The JakeWalk's Ari Form Talks Happy Hour, Sad Service & When It's Time to Turn Off the Jazz

Ari Form of the JakeWalk
If you're looking for a place to wet your whistle next happy hour, you can always consult your phone, but who knows where that contraption will send you. For a surely good time, head over to the JakeWalk on Smith Street, which has just instituted its first ever happy hour, featuring an easy-to-calculate $3 off everything drink-wise. You're likely to find bartender and partner Ari Form on one side of the bar or the other, depending on the day.

You finally have a happy hour. What took you so long?

I don't know. Perhaps we were lazy.

What else is happening at the JakeWalk these days?

We just launched our new cocktail list. We've got 10 new cocktails, which are all original to us. We change the list three times a year. We let the fall one that's very cold-weather centric go through January, then in February we launch one that has a bit more of a mix of a winter feel with a couple refreshing drinks, so that people can get into the spirit of spring.

What's your favorite drink on the new menu?

I'm gonna pick two. I like one called The River. It has Bonded Applejack, Dolin Blanc (a sweet white vermouth), Benedictine, and Angostura Bitters, which we still have.

So, you weren't too affected by the shortage?

We bought heavy. I don't know how long the shortage will last, but we're safe for now.

And the second favorite?

It's called For Esme. That has Dolin Dry and Creme de Peche, lime juice, demerara syrup, Allspice Dram (rum), and sparkling rose. Now, that's a good example of the way the cocktail list is working. The River is a little heavier, a little more bite to it, great for winter. And For Esme is refreshing with a spring feel, but the Allspice Dram gives it a little spice. So, it's nice on a warmer day. Or if you're just totally annoyed with winter.

You also have a pretty nice wine list there. Who's more fun: wine drinkers or cocktail enthusiasts?

If you're defining fun as somebody who really likes to engage flavor profiles from a palate perspective, I would say wine drinkers because their senses are a little bit more refined. But if you're talking about wanting to experiment and generally having a more affable personality, I would say cocktail drinkers.

How did you get into bartending?

I've been in restaurants all my life. When I first moved to the city [from New Jersey, for college at NYU], I was waiting tables, and I had my first opportunity to be in a restaurant that had an actual beverage program as opposed to just slinging beers around. The bartenders there seemed very attractive to me. I just started asking questions, and within a year, I was behind the bar. You start with the crappy shifts, then you move to another place and get better shifts. And now I get to pick the shifts because I'm the boss.

You have the whole Prohibition theme going at JakeWalk. Are we seeing an overkill on that aesthetic?

I actually think it's starting to slow down, which is nice. The cosmetic style is becoming a little cliched and people are starting to realize that what's more important is the product itself. You don't necessarily have to look a certain way to serve it. So people are starting to relax on the uniform aspect.

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