September 12th, 2008
If you walk into Eastern Standard next week and wonder who that new kid is behind the bar, count your blessings. His name is Daniel Eun, and he works at PDT (Please Don’t Tell), a speakeasy-style cocktail bar in lower Manhattan. And if you’re wondering where Eastern Standard’s sweet-faced Kevin Martin is, don’t worry. He’s shaking up a few ES cocktails down at PDT. Yep, it’s a bartender exchange.
Jackson Cannon, bar manager at ES, and Jim Meehan, owner of PDT, are sending these two talented, young emissaries to each other’s bars for three nights: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. At PDT, Kevin will greet a clientele of in-the-know cocktail enthusiasts who enter the bar by ringing a bell on the wall of a phone booth inside a hotdog joint. At Eastern Standard, Daniel will tend to a sprawling mix of cocktail enthusiasts, businesspeople, baseball fans and tourists who enter the place through a clearly marked entrance in bustling Kenmore Square. Both bartenders will bring with them an abridged menu of drinks from their own bars. I, for one, am looking forward to meeting Daniel and ordering one of his cocktails. “He’s pretty feisty, they say. Young and gung-ho,” says Cannon.
Despite the two establishments’ differences, Cannon says that “bars are supposed to be like kitchens — there’s a common language. We’re putting that hypothesis to the test.”
The mastermind behind the bartender exchange is another NYC mixologist, Philip Ward of Death & Co. He helps coordinate the exchanges along with Rob Cooper, distiller of St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, who as a goodwill gesture provides a small stipend to the bartenders for travel and lodging expenses. These two guys got wind of a “shot war” between Boston and New York bartenders who attended Tales of the Cocktail this year (the only war in which shots of Grey Goose are considered an attack), and figured they might as well nurture that rivalry. Good luck, Kevin and Daniel.