The bartender of 300,000 martinis

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Guillermo Fesser tells the story of Marcelo Hernández, the veteran mixologist of the legendary Oyster Bar in New York Central Station

Of his 55 years of work “serving liquid happiness,” he has spent more than 40 years as a bartender at the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Terminal (New York’s Central Station), one of Manhattan’s cathedrals of hospitality and cocktails. Marcelo Hernández, an Ecuadorian of outstanding 78 years, calculates that he must have served more than 300,000 ‘Dry Martini’ there. “Always mixed, never shaken, as James Bond rightly demands,” he laughs.

He doesn’t try the delicate combinations that have served movie stars like Marlon Brando, Ava Gardner or Fernando Rey, artists like Andy Warhol, drug lords and mobsters, tycoons and presidents, and the countless anonymous citizens and tourists who paraded before him. bar, beneath the ominous golden vaults of the Oyster Bar, designed and built by Valencian Rafael Guastavino.

Guillermo Fesser dropped by there to try his legendary fried oyster sandwich. The creator of Gomaespuma, journalist and writer, touched the thread of Hernández and understood that his life was a novel. He has named it ‘Marcelo’ (Backlight) and it tells the adventures of the bartender of one of the most legendary bars in the world.

For the charismatic Marcelo, the Oyster Bar was an “oasis of tranquility” where he spent time and “kept the secrets that clients entrusted to me” while making his cocktails. In fiction, his fate collides with Dylan, an arrogant millennial addicted to social networks and called his assistant to the chagrin of both, and Anna, a Spanish journalist who wants to write about Marcelo’s life.

With these wickers, Fesser builds his novel, which goes back to Hernández’s childhood in Quito, accompanying his musician father from joint to joint and preparing cocktails when he was only 12 years old. He talks about his landing in New York “with 20 years and three dollars in his pocket”, his time in the Playboy Club and the bar of the luxurious Four Seasons. Years of learning and working that would lead to the Oyster in 1982.

“A ‘Dry Martini’ can be made by anyone, but if you shake it, you’ll kill it,” warns Marcelo, who couldn’t serve it to Sean Connery — “he only drank whiskey” — and did prepare it for Timothy. Dalton, another 007. He also served Mario Moreno, ‘Cantinflas’, “as kind and smiling when he is silent”. Inventor of the ‘French Connection’, as much as he loves the ‘Dry Martini’, the ‘Manhattan’ or the ‘Gimlet’ – ‘simple and honest cocktails’ – he hates the ‘Brandy Alexander’, cream and let everything suck».

“Bars are sets where people roll their lives,” Fesser says. He has lived in Rhinebeck, New York, for twenty years and is married to Sarah, the American who encouraged him to write the novel, “a tribute to the Spanish immigrants who raised the restaurant business in the United States.”

Source: La Verdad

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