January 20, 2018

Nazareno García, bartender

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Greenpoint’s green fingers

By Sorrel Moseley-Williams
For The Herald
Age: 27
Lives: Brooklyn, New York City
Born: Vicente López, Buenos Aires
Education: Technical high school
Occupation: Bartender at Hudson Bar and Books
Currently reading: Poemas para combatir la calvicie by Nicanor Parra
Last seen: Rick and Morty
Can’t live without: I love my bike

When the opportunity arose for bartender Nazareno García to move to North America with his girlfriend, the couple took it. After 18 months in Miami, which proffered a comfortable adaptation period for the Vicente López transplant, the couple now lives in New York City.

Nazareno says: “The start of March marked three years since I moved to the US with my girlfriend Lucía, who has US citizenship. We met in Buenos Aires four years ago and when we got together, there was a very strong love between us. And, even though I was doing well working at the Four Seasons at the time, given that nothing’s stronger than what I felt for her, we came to the US together.”

Culturally influenced

Armed with some English, Nazareno says the cultural differences weren’t too hard to handle. “To say I knew nothing before I came here would be a lie really, because culturally, for my generation, the influence of the US is very big. Despite never having trodden on US soil before moving here, familiarity with the culture combined with some language and being able to communicate to a certain extent was a big help.

“In addition, we lived in Miami for the first 18 months and that helped me adapt culturally to the US far more easily. It was a good place to start. I spoke lots of Spanish there, so when I moved to New York a year and a half later, I felt very at home there after the peace of Miami; New York has a similar rhythm to Buenos Aires. Depending on the neighbourhood, whether it’s Queens or Brooklyn, you can feel that Buenos Aires vibe. Simply walking around, I could be back there.”

In the mix

While he studied sommellerie in Buenos Aires, it wasn’t until he reached the US that Nazareno decided to explore mixology. He says: “I never was as a bartender in Argentina — I worked in service at Pony Line — but I was into the idea of taking my knowledge further and deduced I could work behind a bar in the US.

“I work in Hudson Bar and Books, one of the city’s first cigar bars; it has a large selection of whisky from around the world, a bit of everything, and it is one of just five bars in Manhattan where you can smoke indoors.

“A lot of my colleagues come from Bangladesh and Nepal. We’ll have a beer together after work and it’s always enriching to talk to them, as they are from so far away and how they live is so distinct.

“Working here has a totally different rhythm compared with Buenos Aires and people have an alternative capacity for consumption; the spirits-drinking culture is very different. There’s a continual buzz and hospitality here is much more appreciated than it is in Argentina. Plus, when people go out, they don’t think much about costs.

“New York has an intense rhythm and if you feel blue, it can be a problem and maybe you’re not up to being here. But when you feel good and you let yourself go with that rhythm, you see the fruits of your efforts converge on the next step of what you can achieve. The city certainly has a peculiar intensity.”

Nazareno and Lucía live in Greenpoint, north Brooklyn, which he loves. “It originally had a lot of Polish migration and it’s one of New York’s oldest neighbourhoods. There are Arab and Latin American communities and also Poles as well as people who’ve moved here from other parts of the US. It has a lot of good vibes, and there are small bars and restaurants that do the best they can every day as they have the obligation to do so.

“We live in an apartment with a terrace where we’ve planted a little garden. We’re taking this project very seriously, with the idea of producing jams, pickled goods and dried fruits that we aim to sell. A friend, another bartender who’s also a biologist, is keeping an eye on things to see what kind of scale we can reach.

“I love my neighbourhood: it’s a weird mix of Villa Ortuzar with elements of Montevideo in Uruguay. The square is around the corner from my house, and it’s hard to leave the area in summer as everything is so close.”

Better by bike

In his spare time, Nazareno tends to his garden and loves cycling around the Big Apple. He says: “I bike around the whole city though I don’t tend to just go out but as long as the weather accompanies me, I always go somewhere specific. I love going on the ferry: from my house it takes 10 minutes to get to the dock, I pay US$4 and sail down the East River to the most historical corner of the financial district, where George Washington was sworn in as president — the view is ridiculous! It’s unique. It takes in Williamsburg and Brooklyn bridges, and all the most important buildings are there.

“I also like going to museums and there are lots of cultural offerings. If I get invited to something, I always go, and I usually enjoy it. And whatever you want you can do, whether it’s to eat cheap food, eat expensive food, ethnic food of any kind, everything is within reach of what you want to pay.”

After three years in the US, his most North American characteristic is?

“Consumerism! I have the most up-to-date germination kit, LED lights in my bookcase and my kitchen is really well kitted-out. Nothing’s a dream, I can make things happen. Everything was so cheap in Miami so it was (an) easy (trap) to fall into it. However, I’ve learned not to buy dumb stuff over time.”

Besides his friends and family, the bartender says he misses Argentina’s passionate people. “Perhaps I can’t be very objective as I haven’t been back since I moved but when Argentines do something, they always do it with lots of love and determination. If an Argentine does a favour, they don’t want anything in return, it’s not like that in the US.

“But if someone comes to visit, I do always ask for Esnaola quince paste, it has a very specific taste! I can get the yerba mate I like so I’m alright in that department.”


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