Working in New York: ‘You can’t fake it here’

Story by Aaron Shuttleworth
Aaron is a Sydney-raised bartender with stints at Gardel’s Bar, Palmer & Co. and Foley Lane/Casoni among others. Currently residing in NYC and working at The NoMad. Advocate of all things Sherry. 

Globally as an industry we’re better than ever before. We are more knowledgeable, our service is of a higher standard and technically we can do things that our pioneers could only dream of. Yet New York and London are still viewed as the pinnacles, the hallowed ground and Promised Land. Big cities that give life to trends and shape the global scene. So what, if anything, makes a New York bartender different from one anywhere else?

The clientele moulds what we do. New York is the epicentre of the world and as a result can lay claim to having the most informed and demanding guests in the world. You’re aiming to give people who have seen it all before that ‘wow’ experience. You can’t fake it here and that makes you better.

From a technical standpoint this makes you faster and able to sort your drink orders in a more cohesive manner. When you’re getting rammed with predominately cocktails seven days a week, things like double stirring whilst shaking become second nature. The use of two jiggers in one hand (a 15/20 and a 30/60) is commonplace in good cocktail bars and makes a world of difference, even for those of us with the paws of a five year old midget.

The number and calibre of events going on is staggering. In a city more than double the size of Sydney you can find something every night of the week. In the summer it happens early week as everyone escapes to the closest beach on the weekends. Weekends ramp up as Fall and the impending cold snap approaches.


Tap takeovers, guest bartenders, Gary Regan putting his mitts in your Negroni at The Dead Rabbit… it’s all a regular night out in NYC.

Some new bars worth seeing on your next visit are Leyenda, Bar Goto and Mother of Pearl. They’ve been opened by big industry names (Ivy Mix, Kenta Goto and Jane Danger) in the last couple of months and all epitomise what NYC is about: high quality service, a great fit-out, and with people behind the stick who make you feel like you’re in their home. Being able to provide that quality of service in a super high volume environment is what it all comes down to. Sydney has a cheeky charm to its bars, and London has a high class elegance, whilst Hong Kong specialises in organised chaos; NYC brings all three together and rolls them up and smokes them for breakfast.

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