‘Hey Bartender’ Documentary Makes Its Connecticut Debut

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Steve Schneider, principal bartender at Employees Only and subject of the documentary film 'Hey Bartender.'  Photo by Bryan Smith/New York Daily News.
Steve Schneider, principal bartender at Employees Only and subject of the documentary film 'Hey Bartender.' Photo by Bryan Smith/New York Daily News.
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Documentary. Yeah, we know, probably all of you just yawned and are contemplating ditching this post, but hold on a sec. We recently got a sneak peak of a brand new documentary from 4thRow Films that was released just in May: Hey Bartender. It not only goes through a brief history of cocktails and their recent upsurge, but it also takes the viewer on a journey through the lives of two bartenders.

 

One of those bartenders is the amazing Steve Schneider, an ex-Marine turned bartender at the enormously popular and celebrated Employees Only cocktail bar in New York City. Plus he has an epic handlebar mustache. The other is Steve Carpentieri, or Carpi, as his customers and friends sometime call him. He’s the owner of Dunville’s in Westport, Connecticut.

 

Weaved into the story of both of these drink slingers is commentary from the top bartenders in the industry, including Jim Meehan of PDT in New York City, Dale DeGroff who started the modern cocktail movement at The Rainbow Room, Dushan Zaric of Employees Only, Julie Reiner of Flatiron Lounge, restaurateur Danny Meyers, and Sasha Petraske of Milk and Honey. It’s also an unabashed celebration of the awakening of bartending and cocktail culture across America.

 

As we watched, we couldn’t help but get wrapped up in Schneider’s quest to not only earn his Principal Bartender jacket, but to also help push Employees Only to the number one cocktail bar in the world. We won’t tell you what happens at the Spirited Awards ceremony during Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, though. And then there is Carpi from Dunville’s. Director Douglas Tirola paints a very grim picture of how Dunville’s and Steve are doing, cutting to scenes of empty bars, empty parking lots for a BBQ event, and Steve showing a foreclosure sign for his house. Although he realizes he needs a change to bring Dunville’s back to its former glory, he seems resistant to it and to thinking that cocktails are the way to go. The movie wraps up things perfectly for both stories and left us wanting to ditch our jobs and take up bartending.

 

This great liquor-fueled doc just wrapped its showing in Hartford at Real Art Ways Theater.  Check out the film’s Facebook page for more information on showings, and read the OmNomCT coverage of the Stamford premier of Hey Bartender here.

 

You’ll never see a bartender the same way again.

 

We’ll leave you with a piece of a statement from Tirola:

 

“I wanted to show how people view bartenders and how bartenders view themselves. What are bartenders’ dreams, aspirations; what goes through their minds as they make drinks and what they think about at the end of the night when they are on the way home by themselves?

 

I also wanted to articulate an understanding that having a working‐class job is something that cannot and should not be stereotyped. Working with your hands doesn’t mean you are limited by your intelligence, your education, your worldview or what you make over the course of your life. I think in movies we often view people who have jobs traditionally considered working class, like a bartender, as someone who had no other options, or as a result of some mistake or failure had this as a last, viable career choice. I wanted to show that people who work on their feet and with their hands everyday, or as I like to say, the sort of people who shower after work, can lead fulfilling lives and have successful careers. I think this portrayal of the working class is severely missing in contemporary films.”

 

 

 

This article was originally published on OmNomCT.

 

OmNomCT is an omnivorous couples perspective on all things om-nomable in lower Fairfield County, Connecticut. Follow them as they explore restaurants of all types to grocery stores to farmers markets.  Never pretentious, sometimes contentious, always honest.

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