Jake Zavracky of Lowlands Talks Happy Hour, Booze in Beer, and the Allure of Miller Lite
Jake Zavracky is living the dream: tending bar by day and making music by night. Or is it the other way around? In any case, when he's behind the bar at Lowlands, the beer garden that opened in Gowanus earlier this year, he aims to please.
zavracky.com Jake Zavracky
What's on tap that's seasonal right now at Lowlands?
We have Brooklyn Summer Ale. We have Allagash White. We have the Lagunitas IPA. As far as seasonal beers go, I guess that would be pretty much it. The Allagash sells like crazy and so does the Brooklyn. People definitely want a light beer in the summertime. Even the IPAs we have now are pretty light.
Do you have a personal favorite these days?
I actually hate to say this because it's not a New York beer. I like to support the local breweries, but the one that I like best is Goose Island, which is from Chicago. The Goose Island IPA.
What is always available at Lowlands?
There's about 10 beers on tap. Guinness and Boddingtons are always here. The Goose Island, Stella, Miller Lite, too. We've had the Kelso St. Gowanus pretty much since the beginning, and I think those'll stay.
Wow, Miller Lite. A lot of beer halls would be too snobby to serve that.
Miller Lite is a good alternative. It's cheap, especially during happy hour, when it's only $2. And it's only $3 normally. All the draft beers are $1 off during happy hour, daily, 5 to 8. Actually, we do happy hour Monday all night long.
Do you think the cocktail craze is getting out of hand or is it all part of a better drinking culture?
I personally love cocktails, but it's not something I think our clientele at Lowlands is after so much. They mostly want beer, I would say two or three to one. I make a few, but not very many a night. But I'm all for cocktails. If someone wants a cocktail, I get excited. But it doesn't happen too, too often, and when it does it's usually something simple like a martini. And they don't even want the vermouth -- just vodka or gin in a martini glass.
Have you made any beer cocktails there?
You mean like Black and Tans and stuff? Occasionally people like orange juice in the Allagash. British people seem to like Stella with some Sprite in it. I can't remember what it's called, but someone wanted Stella with grenadine in it. I have yet to add liquor of any kind to beer, but if someone wanted it I'd be more than happy to make it. We aim to please.
Do you ever cut anyone off?
I have cut only one person off and she was really just begging for it. She had to go. It wasn't a very enjoyable experience for me. I felt really, really bad. But, yes, fortunately it's happened once.