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Craig Melvin tried to be a bartender for a day — and he had an amazing time

TODAY anchor Craig Melvin got a chance to see what it really feels like to get behind the bar on a busy night.
/ Source: TODAY

Craig Melvin makes being a TODAY anchor look like an easy gig. But how would he fare in a totally different field?

The hosts of the 3rd hour of TODAY have gotten to flex their muscles in various careers recently. Al Roker fulfilled his lifelong dream of being a professional chef for a day. And Craig, who loves craft cocktails, got to see what it's like to be a bartender. To learn the tricks of the trade behind the bar, Craig spent a full day making cocktails with mixologists at some of New York City's top bars and restaurants.

First, Craig stirred up a classic old fashioned at Liquid Lab NYC. The drink was made with a sugar cube, bitters, and, of course, bourbon. Everything was going as smoothly as a nicely aged spirit ... until Craig had to light the orange rind on fire for the finishing touch.

"Whoa, buddy! Almost lost that finger," Craig shouted, as sparks flew off the citrus fruit.

All burns aside, he remained confident. "I think I could be a bartender," Craig proclaimed as he finished up the first libation.

Next up, the TODAY anchor headed to vintage Greenwich Village hotspot Caffe Dante to make a whiskey sour, which has bourbon, benedictine, lemon juice, vanilla honey syrup, bitters and a special addition of egg white. There, Craig discovered the secret to creating a smooth and frothy egg-white mixture, which sits atop the cocktail like meringue: It's all about shaking up the egg in its shell before cracking it.

By the time Craig got to Diego at the Public Hotel to make a margarita, he was feeling more than ready to mix up this classic libation with tequila, Cointreau, fresh lime juice and simple syrup.

"I've been making drinks for while, like, for four hours," Craig said with a laugh.

As Craig slowly but surely mastered his new trade, little did he know he was in for a surprise that would put his newly acquired tricks to the test: his 3rd hour of TODAY hosts — and the show's entire production crew — were just outside the venue, ready to order some drinks.

"Craig's inside. He's learning how to bartend. He doesn't know that the worst customers possible are about to crash his lesson," Al Roker joked.

"Somebody order some pizza?" Al asked as he walked into Craig's bartending session with a tray of pizzas he swiped from a server. Co-hosts Sheinelle Jones and Dylan Dreyer swiftly followed.

Craig Melvin served up several rounds of drinks for his 3rd hour of TODAY co-hosts and colleagues.
Craig Melvin served up several rounds of drinks for his 3rd hour of TODAY co-hosts and colleagues. TODAY

Craig got to work fixing a round of margaritas for the crowd as they cheered him on.

"This is what I really learned today," Craig said, shaking the shaker vigorously.

"Are you supposed to be twerking?" Al asked his friend and colleague, who clearly knows how to throw a fun party.

Keep up the good twerk — sorry, work — Craig!