Meaghan Dorman meets a lot of people’s parents at Raines Law Room. Sometimes it’s because she has already met the girlfriend (who became the wife), the siblings, the business partners. The parents are the next logical step. Other times it’s more of a, “Look, Mom, I’m not drinking in a dive bar!” Dorman says.
Dorman doesn’t just mix serious cocktails for a living — she builds relationships. “I can tell if it’s a date or birthday, and I’m like, ‘Let’s do something special,'” Dorman says.
She pays attention to the lighting, music, and temperature. And Dorman trains her staff to “read people,” though she admits that skill comes with time. “I want the experience to live up to everything they’ve been expecting.”
Dorman’s bartending origins are a far cry from the exclusivity of Raines Law Room, a classic cocktail bar in Flatiron. A restaurant worker from the age of 16, she began bartending at a sports bar while attending Southern Connecticut State University.
By the age of 26, Dorman settled at Raines Law, where she was trained by the crew from Milk & Honey, a place she admired from her first days in New York City.
Back then, she used to ask herself, “How does one work for a bar like this?” Today, she makes sure the liquor order is in, the fruit looks good, and the mint is happy.
When the doorbell starts ringing at 5 p.m., she tells herself (and her staff): “People pay every single night to come here. We get paid to be here. We’re the lucky ones.”
The Raines Law Room
48 West 17th Street
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 18, 2012