New Yorker Craig Schoen paved roads, repaired furniture, ran a recording studio, and worked in restaurant kitchens before adding bartending to his repertoire in the late '90s and then transplanting to Seattle just five years ago. Once here, Schoen worked at Spur, Ocho, and Bea before settling in at the Walrus and the Carpenter.
Here, five questions (with a Thanksgiving twist) for Craig.
What’s everyone ordering at the Walrus and the Carpenter these days? Whatever I tell them to. I usually try to steer people towards cocktail pairings. It makes it more fun for me and for the customer. And, since we have a nice selection of cocktails on the list and a lot of booze to choose from, why not pair something that makes sense with what the customer is eating?
What’s the best drink you make? A Sazerac. An incredible older gentleman at a SOHO institution forced me to make at least 50 before he’d let me serve one to a customer. The subtleties of a Sazerac take years to get right.
What would you pour for friends and family on Thanksgiving? The last few years I have done hot drinks at Thanksgiving. I love making cider drinks with nice bourbon.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen happen in a bar? Well, I had the opportunity to open a bar in a part of Brooklyn that was just starting to gentrify, so I’ve got some pretty interesting stories. The neighborhood at the time was mostly Dominicans, Italians, and lesbians, so we were kind of the new kids on the block. It became an incredibly tight-knit bar full of regulars. From Wall Street guys to musicians, writers, dealers—and everyone was there three to four times a week, usually hanging out for hours on end. One night there were about twenty or so regulars at the bar. We heard the upstairs neighbors going at it, louder than usual. Loud BOOM after BOOM until we eventually had to call the cops, as it sounded like the ceiling was going to cave in. One of my friends stepped outside to look upstairs, heard some shouting, then came back in as three cop cars pulled up. Just as my friend came back through the door tons of glass showered down onto the pavement followed by a huge thud two feet from her. The girl upstairs had missed trying to throw a bowling ball at her boyfriend, sending it straight through their street-facing window. The two idiots got arrested, and we had a bowling ball for the rest of the night.
Have you ever worked behind the bar on Thanksgiving? I have only worked on one Thanksgiving Day, and it was at a restaurant in Brooklyn called Stone Park Cafe. The night before, we were at the weirdest Korean karaoke bar on the 14th floor of some office building in the 30s on the west side. My now wife and a couple friends drank so much soju and sang until 4am. I have never been more hungover in my life. The next day every dish of turkey, stuffing, etc. made us all want to hurl instantly.