Orlando McCray

Williamsburg, Brooklyn
As you walk through The Four Horsemen and into a side corridor/construction site, you know you're about to encounter something insanely special tucked away. Nightmoves, the "sneaky" venue behind Williamsburg's most prominent wine bar, is a serious wonderland. Those who have spent evenings on the dance floor or tucked into one of its plush couches can attest. And like every wonderland, the drinks are superb, attributed mainly to Bar Director Orlando McCray. We tapped Busboy alumni Jack Schramm to give us an industry look on why Orlando is seriously the best of the best: "Orlando makes drinks that are thoughtful, delicious and direct. His cocktails thread an incredibly difficult needle, utilizing modern techniques to create a product that feels timeless. I’m consistently impressed with his work, and am always thrilled to bask in the warmth of his hospitality."
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What is your name, age, and where are you from?

Orlando Franklin McCray, 33, Tacoma, Washington

What was growing up like for you, did you have family meals?

I grew up with my mom mostly, she worked a lot but was with me when she wasn't. She's my best friend. I didn't grow up having like designated family meal-time and that's still sort of a foreign concept to me. Maybe I'll feel different when I have my own family.

What mea, or beverage, most reminds you of your childhood?

Aglio olio e peperoncino, I've always liked really simple food and I've had this so many times. I'm not a great cook but at least I can make this!

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Tell us a bit about your venture. What is your role and how did you get into this industry?

Right now (and hopefully for a long time) I'm the Bar Director of Nightmoves (the disco connected to Four Horsemen in Williamsburg). I was connected with them by a friend when I was recovering from a broken leg and temporarily out of work. It was really serendipitous because a lot of what we had to get together to open the place I could still do while not being fully mobile. We hit it off and I'm so thankful that they trusted me and gave me an opportunity to open our spot. It's a very special place. I think it's pretty funny but actually the FIRST job I got when I moved here is right next door to 4H, that didn't work out and I've been working in bars for almost nine years since then.

How has the pandemic affected you?

We were mostly all furloughed but they've let me be a part of every effort our bar has made since last March to do something in this situation. Very fortunate to work with a very smart and active group of people who have individually and collectively done their best to make sure we have a work home to come back to. Outside of work, my partner and I moved in March 1st a couple of weeks before everything shut down, interesting time for sure but we had a lot to do with a new apartment and I wouldn't want to be in quarantine with anyone else.

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What do you think working in this industry has taught you?

"Working" during this time has been humbling for sure, we have had side-hustles and all of that. I think most importantly we've been made aware of the abundance that was available to us before we just had to figure shit out. Knowing that we can do the same or better but different with less has been a very important take-away from this time.

What is your favorite item on the menu?

My favorite cocktail at the bar has always been the sparkling cosmo. Right now is an interesting time though because I'm just trying to get some really great spirits, not as interested in cocktails as I have been in the past but more focused on how people can have an introduction to and enjoy some really good shit they probably won't see anywhere else. I want to do some kind of menu called "just fruits" where we can explore terroir in spirits with an equally great and complimentary fruit or whatever makes sense. I want to check all the boxes of having a balanced cocktail with a focus on a spirit.  As far as food on the menu is concerned 4H just brought back the tuna dish last week and I could not be more excited, it's sort of like a carpaccio and I haven't had it in a little over a year.

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Once it's completely safe to socialize, where is the first place you're going out to eat and what are you ordering?

I need a good steak tartare. I hope Maison Premiere is able to open again, I've worked there and maintain a reverence for the place and the people that work there. They're down the street from us so getting out of work when we used to close at two and walking over to have several things was always a treat.

Anything exciting coming up for you?

Re-opening a bar! It very much feels like a second chance, we had a lot of fun the first time and now it's like we know what we don't need and we know what we got right. I'm not going to say it's fun all the time but when it is it's a payoff for everything everyone has done. My partner, our friend and I also started a cocktail delivery service that we'll do for as long as it's tenable, a lot of fun but like anything worth the payoff, a lot of work!

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