He filled beer mugs without watching what he was doing. He could apparently tell, by the weight of them, when to stop. He plucked bottles from their perches without pausing to check labels. He apparently had, in his head, the whole liquor layout at P.J. Clarke’s, on the East Side.
And he remembered what my companion and I were drinking, even though we had ordered just one round so far, and there were at least 35 people clumped around the bar on this early May night, and he was dealing — alone — with all the tickets from all the servers in the adjacent dining rooms, and he wasn’t writing anything down, not that I could see.
“Another?” was all he asked, and a half minute later I had a Hendrick’s gin martini, up, with olives and jagged little floes of ice, just like the martini before it. My companion was sipping a second Manhattan with rye, not bourbon, per his initial request. Mr. Quinn works quickly, and he works without error.
It is legend, this efficiency of his. I learned of it one night at PDT, a faux speakeasy in the East Village — secret entrance, abundant taxidermy — that’s about as far in spirit (and spirits) from the blunt, timeless rough-and-tumble of P. J. Clarke’s as you can get. I asked Jim Meehan, the cocktail shaman there, whom he and other celebrated young mixologists of the moment looked up to.
Without hesitation he named Mr. Quinn, 42, and not because Mr. Quinn had pioneered some clever infusion or paired two ingredients no one had thought to pair before. Mr. Quinn, he said, did right by the classics and could handle (and coddle) a teeming crowd. He had speed, stamina, dexterity, personality and an awe-inspiring memory: the essentials of bartending, without which the cheeky chemistry is meaningless. Mr. Quinn was the bartenders’ bartender.
A man worthy of his new New York Times fame