Christopher Pravdica Gets Dirty at Hank's and Serves Ski Water at Café Select

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Pravdica at Select: "A new place sounded attractive." Photo: Melissa Hom

Serge Becker opened Café Select with A Touch of Class D.J.'s Oliver Stumm and Dominique Clausen, so it’s no surprise to find a musician behind the bar. Christopher Pravdica’s two-man electronic rock band, Services, is on the A Touch of Class label, but when he’s not on tour, you can find him bartending at Select during the week and at grimy country bar Hank’s Saloon on weekends. We asked Pravdica about the divergent gigs, the "European feel" at Café Select, and how to join one of the private parties out back.

How does bartending at Hank's compare to Select?
It couldn’t be any more polar opposite, the antitheses of each other. One of the reasons I was excited to take the job [at Select] was because I had been working at such a dive for [four years]. I wanted something a lot cleaner; a new place sounded attractive. Hank’s has been a bar for over a hundred years; it’s got the funk of 40,000 years.

What's the crowd like at Café Select?
A cross section between the European visitors, the touristy shoppers, and at nighttime for dinner … what are those people who go to La Esquina called? Lots of fashion people, and artists, and musicians, Lower East Side people. But the place really has a European feel to it, not a Euro-trash feel.

We know about Select's Alpine wine list, but are there any specialty cocktails?
There’s the Swiss Mary. The secret ingredient is a spicy apple-tomato sauce that goes in with other [Bloody Mary] ingredients. Then there’s the Skiwasser [pronounced ski-vasa] ski water, the house specialty. In Switzerland, when you go skiing, you get this kind of raspberry lemonade with elderflower. The grown-ups put a little liquor in it. Ours is a cold vodka drink with Limonata, a little bit of elderflower, and a little bit of raspberry syrup.

Have any of the celebs spilled over from La Esquina?
A little bit. The Mary-Kate twins? What are they called? They walked by but were hoarded by paparazzi so couldn’t duck in. There have been some others. It’s a nice break for them, a more relaxed environment. Seal was here the other night doing an interview.

What’s that small room with only two tables in back used for?
Parties, private dinners. You can reserve the room. Eventually there’s going to be a little bit of a lounge in the back. There’s a small bar, a dry bar, and they are having little parties [for friends] back there. They haven’t really figured out how it’s going to go down. I imagine they’ll want paying customers. [But] you definitely have to be invited to be back there; you have to walk through the kitchen.