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A spirited vocation with a twist HBO director shares film on lives in elite cocktail culture

Posted on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 12:27 pm


NYC bartender Steve Schneider co-stars in “Hey Bartender,” a documentary on the growing cocktail culture.

John Coffelt
Staff Writer

Nashville’s cultural Belcourt Theater will hold its second screening Tuesday of “Hey Bartender,” a documentary that, in part, follows ex-Marine Steve Schneider who worked his way to becoming a top New York bartender.

Director Douglas Tirola, of HBO documentary’s “An Omar Broadway” film and the award winning “All in – The Poker Movie” discussed the project with the Times via phone.

“It’s a spotlight on people who have chosen bartending as a profession,” Tirola said. “The story is being a bartender in the era of the cocktail.”

Tirola said that just as a food culture has emerged over the last 10-15 years, cocktail culture has followed suit.

He tells the story of two up-and-coming bartenders who are overcoming personal setbacks to make it.

Steve Schneider, 29, was a U.S. Marine on his way to Afghanistan and a promising military career when an accident and a severe head wound ended all of that.

Schneider, stationed in Washington D.C., takes a job as a bartender to make ends meet.

“He comes to New York and becomes basically an apprentice to a bartender,” Tirola said.

Schneider’s gung-ho attitude takes him from those humble beginnings to an award-wining bartender, featured in numerous shows and magazines and Zagat’s inaugural 30 under 30.

Conversely, Steve Carpentieri, or Carpi as he prefers to be called, was vice president of Citi Group when he quit to buy his hometown bar.

“He runs it for many years, and when the movie picks up the bar is no longer the it place in town and is trying to find its place in the world.

“We see his struggles in trying to bring his bar back to greatness.”

Tirola said that filming was a challenge because of the locations and the nature of the coming and going of a business.

“Working inside of so many bars, especially the two that the film focuses on, requires developing a special way of shooting. We had to develop a way of shooting that required no lights and allowed us to be agile and stay out of the way of what was happening, [but still] capture the action.”

The story is not just a look at risks, success and failures of some of the world’s most important bartenders and their bars, but “more specifically telling the story of the bartender through observation of two characters whose lives unfold in real time, right in front of the camera.”

Tirola tries to bring the audience to experience what it is like to be a bartender from the work, the process, the wet hands, cutting fruit, getting buckets of ice, mixing cocktails, stirring drinks, dealing with regulars, dealing with drunk guests, counting tips, getting more people to leave at the end of the night, all the way to that late meal by yourself at the diner.

Tirola said that his films have common elements of communities within community and people whom society often deems as living outside the norm.

“They’re trying to make their way doing something that your day-to-day, 9-to-5 person doesn’t look upon it fondly because it’s not considered a normal job.”

He said that often people who work in the restaurant industry are viewed with certain stereotypes.

“In a lot of ways, the movie is trying to say is that hey, just because somebody is a bartender, is way in on their intellect or their ability to make money it just means that they have chosen this for a career.”

“Hey Bartender” had a limited showing at the Belcourt Theatre in Nashville. Last minute shows Tuesday are at 5:15 and 9 p.m.

For pricing and more information on the not for profit Belcourt Theater, go to or call (615) 383-9140. 

Crafting the perfect cocktail


On Holiday

by Steve Schneider

New York City’s Employees Only


§ 1 ½ oz Hendrick’s gin

§ ½ oz simple syrup

§ 1 oz lemon juice

§ ½ oz Lillet blanc

§ 1 pinch basil

§ club soda


Add ingredients (except soda) to a mixing glass. Add ice, shake, and fine‐strain over ice into a tall Tom Collins glass. Top with club soda, stir, and ornament with a basil leaf and a cucumber slice

Watermelon & Blood Orange Habanero Margarita

Stephen Carpentieri Westport, Conn.’s Dunville’s Bar


§ 2 oz Milagro Reposado tequila

§ 1 oz Solerno blood orange liqueur

§ ¾ oz fresh lime juice

§ ½ oz habanero infused simple syrup

§ 4 cubes fresh watermelon


For garnish, use 1 slice of jalapeno, 1 cube of watermelon, and 1 lime wedge. In a mixing glass, muddle watermelon, lime juice and simple syrup. Add Milagro reposado tequila and Solerno blood orange liqueur and ice. Hard shake and strain over fresh ice. Salted rim is optional.

Simple syrup ‐ In a sauce pan bring 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar to a boil. Stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and add one habanero pepper cut it half. Simmer for approximately 15 minutes. Strain to remove pepper and chill. For a little less spice, simmer for approximately 7 minutes, remove pepper and continue to reduce for another 8 minutes.


Rusty Grail

Jim Meehan



§ ½ oz Balvenie 14-Year-Old Caribbean Cask Scotch whisky

§ ¾ oz fresh pineapple juice

§ ½ oz Smith & Cross Jamaican rum

§ ½ oz Drambuie

§ ½ oz fresh lemon juice

§ 2 dashes Regans’ orange bitters


Shake with ice and strain into a Pernod and allspice dram rinsed old fashioned glass.

Garnish with an orange peel spiked with three whole cloves

The Fitzgerald

Dale DeGroff

King Cocktail


§ 1 ½ oz Hendrick’s gin

§ 1 oz simple syrup

§ ¾ oz fresh lemon juice

§ 2 dashes Dale DeGroff’s pimento bitters

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into an old fashioned glass. Garnish with a lemon wedge


The Summer Cup

Charlotte Voisey

Portfolio Ambassador, William Grant & Sons


§ 1 ½ oz Hendrick’s gin

§ ½ oz Rhubarb Tea liqueur

§ ¾ oz fresh lemon juice

§ ¾ oz simple syrup

§ 3 muddled strawberries

§ 2 oz ginger beer

Shake. Strain over ice. Top with ginger beer. Garnish with cucumber and mint.



Dushan Zaric,

NYC’s Employees Only and Macao Trading Co.


§ 4 watermelon pieces, one‐by‐two‐inch chunks

§ ¾ oz simple syrup

§ 1 ½ oz Hendrick’s gin

§ ½ oz fresh‐squeezed lemon juice

§ ½ oz Campari


Muddle the watermelon and simple syrup in the bottom of a mixing glass until all the fruit has turned into juice.

Then add the rest of the ingredients and fill up glass with five large ice cubes. Shake briefly, and pour unstrained into a tall Tom Collins glass. Garnish with a piece of watermelon with rind


Maria Sin Sangre

Julie Reiner

NYC’s  Flatiron Lounge and Clover Club


§ ½ oz Lemon juice

§ ½ oz Dry Sack Sherry

§ 2 oz Milagro Silver Tequila

§ Salt & Pepper (a pinch)


Muddle 6 basil leaves and 5 small cherry tomatoes in ½ oz Simple syrup. Shake and fine strain into a coupe or martini glass. Garnish: cherry tomato and basil