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P R E fa c E t h E d a i ly g R i n d Thus a man’s work is one of the things by which he is judged, and certainly one of the more significant things by which he judges himself. —Everett Cherrington Hughes1 The subway is never too crowded when Joaquin goes to and from work.2 A bartender by trade, Joaquin, 29, works at Death & Co., one of the most popular cocktail bars in New York City. His shift runs from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays, but he arrives a couple of hours before the bar opens, and leaves an hour or so after last call (sometimes stopping at another cocktail bar nearby for a nightcap or two before heading home). So he commutes to work in the late afternoon and returns home around 3 a.m., waiting bleary-eyed on a near-empty platform for the F train back to Brooklyn. But the hours are worth it to make and serve cocktails for a living. “I walk into work feeling good, I walk out of work feeling way better. Tired as hell, but it’s a satisfying tired. I sleep well.” Born in Ecuador, raised in Miami, and educated at Boston University, Joaquin moved to New York City in 2005, at the age of 27. Uncertain of his career path, he started bartending to pay the bills, as he did after college. After early stints at beer and shot joints, he moved on to places where the quality of the drinks only sometimes mattered, until he got his job at Death & Co. This Friday Joaquin wakes up around noon, gets out of bed, and spends a couple of hours trolling various food and drink websites and blogs to stay abreast of the latest trends. Today he is most interested in learning about new ingredients that chefs are using, for inspiration. Last month, Joaquin worked at a dinner for a supper club and paired five cocktails with five courses. The next month’s dinner sold out quickly. “So now I know the pressure’s on, and I gotta do it better,” he says. Joaquin understands his role behind the bar to be like a performance on a stage. He waits to shower and shave until just before he leaves for work, ‹ xii › P r e f A c e to look as fresh and awake as possible. Light-skinned with light brown hair, he maintains a fashionable amount of stubble. Wearing blue-gray pants with cuffs rolled just above the ankle, boat shoes, and a white V-neck t-shirt, Joaquin walks from the sunny downtown streets of the East Village into the windowless bar. He goes downstairs to change into his work clothes: a buttondown dress shirt, tie, vest, arm garters, slacks, and dress shoes. In uniform, he checks himself in the mirror to make sure everything is on just right. He ties on an apron and starts prepping the backbar by filling bins with five different varieties of ice, juicing lemons and limes by hand, and making sure the dozen or so bitters bottles the bar uses are full. By 6, he is ready for his audience. The tiny town of Gardiner, in Ulster County, is a two-hour drive north of New York City. Along with the natural beauty of the mid–Hudson Valley region, one of the town’s attractions is Tuthilltown Spirits, on the site of a historic landmark gristmill, which turned grain into flour for over two hundred years with waterpower from the Shawangunk Kill. The distillery is down a short, dead-end dirt path off Tuthilltown Road called Grist Mill Lane. Ralph, the company’s co-owner, purchased the property in 2001, and with his partner, Brian, renovated the two granaries into a craft distillery operation and a rickhouse , or a warehouse for storing whiskey barrels as their contents slowly age. In addition to the converted granaries, Ralph’s house, some storage facilities , and a port-a-potty, the property consists of a large field with patches of overgrown grass. The people at Tuthilltown are considering growing crops (heirloom varieties of apple, corn, and rye) for making spirits. For now, some of its employees use the field for recreational camping over the summer. Their rent is to mow the grass. Liam wakes up in his teepee at the break of dawn. He puts on a pair of thick khaki-colored...


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MARC Record
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