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Behind the bar with Orlando McCray

Photo for: Behind the bar with Orlando McCray

22/08/2021 Orlando Franklin McCray takes us behind the bar at Nightmoves, and shares with us his art of cocktail making.

“As long as I've been able to go to bars I've been interested in bartending”

- Orlando Franklin McCray. 

Originally from Tacoma, McCray moved to New York over a decade ago and has been working in bars since. Over the years, he’s worked at Maison Premiere, Blind Barber, and is now the bar director at Nightmoves - a speakeasy hidden behind The Four Horsemen in Williamsburg. 

Orlando Franklin McCray

Orlando Franklin McCray

Today, McCray tells us a little bit about himself, his ways of increasing footfall, and how he buys spirits for the bar. 

Tell us a bit about your day-to-day role at Nightmoves.

I'm the bar director at Nightmoves. Our staff "post-pandemic" is pretty slim, so most operational stuff I do by myself, that's anything from a drink to development to buying. We're working on some new merch now and I'm a part of developing that as well.

What are some of the most important skills for a bartender to have?

Patience! It’s also an important skill for customers, or anybody really. 

According to you, what’s the most underrated cocktail ingredient or spirit?

Sugar is often overlooked for its importance in drinks, specifically the type of sugar and its application in what you're making/drinking.

How can suppliers work with you to drive sales?

Having that sort of relationship with brands/people who work for brands is something I really try to avoid doing. We serve what we like at the bar, I wish more establishments were able to approach their menus/back bars from a place that didn't depend on brand support.

Can you give us an example of a good bar/restaurant drinks menu? 

Options. Anything put together and executed with the intent of offering a great experience. 

Orlando Franklin McCray behind the bar

Orlando Franklin McCray behind the bar

What do you look for when selecting a spirit for the bar?

Whether or not it's singular, I try not to have two of any specific things behind the bar, so my customers have different options to choose from. 

What do you do to bring more footfall to the bar?

Develop a program that's worth traveling to, in an environment people want to be in.

What has been your most bizarre client request?

Not-too-sweet is probably the most commonly misunderstood customer request. Cocktails should be balanced, sugar is means of balancing them.

How has your journey as a bartender evolved through social media in the past year?

My partner and I were fortunate enough to have some work opportunities throughout the pandemic. We were definitely making more posts in the past year because of that.

What are some upcoming drinks trends we’re going to see more of?

I hope to see more bars and their patrons getting curious about new products. New York has some of the best distribution for spirits in the country, but big brands are still everywhere so customers rarely have an opportunity to try other, newer brands. 

What are you drinking right now?

Sorted Fortune, it's a musk melon eau de vie made by Matchbook distilling.

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