Thursday, December 02, 2010

The Flair Bartender Who Got Burned



A fascinating article from The New York Times about a rather theatrical – if not dangerous – flair bartender and the unusual twists and turns of his career.  For the full article, please click the link below …

Albert Trummer, the Bartender Who Played With Fire

THE whole aesthetic — some might say shtick — of Apothéke, the haute bar sequestered in a mysterious time warp of Chinatown, was pharmaceutical from the moment it opened. Bartender-slash-alchemists in white lab coats decocted botanical-and-herb-infused libations from great laboratory beakers. On certain evenings, the main medicine man himself, Albert Trummer, stood in the back bar lined with classic Latin-labeled druggist vials and soothed grateful patrons with curative elixirs and stress-relievers, even as he mesmerized them with his mixological rituals.

Yet in the past few months, sensational headlines and court documents have painted this sanctuary at 9 Doyers Street as a lurid demimonde of leaping flames, physical confrontation and imprisonment. A temporary restraining order forbids Mr. Trummer from conducting his signature cocktail chemistry in the bar. He faces criminal charges and possible jail time for attempted arson as well as a civil lawsuit, filed by a co-owner and managing partner, Heather Tierney, charging “repeated, unlawful and dangerous actions and conduct.”

Furthermore, Ms. Tierney’s brother Christopher, another partner, faces a year in prison on charges that he assaulted Mr. Trummer, who has sued the Tierneys for imprisoning him in the antediluvian Apothéke sub-basement — a reputed opium den long ago — and for inflicting pain, “emotional distress, shock, fright and apprehension” in a dispute involving rights to Apothéke’s trademark.

What could cause three owners of a lucrative and respected cocktail haunt to turn on each other this way? One explanation is Mr. Trummer’s penchant for creating pyrotechnic displays by lighting alcohol on fire while mixing.