff as well, and when I had asked Steve how he felt when winning this prestigious title, his humorous response was, “I wish I wasn’t so drunk.” At least he’s honest, right? Steve was not only mixing a Whiskey Smash cocktail for the guests at the screening, but played himself in one of the main roles in the movie. Guests were able to watch his journey from military life to injury to becoming Employees Only new Principal Bartender! He worked his way up the ladder for years from apprentice to principal and his dedication paid off.
Steve “Carpi” Carpentieri, an Owner/Bartender at Dunville’s in Westport, CT, was another main character in the film. His passion for his neighborhood bar “where everyone is family” shined throughout the entire movie. You watch as his character goes through the struggle of trying to take the bar from where it was, to the next level, to not only generate more revenue, but appeal to a wider range of clientele. He has succeeded in doing just that for his beloved bar and one can see the desire and perseverance at achieving his goal. Carpi served up an excellent cocktail for us after the show, highlighting his talent for the craft. He is charming and funny with a real passion for what he does.
Throughout the film other very talented bartenders pop in and out and explain their stories of how they got into the business. Many have college degrees from top schools with majors in anything but mixology, but the “industry found them” and they love what they do and are successful because of that. The characters in this documentary are real industry professionals who are dedicated to their work and have made this their profession. Many consumers of fine cocktails and fun-loving partyers still think bartending is not really a profession, but the skill and knowledge that it takes in order to be as talented as these master creators is. Mixology is a talent and lifestyle that most would find difficult to achieve. It takes a certain type of person to be able to handle the rush of the bar, the consistently late hours, and the physical demand of the industry, all while continually concocting new and adventurous combinations to please the palate.
Hey Bartender will debut to the public in June of 2013 so be sure to check it out. I know I’ll be watching it again with a delicious cocktail in hand.