The Pool Lounge bar director on where he drinks when he’s off the clock

Thomas Waugh is the lucky bartender who doesn’t work weekends.

“I don’t want to curse myself, but I haven’t worked weekends in years,” Waugh said. 

With some 15 years under his belt in the craft cocktail scene, Waugh sets his own schedule these days. 

After stints behind the bar at Death & Co., Prime Meats and Maison Premiere, he joined Major Food Group in 2013, helping to open Carbone, ZZ’s Clam Bar, Dirty French, Santina and Sadelle’s.

The gig: The Pool Lounge

Nowadays, the Red Hook resident is focused on the group’s latest operation, in the Seagram Building, as the bartender and director of bar operations at the cocktail bar The Pool Lounge.

amNewYork spoke with Waugh, 35, pictured above in The Pool Lounge, about where he likes to go when he’s off the clock and is hankering for a cold beer and a neat spirit.

The go-to: Prime Meats

“I just moved to Red Hook, which is just perfect for me because all of my favorite bars are down here. I’m like a five-minute walk from Prime Meats. That was one of my favorite jobs. I probably eat and drink at Prime Meats more than any other place. It’s convenient on either my walk to or from work.” 465 Court St., Carroll Gardens, 718-254-0327,

Near the ‘office’: Smith & Wollensky

“[The Pool Lounge] is right smack dab in the middle of midtown. I really like the old bars. That’s a common answer when you talk to bartenders — we like old dive bars with a bit of character. I like P.J. Clarke’s, Hudson Malone. Where I really like to go drink — they remembered my name the second time I ever walked in there and treated me like a regular on my second visit (but I did go two days in a row or something) — is the bar at Smith & Wollensky. It just has a cool feel. If you go later in the afternoon, between lunch and dinner, you can sit there and be the only one at the bar and chat with the bartender and drink a martini. It’s great.” 49th Street and Third Avenue, 212-753-1530,


South Brooklyn brewery standout: Folksbier Brauerei

“I love Folksbier. They’re kind of a newer brewery that a lot of people don’t know about. It’s really small. Their tasting room is really mellow. I’m really happy I moved down here. I was in Prospect Heights for a long time; I just know everybody down here. Other Half’s down here. Sixpoint’s down here. Threes Brewing is right over here, in Gowanus. It’s a good area for beer, for sure.” 101 Luquer St., Carroll Gardens, 

Bartender hang: Long Island Bar

“I go to the Long Island Bar a lot. I know everyone at Long Island Bar, they’re like my kind of people — they’re kind of older, seasoned bartenders. They don’t give a [expletive] about making cocktails anymore, but they can still do it if you want one. But they’re more apt to pour you a beer and a shot and talk [expletive]. The last thing I want to do is go into a cocktail bar and talk about the history of the daiquiri or some [expletive].” 110 Atlantic Ave., Cobble Hill, 718-625-8908,