By Sammi Baum
The Stewart brothers grew up in the same house, and now they’re working be hind the same bar. Born into the business (their dad owns Bar35 and eleven44), these bartending brothers mix drinks together at Chinatown’s eleven44.
Zack, the youngest, prides himself on charming customers with his charisma, while the more reserved Tai works diligently to be the best bartender of your night. Although different, they have one thing in common: Each has a knack for creating tasty beverages.
The brothers recently shared some secret, behind-the-bar details.
Barkeep: What’s the best way to get a bartender’s attention?
Zack: Best way to get a bartender’s attention is eye contact and patience. Once you’ve made eye contact, they know that you need to be served and will get to you as soon as they can. Waving money and yelling doesn’t work.
Tai: Cash in hand and make eye contact, I’ll be right with you.
BK: What is your favorite drink to make?
Z: My favorite drink to make is an eleven44 signature drink called the French Cadillac. Many places will serve this drink, but ours is made with only fresh juice and top shelf liquors.
T: Old Fashioned. Big Don Draper fan and an even bigger fan of bourbon.
BK: What about the least favorite?
Z: I don’t really have a least favorite, but if I had to say one, it would be any version of a Long Island Iced Tea. The reason being is that people who get them just want to get really drunk, and contrary to popular belief, that is not our job.
T: Long Island Iced Tea, because it’s a Long Island Iced Tea.
BK: What got you started in this business, and why?
T: Dad owned Bar 35 and now eleven44. We started as bar-backs and then worked our way up to bartenders. Bartending for five years.
Z: When I was younger, I was very shy and didn’t talk very much. I had always wanted to be more social and outgoing, so when the opportunity to bartend arose, I jumped on it.
BK: What is the craziest scenario you’ve been a part of thus far?
Z: I’d say after-work parties can get pretty crazy.
BK: What do you mean?
Z: They usually escalate pretty quickly. Most bar industry people know how to party, so when you put them all into a room together after a stressful night, surprising things happen. One thing leads to another. Next thing you know, you’ve got body shots lined up on the bar, the music is louder than it was when you were open, people are dancing … We’ve had parties that start at 4 in the morning that don’t end until late afternoon.
BK: What is the worst thing a customer can do at the bar?
Z: There are a lot of things customers can do to make a bartender mad, but the worst is stiffing them.
T: Wait for me to come take your order, then not having your order ready, and then start asking your friends what they want.
BK: Do you get hit on often? And if you do, how do you respond? Do pick-up lines work?
Z: It depends; most bartenders will get hit on at some point or another while working. For me, pickup lines are usually funny, and humor is always a good way to start a conversation.
T: Occasionally. I’ll smile, laugh, lead them on, but (pick-up lines) usually don’t work.
BK: What’s the craziest cocktail you’ve been asked to make?
Z: People have all sorts of drinks they ask for that 99 percent of the world has never heard of or had before, but because the bar where they’re from makes it, they expect you to know it.
T: A Bear Knife F***.
BK: How do you handle a bad customer?
Z and T: Kill them with kindness.