The bartender at Ardesia talks about wine, the French, and how to seem sophisticated.
510 W. 52nd Street, New York
So tell me about this cocktail, the Etre en Verve.
You know, everyone comes in and says, "I love Lillet." We wanted to create a Lillet cocktail that was refreshing and bubbly, not too sweet or syrupy. So we added the grapefruit bitters and then lemon to make it a little more tart.
It's a classy wine drink to have on a late-summer day.
Well, we wanted to stay away from sangria or any "all-you-can drink" type cocktail. You know, you've seen those disastrous brunches. I've participated in them myself.
What's a good drink to send over to a pretty girl in a wine bar?
Well, this one, the Etre en Verve, is actually quite appropriate, and I'll tell you why. You pronounced the name very beautifully, but I don't speak French well. Only un petit peu. The name translates to mean "to be in sparkling form." But en francais, apparently, it has a slightly dirtier meaning — it means that you're ready to go. Or, um, in the mood.
Sure. So this one could be quite the ticket. It might make for a very memorable weekend.
Well, isn't that what we all want when we come to the bar?
Where has this interview gone?
I like where it's going! You're an attractive man — has anyone ever gone out of their way to pick you up while you're working?
No, that actually hasn't happened.
Are you just oblivious because you're working too hard?
I've talked to a couple female bartenders, and they say male bartenders get all the numbers.
Well, it's happened in a couple of other places. For some reason women feel like they can get with the male bartenders.
Maybe that happens less here because this isn’t a "let's get shots" type of place.
Yeah, we mostly get our regulars here, who we can just chat with.
If I come in here on a date, what's the best kind of wine or cocktail to set the mood?
Nothing with mint, because it will get in your teeth. If you want to seem really sophisticated, but you aren't really —
I do, and I'm not.
Then you should get The Bitter Truth. It's in a nice martini glass with olives, and it's got that sophisticated air to it.
I'm always the one ordering a glass of white wine when the Nerve staff goes out drinking, and I get sassed relentlessly. What's the sexiest thing about white wine?
White wine is totally not boring. It gets a bad rap for being simple, or maybe pretentious, but we try to fight that. There are a bunch of different whites from different countries with different flavors. If you came in here and wanted to talk about white wine, I'd be excited. It would start a conversation.
What's the best bar etiquette? What makes you want to send someone a free round?
Don't pretend like you know what you're doing if you don't. So many people like to do that with wine. We're not trying to be pretentious about anything. If you need to ask questions, ask questions. I find that far more admirable than trying to be pompous and show-offy. I know it's intimidating if you don't know what you're doing, but we're friendly.
Do you see a lot of daters?
Definitely. We actually have one guy who came on a first date and now he has a child with that woman. I mean, that's kind of an out-of-the-ordinary story. But it's a testament to Ardesia.
Come here, and you'll get pregnant.
[laughs] I did not say that!
If you see a date that isn't going as well, are there any ways to make sure things don’t totally dissolve?
We're pretty good at seeing whether a date is beyond repair or not — I literally talk to people all day and all night. So you learn how to jump into the conversation and stay in the conversation if they need you, or just lead them in a new direction and then back away. And more wine. More wine always helps.
Etre en Verve
2 oz. Lillet
2 dashes grapefruit bitters
4 oz. dry sparkling wine
Pour over ice and serve. Garnish with lemon.