Dale DeGroff is so old school. He actually wanted to be an actor!
Long before this age of self-serious mixologists, most bartenders you met in New York were frustrated would-be actors. No they're frustrated would-be brand ambassadors. Dale's from another time. He began his bartending career in L.A., waiting to break into film. (Not the movie star good looks.) That didn't happen, so instead he turned the bartending world on its head.
DeGroff will be premiering a cabaret show at Cornelia Street Cafe in October. I've heard him sign. He's good, and has stage presence. Here's an item I wrote for the Times. It combines my two bailiwicks: liquor and theatre. I suspect this won't be the last time that sort of reporting mash-up happens.
Dale DeGroff, From the Bar to the Stage
By ROBERT SIMONSON
Dale DeGroff, the man called by many the father of the craft cocktail movement, began his career as many a bartender has — slinging drinks while waiting for his acting career to take off.
Mr. DeGroff will return to his roots on Oct. 5, when he’ll sing and tell tales in a show called “On the Town With Dale DeGroff: A Salute to Saloons, Neighborhood Bars and Legendary Cocktail Palaces,” at the Cornelia Street Cafein Greenwich Village.
The show “is an opportunity to reveal bar life in the way it naturally unfolds at the bar — telling stories,” said Mr. DeGroff, who has been known to croon a tune or two at liquor industry events and the occasional wedding. “As for the songs, ‘saloon singing’ has a long history and I, for one, want to hear more of it.”
The barman will lend his voice to Hank Williams’s “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “This Is So Nice (It Must Be Illegal),” by Fats Wallers and George Marion Jr., “Lulu’s Back in Town,” by Al Dubin and Harry Warren, and “Scotch and Soda,” a hit for the Kingston Trio. While he is singing, audience members will sample three cocktails— an absinthe frappe, the Major Bailey and the yuzu gimlet — and hear the stories behind them.
“On the Town…” will play a longer run at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, N.J., next May.
“This show gives me a chance to bring performing together with bartending,” Mr. DeGroff said. “They aren’t that far apart to begin with.”
“On the Town With Dale DeGroff: A Salute to Saloons, Neighborhood Bars, and Legendary Cocktail Palaces,” the Cornelia Street Cafe, 29 Cornelia Street (Bleecker Street), Greenwich Village, (212) 989-9319. Tickets are $20, including three drinks.