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Originally published Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 3:05 PM

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‘Hey Bartender’: Make this documentary a double

Cocktails have arrived on the documentary front, including “Hey Bartender,” reviewed by Seattle Times movie critic Moira Macdonald.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie Review 3 stars

‘Hey Bartender,’ a documentary directed by Douglas Tirola. 93 minutes. Northwest Film Forum, through Thursday; opening night will feature a bartending demonstration (by Casey Robison of Barrio) and happy-hour cocktails.

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June seems to be the month for well-stirred documentaries about drinking: “SOMM,” a hit at the Seattle International Film Festival (and opening for a regular run next week) focuses on a group of hopefuls studying for the Master Sommelier exam; Douglas Tirola’s “Hey Bartender,” now playing at Northwest Film Forum, engagingly looks at the new age of the craft cocktail, and the masters who mix them.

We learn a bit of history of bartending, and about how the craft cocktail — distinctive in its use of fresh ingredients and inventive, cheflike combinations of flavors — evolved in recent decades. And we meet two barkeeps who serve as our genial guides through the film. Steve Schneider, a young ex-Marine now fascinated by the art of the cocktail, is an apprentice bartender at Manhattan’s famous watering hole Employees Only. Steve “Carpi” Carpentieri, a former banker, opened a neighborhood bar in Westport, Conn., 18 years ago, but, despite its “Cheers”-like vibe, he’s struggling to keep it open.

Their situations are very different — Carpentieri resists serving craft cocktails, not sure if his regular crowd would order them — but both men draw us in; you find yourself rooting for Schneider to get a promotion, and for Carpi to continue his dream. “Hey Bartender” is full of great lines about mixologists (one I especially liked: “Bartenders are rock stars that couldn’t be bothered to learn instruments”), but at heart, it’s about two guys who love what they do. And who wouldn’t raise a glass to that?

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or

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