Headed out tonight and in “on the scene?”
There’s another side to the nightlife equation and often rarely seen. While you’re going out, many others are going to work. They’re working to serve; they’ll never get enough praise for what they do and they’re often misunderstood. Some are even celebrities (at what they do).
Few positions are as misunderstood as the Head Bartender. These bottle-slingers are doing more than just pouring your drink. Part artisan and part manager, they’re conceiving of their next Summer cocktail and “dealing” with some not-so-sharp customers. You know the type.
I’ll order the “awkward,” please.
On this note (no pun intended) Grit Daily caught up with Josh Wolinsky, who leads the bar at Troy Liquor Bar, which leaves open the door to plenty of military analogies if you want to geek out on Greek mythology. So have at it.
Grit Daily: Not many people even get to see a Head Bartender. Where are you typically positioned before the onslaught of bar-goers approaches?
Josh Wolinsky: Being the “Head Bartender” in a place like Troy is like having survived multiple campaigns in a war. The only thing that separates me from the bartenders that came before is the fact I’m still standing. As for where I stand there’s a corner of the bar called “the point” where most of the mass of humanity will naturally gravitate to so that is the best place to be.
GD: Does the role really just mean you get blamed more?
JW: I wouldn’t say the role leads to more blame. From management to busboys we try to remain united. It’s a small staff and we genuinely rely on each other every second we work together so we succeed as a team and fail as a team. If anything the role means you can count on me. I’m not calling out, I’m always trying to do the job the right way, and I try to keep the vibe of staff upbeat. Which can be easier said than done on the more difficult of nights.
GD: For the uninitiated, what is the scoop on City Hall?
JW: City Hall was a live actions children show, amounting to the best sketch comedy group you never heard of. When you get a bunch of funny and talented people in a room the creativity is bonkers, but when not one of us has a lick of business sense or the ability to promote ourselves the end result is City Hall.
GD: What was your role over at “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia?”
JW: I had no role over at It’s Always Sunny, what you saw on my page was just a spec script.
GD: Thanks for clarifying. How do your contributions to comedy relate back to your work at Troy Liquor Bar?
JW: Being a comedian and being a bartender go hand in hand in a few ways. There’s obviously the performance aspect though we are certainly no flair bar, but being able to think on your feet and have a quick quip at the ready is always a plus. Not to mention having a thick skin and being able to handle a disappointed crowd, of which I am no stranger. By the way the disappointment in our clientele generally stems from the prices of our drinks, nothing I or any of the other staff does.
GD: What is a “liquor bar” anyway? How do you differentiate bar species?
JW: I may be speaking out of turn here, but it seems we specified that we are a liquor bar to manage the expectations of anyone looking for a milk bar, or a coffee bar, or a- you know what I have no idea. To me bar species are usually broken down into specialties: Whiskey bar, tequila bar, cocktail bar, wine bar etc.
GD: What’s one conventional wisdom about bartending that’s just plain wrong?
JW: That bartenders have a favorite drink. Most don’t have just one favorite and what we’re drinking at the moment is dictated by any number of factors: the weather, our mood, what we ate, when we ate etc. So asking a bartender their favorite drink is like asking a parent their favorite child. We love them all and also hate them all.
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