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Fools Folly

Photographer: Ian Spanier
Art Direction + Production: Big Leo
Story by: Mary Dail
Subject: Andreas Waltenburg - "DRE" - Owner, The Folly
Grooming: Ananda Ambrose

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Andreas "Dre" Waltenburg

Born November 12th on a Monday.

We caught up with Folly owner, Dre, about his 20 years as a bar man in New York City. Here is what he had to say about the changing landscape in New York's bar scene and what it's like to finally have his own place in the bustling Village.

fol·ly
/ˈfälē/ - noun.
1. Lack of good sense, prudence, or foresight.
2. Lewd behavior.
3. A foolish act or idea.
4. An excessively costly undertaking with no practical purpose.

ZA: When did you come to the US from Sweden?

AW: August 1994

ZA: What was your first job right “off the boat”

AW: Making coffee at a bagel shop on 72nd Street

ZA: How have you seen NYC night life change from the early mid-90s to today? Anything you miss? What one thing would you time travel from that era to bring back to the scene today?

AW: You could ask anybody that was in NYC in the 90’s and they would probably say the same thing. 
Even though the city is cleaner and safer, by doing so, they also washed away a lot of the beautiful nuances of the city. Especially underground culture. Especially nightlife. 
There were simply less rules back then, and much more freedom and more alternatives because of it. 
Being young and broke was a whole lot easier back then, so if I could bring anything back I guess it would be a bar with $2 drinks like The International. 

ZA: What is the biggest bar lesson (about the business or customers) have you learned over the years? And from whom (or from where?) did you learn it?

AW: Jimmy Garza. 1997. The man who taught me how to be a barman. Period. 
He told me too many things to mention but  if I could give one good piece of advice to anybody it would be this. 
Don’t be a pretentious ass. Don’t pretend. As an operator and as a customer alike. Don’t be afraid to look stupid and ask questions, about wine or food or spirits or anything else. 
Remain curious and inquisitive and you  will never stop learning. 
That will maintain your passion and your enthusiasm which certainly rubs off on people when you serve them. 
If you can afford to be nice, too, then you will stand out like a sore thumb.

ZA: Anything about being a Scorpio that HELPS you run your bar? Any obstacles to overcome being a Scorpio immersed in that social scene?

AW: The path of least resistance in business for me is the best way to cut the BS. 
Be up front with people. Be honest. Say what you mean and do what you say. 
That being said, diplomacy is important, too, and wasn’t always my strong suit - it's something that took me a while to figure out. 

ZA: What inspires you and how do you stay relevant in such a competitive market, competitive city?

NYC is one of the most saturated markets on the planet. Yet, very few people get it. 
When you do it right, and see people smiling in your bar, that’s all you need. Job done. 
I tell my bartenders all the time, there are probably 35,000 places where you can get a drink in the city. Why Folly? Come down and find out. 

Okay, time for a quick-fire round:

Favorite Cocktail: A solid margarita
Favorite Liquor: Tequila and Japanese Whiskey
Favorite food: Anything well made. I can eat Mexican everyday. Morning, day, or night
Favorite City: Berlin
Favorite band: Alice In Chains
Favorite piece of advice or quote you've heard: A guy once told me I was the nicest asshole he had ever met. I have tried to focus on the nice ever since. 

 

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A simple, festive take on a margarita with holiday flavor notes

Muddle 2 - 3 lime wedges in a shaker with 2 - 3 dashes of the bitters
Add ice and the rest of the ingredients, the Habanero is not necessary
but adds the appropriate "sting" to the end ;)
If your Blood Orange Purée is not sweet enough, then Agave is a simple tweak
Shake and strain into a coupe glass
Garnish with an orange peel