Who’s Behind the Bar?

If Jesus Christ was alive today, he would be a bartender. And he’d probably be a pretty good one; just think how quick he could fill those wine glasses.

Bartending is the most selfless profession there is. The waiter is a close second. But the waiter has the convenience of showing up later and leaving earlier than the bartender. Nuns might give up their lives, bodies, and souls for the love of Christ, but in return they’re asking to join him in the Kingdom of Heaven. If any of it is real, it’s a pretty fair exchange. You sacrifice X amount of years on earth for an infinite amount in a supposed paradise. I’d say that’s a pretty amazing return on investment.

But I’m not here to make a point about the clergy. I’d rather spend the time acknowledging what it’s like to really be a bartender. The psychology of those who chose to live their entire professional lives behind a wooden plateau, sandwiched in between bottles and drunkards is both unique and unexamined.

The bartender does a job that theoretically anybody with 2 hands could do. Theoretically, the job is in danger as automation and machinery continue to eat away at the humanity that keeps us away from the chimps.

But it won’t, because the bartender is more than just the mixing of different liquids into a cold glass. It’s more than just pouring a beer at the right angle so it doesn’t foam over.

Bartenders are as much a part of the restaurant business as the stools are. They’re more essential than the lighting. They are the intangible element over that tricky subject called ‘atmosphere’ that interior designers, psychologists, and restaurateurs are always trying to master. You can hang all the pretty plants and dim the lights just right, but if the schmuck behind the bar sucks, so does the whole operation.

I always wonder how other people end up in the role. I don’t remember anybody’s mom or dad coming into career day telling us about mixing martinis. I remember someone’s dad was in the music business on the copyright and licensing side. He was rich and he was unhappy. I remember someone’s dad was an insurance agent. I remember he was bored to tears. I remember someone else’s dad sold cologne. I remember he was gay.

For reasons I can’t understand, bartending is not a coveted position. It is without any cachet. It is something I felt awkward saying when asked, “what do you do?” My friends were all in sales, or insurance, or law, or medicine. I was in Hospitality.

I was quarterbacking at José Andrés’s place in New York City when Coronavirus gave us all a quick kick in the ass. It wasn’t until after I couldn’t go back behind the bar that I realized how important it was.

The people I’ve met behind the bar have all been vastly intelligent. They’re excellent speakers, confident, coordinated, knowledgeable in a myriad of fields from art to finance, and damn are they good sales people. If you can find a bartender that can actually convince people to drink Cynar, you’ve got a good one.

Sidenote: I really, really hate Cynar.

And then there’s that question: what’s a mixologist? When most people in this business hear that term they start to gag and roll their eyes so fucking hard they get a headache. But, in my opinion, there is a difference. 

My dad, for instance, was a bartender. He worked at dive bars for decades. I remember he once showed me how to make ‘ginger ale’ if you were ever out of it: “90% Sprite and a splash of Coke mixed together. Tastes just like it- they won’t know the difference.”

And he’s right. A 22-year old getting shitfaced in a half-rusted out saloon a few blocks off campus can’t tell the difference of ginger ale from a ginger cookie. And that’s bartending. Bartending is Coors light, Sterling’s Vodka, and Peach Schnapps. Bartending is anywhere between a vodka soda and a Mind Eraser.

So, Mixology is when fire and eggs start making their way behind the bar. It’s when suddenly emulsifiers, centrifuges, and acids start being included in the recipe. It’s when the garnishes go from thick wads of lemon to edible flowers and perfectly positioned juniper berries that better not fall off the lime wheel or there’ll be Hell to pay.

But does it matter?

Depends. Where the hell are we? Is it Saturday night out with the boys and we’re gearing up for the UFC fight? I don’t want a mezcal negroni with a half ounce of Montenegro and Cayenne infused Campari. I want a Miller lite.

But, then there’s those moments for feeling contemplative- those brilliant times at 4pm just before the rush gets in and we’re having the Raymond Chandler drink: nice and quiet; nice and quiet. And sure, I’ll take one of those infused spinoff-y drinks.

Then there’s the nice dinner with the in-laws, the sleek, shiny, new place that’s trying to do something different, and the dumb hipster that saw a cool instagram account about cocktails and wants to give it a shot.

So yeah, there’s the mixologist. They’re the people who invest in the craft and try to make it into an art. Few ever really do.

But who the Hell ends up behind the bar?

It’s strange, really. I’ve met people who forewent their engineering degrees to shake cocktails. I’ve met former and current teachers spending the summer vacation picking up tips. I’ve met the usual ‘actors,’ ‘writers,’ and creatives who fail to truthfully respond when prompted with ‘what do you do?’

But then who are the lifers? Who are the people that aren’t afraid to look the Accountant in the eye and confidently say, “I am a bartender?”

I guess there’s no one answer and to get an idea I’d have to embark on a totally different venture then the one I’m on.

But as I get started writing about what I do, what I enjoy doing, and what I enjoy learning, I’m stuck with 2 questions. The first is the name of this post. The second is, what brings us together more: food or alcohol?

Anthony Bourdain started Parts Unknown with a poignant, albeit simple introduction: “I write, I eat, and I am hungry for more.”

I’ll never be as cool as Tony; I’d never compare myself to the man for fear of knowing exactly how short I would fall. Even if we are both Italian Jews from New Jersey, nobody will ever have that great voice and that near-endless swagger. 

But I guess for as hungry as he was, I am as thirsty. Since 19, I’ve been behind bars professionally. Starting out in New Jersey and moving out to New York, I’ve learned more about humanity, psychology, finances, sports, media, entertainment, math, science, philosophy, and hygiene than all 4 years at Rutgers University. And that’s not a stab at the State University of New Jersey- it’s a testament to the profession.

I’ve been asking this question a lot lately: what brings people together more: food or alcohol? The people who answer food have the undeniable argument that everybody does eat. There’s no avoiding it. But, food can be exclusionary. How often are vegans at odds with their carnivorous counterparts? How often does my grandma break my balls about not keeping kosher? Why did gluten somehow become the grounds for civil unrest? 

Sure, there are quite literally billions of people who forego alcohol for religious testament and are still able to find community. But in the westernized world, when we show up to the wedding, the office party, the sweet 16, is it the trays of croquettes that lubricate the otherwise standoffish cohorts from one another? I don’t think so. For your high school friends to share a few laughs with your cousins and your colleagues, you’re gonna need the byproduct of yeast and sugar: sweet, wonderful, amazing alcohol. 

But I suppose like my other prompt, there’s no one evening of rambling and a few drinks to suffice an answer. For that, I’d have to begin a long journey. But perhaps this is the first step.

How many more times?




They say change is good. I don’t know who ‘they’ is, but I think they is right.

I don’t know how many times I’ve changed what I’ve wanted my website to be. First, it was just a blog for ramblings, some place to talk smack about people in class and shit on my high school, on the internet. It got me some notoriety, which I guess is a plus.

Then I was going to be a stand-up and I needed a ‘professional’ website for that- but is there anything professional about a guy that uses a profile picture of himself eating yogurt? Exactly.

But, we’re at a point now where people that were in my industry (food and wine) are sitting at home, collecting government checks with not much else to do. We’re all still employed, furloughed for an unknown period of time. Who ever thought we’d get to live in a sci-fi book?

There is hope, of course, when you sift through the tumultuous pile of news broadcasted by main stream media. Some say the curve is flattening. Some say certain things will open back up again. We are being careful. But- there is hope on the horizon.


Well, either way. Whether this lasts another 6 months or an entire year, my people have 1 thing for sure: time. Lots and lots of time.

We can’t go out. We can’t coordinate. We can’t explore but we can investigate.

As I wrote in my last piece of stream of consciousness blogging, I’ve taken this time to try and think about myself. How did I get where I was? A sommelier? A wine-buff? What happened that that 17-year old who wanted to be a writer? What about the 20-year old who wanted to be a stand-up?

I was always a creative- but I stopped creating and started intaking. Money was a factor- a pretty large one. But, how fortunate that, for the moment, it isn’t.

But- I’m getting carried away and distracted as I tend to. The thing is, I’m a writer, dammit. I forgot it. I really did.

But I’m back- and with that being said, I need my long-abandoned website, that extension of myself, to correlate with my intention. If I am to write, then let’s write.

“To begin, begin.” – William Wordsworth


Why this virus is good for us- or at least me

I can’t talk for anybody other than myself- but I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I’ve been looking at the thing for me to do. I guess some might call that purpose.

It must be so nice to be LeBron James or Lionel Messi because they had their path carved out for them when they were young. Especially Messi. I mean, how old was he when he was scooped up by Barcelona? 8? 10? Regardless- at a young age he was basically told “this is what you’re going to be doing for the rest of your life.”

Now he’s a legend. Now he’s rich as fuck.

But then there’s the rest of us. You hope that during your childhood you’re exposed to enough things that you can try. Ideally, you have a living situation with some family that can at least get you interested in other things.

But, I’m not here to blame my family. I think it was my fault getting so invested in video-games. After all, at the end of the day I was the one who decided to turn the thing on and press play.

But, I decided I wasn’t good at sports. I decided I didn’t like math. And what ended up happening was I found hospitality because I was good at being funny and making drinks. I was genuinely interested in wine and spirits. How could you not be? They’re easy to understand- at least in a sense.

Anybody can become a sommelier. It’s true.

The great thing about it is, if you can commit to it, you can go far. If you can immerse yourself in notecards about French regions and Californian varietals and the differences between hot and cold climates, you can go far. Master Sommeliers make equal amounts to lawyers.

And that was the path I was on. I was obsessed. I was studying day in and day out. Ask me about a trocken spatburgunder from the Pfalz. Do it. I dare you.

But then this virus came along and forced me into my apartment for weeks and had me thinking- well, it had me worried. What will this do to my career? Is this even something I want to continue? Hospitality… it was such an important part of our society. But, it’s not essential. Actually, it’s detrimental since gathering an abundance of people in small areas (bars and restaurants) can only further worsen our current state.

So where does this leave me?

The mind wanders. You contemplate other career options. Today, I thought about going to Law School- which I had previously done in the past. I thought about it and my girlfriend assured me I’d be good at it. But there’s much uncertainty.

Sure, the pay is outstanding. Sure, the job would even be considered ‘essential’ in times of crisis. Sure, it would allot me some cachet amongst the rest of the world.

But would I like wearing a suit 5 days a week and being stuck in an office? Would I be able to handle the pressure of writing up legal documents for cases I didn’t care about?

Oh no- your wife is boring so you want a divorce. Let me get right on that- it’s just $400 an hour.

Hey, the positives are all there- the money and the stability. But, would I like it? The only experience I had working in a law office was… subpar to say the least. I was a receptionist- but still. I saw their faces. I remember watching the office gather around with paper plates and plastic forks to eat the stale, shitty cake for someone’s birthday.

Yes, it was a real thing and yes, it was horrifying.

So, after some long conversations and deep reflecting, I thought about what I wanted to do before all of this. Before the pandemic. Before the sommelier flash cards.

I wanted to be a writer. I think I forgot about that. I think I liked wine because it was evidence that there really is a need for all those words. How else can you describe a Chateaneuf du Pape without going on endlessly?

So, it looks like I have a lot of time. Nothing but.

I guess I’ll go back to work now. I just wanted to put this out there.


Why the Game of Thrones Ending was Actually Good and All of You are Just Fucking Stupid

So I know that usually when I make a post with a title this long, it usually is a farce and I just write a sentence that says the exact opposite.

But, as someone who feels very passionately about this, I actually just want to come at all the h8ters that don’t get it. Sit down, and have a read at the words I believe. Also, if you’re not aware, there’s going to be some spoilers in this.


Here’s the first spoiler. It’s on a Scion. Who the fuck drives Scions? Koreans.

Anyway, first let’s address my favorite criticism:

  1. “wHy Was jOn SnOw eVEn a TaRGAreyaN?”


How about the fact that Drogon didn’t just LIGHT HIS ASS UP?! Drogon murks everything he wants: people, horses, naval fleets, chairs, whatever! You know why he didn’t just yeet Jon after seeing Danny lying there bleeding to death? Because HE was a Targaryen.

I don’t know if its the Force or Hindu Karma energy, but dragons can tell when their own blood is around. That’s why Jon was able to fly the other dragon- WHICH BY THE WAY IS ONE OF THE REASONS WHY THE NORTH SURVIVED THE FUCKING ATTACK FROM THE WHITE WALKERS.

And let’s not forget, His being a Targ also drove Danny into Madness. She lost her advisors, her friends, and now even the bomb dick she was getting isn’t with her anymore, because it turns out that they’re related.

I get it though- people are upset that Jon’s familial heritage didn’t result in his sitting on the Iron Throne.

Which leads to the second criticism:

2. Why did Jon Snow just dip and head to the north?

It’s like- have you been watching the show? Have you? Jon doesn’t care about titles or about power. He just wants whats right. When he was a young 17 year old lad at the beginning of the show, he CHOSE to leave society and the chase for power, for women, or for money and wanted to just roam in the North.

It’s what he truly always wanted: from making allies with the Wildlings, finding his first love Ingrid, and being best buds with Tormund and his Giant’s Titty milk drinking ways.

It’s the best end for him and if you think otherwise, you’re a stupid bitch.

3. Why did Arya decided to become Christopher Columbus?

What else was she gonna do? The known world is at peace and not in need of shadow assassins; plus let’s not forget that her list is finished and nothing is left for her in this current world.

And as for sticking around with Gendry and becoming a lady? We always knew that life wasn’t for Arya- as early as Season 1 when Ned sat her down and Arya looked up and said, “that bitchass life knitting and shit AIN’T for me homie. I’m finna fuck around and murk some people.” Beautiful writing from George R. R. Martin.

4. Bran is the king????

Yeah! Yeah he IS the king. Why does that make sense? Maybe because he literally knows everything that’s ever happened from the beginning of time? Hey here’s an idea: when a king has a question about “what should I do in this situation,” wouldn’t it be amazing if they could literally go back in time to when someone had the same issue and see how they handled it?

Like, wouldn’t it be great if Donald Trump could read? It would be. It would be so awesome if our president picked up a book or could form thoughtful sentences. Wouldn’t it be even MORE awesome if he could make educated, informed decisions based off the experiences of others? That’s why Bran is a perfect King.

He also had a similar sincerity as Jon, in that he originally really had no intention of seeking the Throne. He just wanted to stop the White Walkers and save humanity.

At the end, when Bran says ‘why do you think I came all this way,’ he’s not saying he came this far because he was vying for power and the title of King. He came all this way because he knows that he is the best choice for King.

Let’s also not forget that now because we’re throwing away the old system of family lineage and houses, Jon has no claim to the throne and isn’t as qualified to lead the kingdoms as someone who has no working legs and can see into the past or control animals with his brain.

Honestly, I liked the season. I liked the ending, I liked the show, I don’t like you, you whiney little millennial that wants everything to work out the way YOU want it to. You can go fuck yourself and cry into your participation trophy collection.

I leave you all now with one last spoiler:



For All My Friends Graduating

It’s almost midnight immediately following episode 4 of Game of Thrones and after about 3 glasses of Jameson and 2 Parliaments, I’m composed enough to write a post after a brief 3 month hiatus. Also I needed spell check to write ‘hiatus,’ properly, so this should be a fun one.

Anyway, I know graduation has already happened for some of my friends, and for many more the big day is only a few days or weeks away and I just wanted to toss up my thoughts on some advice for those about to experience their transition into the world without homework, group projects, or keg stands.

I’m almost a year out from when I walked the polyester gown path down graduation and while maybe I am not the most wise or experienced, I think because graduation day is so fresh in my memory, some of my half-drunken dribble might be worth reading.

Probably not.

  1. First off, it’s going to get hairy. It’s going to suck. There will be seemingly endless periods of discomfort, loneliness, fright, and exhaustion. But, it’s the best part of your life.

I know they said that college would be amazing, and that college would be the most fun part of your life. I know that watching Blue Mountain State made your blood rush and your throat thirsty for a 30 pack of Natural Light- or even worse, Keystone-

But I can assure you, post grad life full of decent tasting beer and alcohol is remarkably more enjoyable. And being able to spend more than 15 dollars a night on a tab is also pretty nice.

I’ll admit though, I still long for the fact that Olde Queens was only about $2.50 for a vodka Red Bull. That shit is at least $13 in New York, if you’re lucky.

On a serious note, after moving to New York City to do the stand-up thing, I was working a part time job at a bar in Chelsea and left that for an opportunity to bartend a full-time position at a new venue spearheaded by Tao Group.

After leaving my job and 3 long, long weeks of training on an intense cocktail, food, and wine menu, I was just about ready to start working there- I mean, I was literally on the schedule to start on a Saturday night. I was promised a minimum of 800 dollars a week after taxes (roughly 60k a year if you want to be annoying about it) and then suddenly, a wrong encounter with executive Kim Kurlanchik and I was suddenly out of a job.

With a previously scheduled vacation to Italy only a few weeks away, along with rent, utilities, food, car payments, and student loans, I could hardly breathe. I freaked out about paying my bills. I hated myself for leaving my original gig. I was pissed off that I came to the city in the first place.

I missed college; I missed the safety of home with mom and dad; I missed being careless and blacked out in Kelly’s, waking up the next morning next to someone? Sir? Who are you and how did you get here?

I was capital ‘F’ fucked and desperate. I had and have since never felt the level of anxiety that I did for those few weeks.

And then through the connections I had made, I was blessed with another amazing full-time opportunity working at New York City’s current most popular bar and restaurant group.

I won’t get into specifics, but the bills aren’t a concern (at least for the time being), and this time in my life has proven to be so far the most interesting and, undoubtedly, the most entertaining.

I’ve met countless people. I’ve seen things out in the city that would be front cover news in Jersey. I’ve had experiences I wouldn’t trade for a million dollars. And I guess that leads me to my next point of advice.

2. You’re going to fuck up and make massive, massive errors. Keep doing that.

I guess repeating what I had already said earlier, I thought that this whole plan of moving out to Brooklyn and pursuing a dream was a huge mistake once I let go of it. I thought I kept fucking up left and right and kept imagining what I’d have done differently if given the chance.

Thankfully I’m in the spot now that I can look back on those moments and laugh. I can breathe easy and smile at the choices I made. Did I make some mistakes? Undoubtedly. But in the end, I regret absolutely nothing.

Which leads me to my next point.

3. Don’t ever settle. Don’t ever lose sight of what you wanted to do. Don’t compromise, because you’ve only got one life to live.

Corny as Hell isn’t it? I’m sure a few blonde girls named Kelsey have something similar tattoo’d on their ribs and the instagram post has over 400 likes.

It’s cheesy and lame and horribly white girl. But, I guess it’s true. Whatever you told yourself you wanted to do: do it. Go for it. Give it %1,000,000,000.

For me, I put my soul into comedy. I was doing more mics a week than I could count. And it paid off. After just 2 and a half months of living in NYC, I was doing shows on fucking Broadway. And then I realized I was going too fast. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to commit to going out on the road, chasing gigs, and trying to achieve the unachievable.

I took a break and a step back to get myself together financially and residentially. If I choose to pick it up again, I will and this time I’ll have a better approach. For now, I’m so happy to be on the path that I’m on.

Truthfully, as long as I’m not locked up in some cubicle for 45 hours a week, I’m ecstatic. The only thing I ever truly feared was becoming some office cuck that was excited for the stale birthday cake in the conference room. It only took me one summer internship in a law office to realize that I never, ever wanted to live that life.

4. Remember your family; Remember your friends.

During my peril of ‘oh no what the fuck am I going to do,’ it was nice to think that in the absolute worst case scenario: I depleted all of the money in my savings and no possessions or anywhere to go, I could always crash with/rely on my family.

Whether its mom or dad, aunt or uncle, cousin or best friend, I knew that I had a network of people that were there for me. And though I was hell bent on NOT, crashing on my uncle’s couch, it was nice to know that if I really, really needed it, it was there.

So, be good to them. Send your grandma nice stuff and call your fucking mom you soulless piece of shit. She loves you and you wouldn’t exist without her. Seriously. Stop reading this and just tell your mom you love her. You cunt.

5. Listen to new music and new ideas.

College is over but that doesn’t mean learning is. Constantly look for more information and more knowledge because it’s the 1 thing that separates us from those shit-slinging Chimpanzees that eat each other starting with the genitalia.

Seriously, by the way, that’s a real thing- you can watch YouTube videos of those crazy fuckers.

I highly recommend podcasts like RadioLab or the Joe Rogan Experience to listen to new information and new ideas on your commute to wherever it is your going. As for music, the Frat parties are over and you don’t need to listen to the same 15 songs that everyone else is listening to. Find some stuff that’s different- that’s out there.

I like Lost Dog Street Band, Okeydokey, and Still Woozy. There’s millions more.

6. Resveratrol and exercise. Sauna too, I think.

My last piece of advice. 500 milligrams of Resveratrol every morning. Workout as often as you can. Get in the sauna immediately after.

There are insane, innumerable health benefits to this and since you only get 1 life, it’s probably in your best interest to try and be as healthy and good looking as you can be in it.

That’s it. I know it’s a lot more and a lot deeper than you thought I’d go here on this site, but what can I tell you? A few glasses of Jameson and I won’t shut the fuck up.

I leave you now with a picture of the man whose taught me more than any 1 professor or teacher in my entire life.




I would also like to wish a sincere Congratulations to the class of 2019.