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Eat and Drink

Clover Club’s head bartender on where he goes when he’s off the clock

This was one fateful Craigslist post.

Tom Macy started as a bar back at Clover Club in January 2009, a few months after Julie Reiner opened the Brooklyn cocktail bar. Today, he’s the head bartender of the neighborhood destination, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month.

“I was an aspiring actor like everyone else,” Macy, 34, recalls. “I had been working in restaurants throughout my early 20s and had sort of gotten interested in cocktails. That was just starting to become a thing.”

Macy went to an open call for bar backs at the fledgling bar and got trained from scratch by the “amazing team of bartenders working there” in its pre-Prohibition-style cocktails. 

“At the time, the cocktails thing was still pre-boom, so a lot of bars were opening up, but there weren’t a lot of bartenders with that skill set developed,” Macy says. “It was the right place at the right time.”

The gig: Clover Club

Tom Macy, head bartender at Clover Club. for
Photo Credit: Gabi Porter

Over the years, he worked his way up, becoming Clover Club’s head bartender in 2012 and a partner in 2014 (his signature creation is the Green Giant, with gin and muddled sugar snap peas).

He’s also become a family man, with three girls under 5. 

Macy obviously doesn’t get out as much as he used to, but here are some of his favorites when he’s off the clock.

The bartender fave: The Long Island Bar

The exterior of Long Island Bar for Boroughs
Photo Credit: Al Rodriguez Photography

“It’s a very bartender-friendly place. It is very pared down. I think there’s six cocktails on the menu, they’re very classic. It’s kind of a very no-frills atmosphere, very cozy and welcoming. I know several of the bartenders that work there. That pared-down vibe is nice. I love the idea that bars can serve great cocktails and don’t have to be these fancy cocktail lounges anymore, which is definitely something I think has changed a lot in the last 10 years.” (110 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn)

The pre-kids favorite: Frankies 457 Spuntino

Frankies 457 Spuntino, at 457 Court St., in
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

“Before having kids I have really fond memories of going to Frankies on Court Street, which is more of a restaurant but they have good drinks. I mainly remember going there with my wife right before we found out she was pregnant with baby No. 1. It’s one of the last memories of that previous life. It’s a huge industry hangout.” (457 Court St., Brooklyn)

Near the ‘office’: Leyenda

Leyenda. Photo provided by Leyenda
Photo Credit: Leyenda

“I’d be remiss if I didn’t obviously mention that there’s Leyenda across the street that we also own. That certainly would be stop No. 1 around Clover Club. I’m a partner there too. I don’t have as much day-to-day responsibilities because we have a team over there, but I help with menus and whatever else they need.” (221 Smith St., Brooklyn)

The family-friendly neighborhood go-to: Peppino’s Brick Oven Pizza & Restaurant

Peppino's on Third Avenue in Bay Ridge, Friday,
Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner

"The food is so good and they’re all so friendly. There’s no pretensions about it. They had bruschette that is crazy good. The pizza is just so good it’s hard not to get it. It’s standard family Italian, but it has this very authentic, easy feel. It’s a new phase for us, doing family dining. That place has been great so far.” (7708 Third Ave., Brooklyn)


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