Bartender Chronicles: Dan Hart, Lady Jay’s

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Photos by Sarah Jacobs

Have you ever wondered what life is like for those kind and patient people pouring shots behind the bar? This summer we’re bringing you a meet and greet with some of your favorite faces behind the bar at your favorite haunts. After the jump, Dan Hart from Lady Jay’s talks about his choice of beer-and-shot special, his favorite bar rooftop to spend a summer night, and his hunt for the perfect dumpling.

How long have you been a bartender?
Don’t tell my first job ever, but since I was 20. It was an old-man dive bar in Seattle, Washington. I’d been hanging out in there for a while, and they just kind of assumed I was of age. It was a few months before my 21st birthday.

What do you like about bartending?
I love interacting with people, even when they’re terrible.

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When it comes to bar etiquette for customers, do you have any advice?
Never wave money at somebody [or] snap your fingers…All you have to do is make eye contact and a bartender will be with you. And if you’re not tipping properly, don’t expect a buyback.

Do people ask for buybacks a lot?
Yeah, they don’t get ’em. Never ask for a buyback. You’d be surprised…When people have a few drinks and just think they’re going to get a free one automatically, that’s not necessarily true. If you’re not behaving properly or tipping well, you’re not going to get a free drink.

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If you had to choose an official cocktail of Brooklyn, what would it be?
I’m going to go with the Dude Ranch–it’s a shot of tequila with a mashed-up Cool Ranch Dorito in it.

What’s your go-to drink after a long shift?
Beer and a shot. Well, I’m probably going to go with something cheap and flavorless when it comes to beer, and depending on the season, whiskey or tequila, and usually Jameson or Hornitos…I’m usually just looking for a chaser for my shot. Craft beer is great and everything, but I don’t like when it turns into a meal. After one or two, I switch over to something watery. Something I can drink, like, 12 of.

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What’s your favorite undiscovered place in the neighborhood?
I don’t really want to tell you guys my secrets! Well, what’s really amazing is on the weeknights sometimes we’ll go to The Ides on the top of the Wythe Hotel …It’s a beautiful scene. I’d recommend going in the summer when the sun is setting over the city on a Tuesday night.

When you’re not tending bar, what do you do?
I guess I’m a food maniac. Me and my girlfriend usually are on some kind of food adventure…I’ve been comparing soup dumplings all over the city, xiaolongbao. So, you know, Flushing, Chinatown, Sunset Park. It’s a good time.

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Are there any Northside bands you’re excited to see this year?
I’d say the band I like best out of there is Built to Spill. I’ve seen them probably a dozen times.

What do you think is the relationship between whiskey and bartenders?
[Laughs.] It’s kind of counterproductive to my relationship with caffeine.

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