Hottest Bartenders of NYC: Terrence Ruggiero @ The Grey Lady

Are you ever out with your friends, when you take a glance at the bar, do a double take, and say “daaaaamnnnn?” No, not because you’re dreaming of the pizza you’re going to get at the end of the night, but because the bartender is sexy as hell. What is it about hot bartenders? Is it their mixology skills? Their chiseled forearms as they pour your liquor? Or is it that they’re always a bit of a mystery?

Galore has set out to introduce you to the hottest bartenders of NYC. You can get to know them through our interviews, instead of shoving your tits against the bar as you order that fifth tequila shot. You don’t have to thank us….we’re doing this for you. 

Photo Credit Ashley Uzer 

Terrence Ruggiero, The Grey Lady, Lower East Side

How did you end up here?

I was blacked out at Acme about three years ago when it first opened up, and the owner was there. It was a long night of drinking and I woke up to a text message saying, “Hey it was great meeting you, looking forward to you coming in for your shift tomorrow.” I pretty much had no idea, but I’ve been here for three years now this summer. We opened this place up, this is like one of 16 bars in New York that I’ve opened. Usually I open up a bar, work there for 6 months to a year, and I either get fired for drinking too much or get in a fight with the manager or something. Somehow it’s always worked out that I have another job lined up without me giving a resume.

What are some of the craziest stories you have?

I was working at Riff Raffs, I opened that place up in 2009. I was working there about 6 months, it was the best time, we started the face paint, it was absolutely absurd, so much money coming in. I would make my rent in one night in cash, I would be able to do my job but there would be a huge after hours there where I wouldn’t leave until six in the morning, we’d go to another after hours spot down the road until 10 in the morning, then we would go play pool at Space Billiards till 11. That would happen once or twice a week. How I got fired there: the manager and I didn’t get along at all, we just didn’t vibe. So a bartender who cut his hand asked me to close out- and I was pretty drunk at this point. My manager had given this big speech on how everyone needs to know how to close. I had to close and I didn’t know what to do so he let me go.

Another story is when I was at Blue Owl, I would sleep there. The general manager didn’t live here and I was homeless for a few months so I lived at the bar for at least two months and he didn’t know about it. Eventually some guy came in and saw me passed out. I had all my toiletries hidden, I had this whole thing in this little bar. At one point they were the number one cocktail in New York and then it became this complete shit show. The GM lived in San Francisco and would literally call once a week to make sure everything was okay, but it was literally a free for all. So he found out I was living there and he wasn’t really okay with that.

Photo Credit Ashley Uzer

So when you were living at the bar, how did you take girls home?

That was the beauty, you didn’t have to bring a girl back, you’d just stay. There was no convincing them to go anywhere, we’d have a little bar, we’d close out. You know the booths are narrow, but they’re soft, it’s fine.

So many bars I got fired from, like so many… Once there was a “lady of the night” and she was looking to score some drugs, It was in the middle of the day. I knew a guy who knew a guy and I was like; “okay, I’ll make this happen.” Make a little extra money. It was middle of the day brunch service and I had to do this whole thing where I had a checkbook and hand everything in and the manager was watching and kind of knew what was going on… Places where I work I kind of see myself as a self proprietor at the bar, I don’t really ever work well with bosses so when I’m behind the bar I kind of do my own thing. I’m confident because I’ve been doing it for so long. I kind of have this, not an attitude, but it fits or it doesn’t fit. I also sobered up two years ago.

Photo Credit Ashley Uzer

So you don’t drink at all anymore? Or do you still on occasion?

I taste, I sip. I don’t hit it like I used to. You have no idea, everyone thinks I’m high on coke all the time. I usually have more fun- I get so much energy from being behind the bar. When you’re behind the bar everyone wants to be your friend, it’s an unfair advantage. It’s something that’s been so good to me and I don’t take it for granted and I have such an appreciation around the bar because it’s given so much to me, but it’s also taken. It’s ruined every relationship, it’s ruined the whole balance. You see people ask “how do you bartend and not drink?” Especially our clientele here at The Grey Lady, they’re in finance, they work way over 40 hours a week, and on the weekends they just destroy themselves. I really feel for people at high stressful jobs, it’s really sad sometimes. You see people out of their mind, I still gotta get my rocks off. I’ve gotten into spirituality, I’ve gotten into Karate, Martial arts, fishing, surfing. I had all these hobbies, but I would never do any of them. Now, I work, I will rent a car and go upstate for a couple of days and go fly fishing.

What advice do you have for somebody who is dating an alcoholic?

Well, you can’t change somebody. For me, now I’m on the other side where I date girls who get a little wild, I can handle it. You just have to accept that this is what this person’s into, and they’re not going to change for anyone, so just be in it and ride it out until you’ve had enough.

I’m very up front with women , I don’t lie or expect them to change, that’s just how I am. I let everything kind of naturally go , my rule of three. I could spend 3 nights with a woman, after that third time it’s either I like this women and I’m going to pursue her, or I’m going to let her go. Because after the third time, it starts to be comfortable and you like this. Having sex is a whole ‘nother thing because for me it’s amazing, but sometimes my partners, watching them – it’s way more real, you’re into it, you know you’re not just doing it to feel good, you have a connection with someone else.

Photo Credit Ashley Uzer

Do you get hit on a lot working here?

I like a girl with confidence, if a girl gives me her number I like that. It takes a lot of courage for me to ask a girl for her number, I’m really shy and awkward, I get all in my head. Behind the bar I have a little more confidence, if they ask for the check I’ll say, “leave your number on there.” You have this whole thing, I see so many girls on blind dates or tinder dates and they open up about it.The other night, I had a girl coming in on a blind date. She said she didn’t know who he was, said his name was Ryan, and I said “oh, I’m Ryan, this is the date, I hope that’s okay.” I had her going, she was like “no way.” She thought I had set her up at my bar.

When you tell girls that you’re not looking for anything serious, do they appreciate that or get upset?

It’s definitely a mix. Sometimes I can sense that- not to sound cocky-  but that they really like me. It’s a very grey area. Sometimes it works out where the conversation doesn’t come up, but you can sense in a relationship after a while the communication. I always try to be open and honest in the relationship. When the questions start coming like “what are we doing tonight?” it’s like uhh… Sometimes it’ll happen where I get a lot of attention or get in with a lot of different girls, and then it’ll be dry for weeks and weeks and months and months. I don’t really pursue, but sometimes I mean, I’m a guy and I need that feminine touch. I started a Tinder account and I would go on and get a match and I wouldn’t message them. I would look at all their pictures, find them on Instagram or something and I would just be like “what am I gong to say? I can’t do this.” Any social media dating, I can’t. Most of my relationships have come from bars. In the back of my mind I always just want to meet that girl at the Farmer’s Market. The inner romantic in me won’t let that happen via social media, I want it to happen the way my grandparents met. Dating is very tough for a bartender. But when you want something, I really believe that the universe will send it to you when it’s time.

On drunk girls he’ve had to deal with:

About three stories I can tell you about, times where we’re closing up and I go to check the bathroom and I can’t open the door because there’s a woman passed out in the fetal position at 5 am. She couldn’t find her purse, didn’t have a phone. There have been times when I’ve actually brought girls back to my place, put them on my couch, tucked them, in gotten them water, fire-man carried them. One time I had another buddy I was staying with, when she woke up we had to tell her the whole thing. This other girl, she wasn’t a small woman by any means…in the basement I had to carry this woman up the stairs, no phone, no purse, no friends. And the thing is- I’ve been to every hospital, I’ve been tied down, that’s the worst experience waking up like that. I remember a cop came and saw me dealing with this girl and he asked if everything was okay, as soon as she heard the word “officer,” she woke up and started running! Heels and everything, she just ran.

Photo Credit Ashley Uzer



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