It’s 5 p.m. and the sun is already setting. The chilly October day was promising a nippy night.Joey Diaz, Jr. is just getting started. He’s wiping down the rooftop bar at Altana on King Street, getting ready to begin his Tuesday shift.
I ask which signature drink he recommends, and I get the Rooftop Breeze, a cocktail of his own creation.
“It’s definitely a sneaker drink,” Diaz says.
After the first sip, I know; more than one of these, and I’ll need an Uber home.
It’s pretty to look at, and feels good going down – a vodka drink with lemonade and a splash of cranberry juice for color – but it’s deceivingly strong with its light and fruity taste. It’s delicious while sitting down and taking my time, but I can only imagine how refreshing it’d taste after a bout of dancing downstairs, and how quickly I’d want another.
Diaz says he concocted the recipe during a bartending contest around the time Altana first opened, and it was a huge hit.
“I wanted to make something different for just this [rooftop] bar, so I came up with this one,” Diaz says. “Something fruity, but also a little strong, too, that doesn’t have the bite to it.”
The Rooftop Breeze is a mainstay year round.
“What’s nice about that, is that I can make it fancy in a martini glass, and in the nightlife I can make it in a plastic cup, and it doesn’t alter the taste or anything like that. It’s more just appearance,” he says.
Diaz rotates with the five other bartenders between the rooftop bar and the bar on the third floor. That is, when the rooftop bar is open.
“Last year, we got lucky, and had the rooftop bar open into November,” Diaz says. “We even opened some days in December because the weather was beautiful. But this year, it’s gotten colder a lot quicker.”
He’s been at Altana since around when it opened, but worked at The Village before, where his famous drink was the WTF; seven vodkas and a ton of fruity flavor – another sneaker drink.
Lately, at Altana, the popular drink with the 11 p.m.-and-later crowd is the Trash Can.
“Really refined,” I joke.
“The thing is, we’re a different nightclub than most areas around here; we have a different atmosphere, we have a different style and the décor is beautiful. It’s different for Lancaster,” Diaz says. “So, people come to dress up, but they also like the nightlife style… And they come to party, so, a quick way to get to that point is with a Trash Can,” he laughs.
The Rooftop Breeze is no Trash Can, but it’s the right way to get your party started.
• Altana Rooftop Lounge
26 E King St, Lancaster
Tues. through Thurs.,
5 p.m. to midnight
Fri. and Sat.,
5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Name: Jose (Joey) Diaz, Jr.
Age: “Don’t put that in there.”
TV Show: NCIS
Movie: “There’s one I want to see – ‘Nerve.’ It’s kind of like the Pokemon Go thing right now, but with humans.”
Other hobbies: Shooting pool, Golden Tee, volunteer fireman
Find him: Every Tuesday “for my $5 Long Island Specials,” Fridays and Saturdays