When Konrad Kantor decided he wanted to pay homage to his first childhood love — the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — in ink form, he knew he had to give a shout-out to the infamous green ooze responsible for the reptilian superheroes’ transformation. But for this Doris Metropolitan bar manager, not just any old ooze would do. So, he turned to the ever-intriguing, beguiling, and yes, mysterious Chartreuse, a liqueur with origins as steeped in secrecy as the green goo in question. “Instead of a broken ooze canister, we could say, the turtles formed from green Chartreuse,” Kantor explains. “It might sound like a stretch, but… I’m a bartender.” Makes perfect sense to us.
Of course, it helps that the herbal Carthusian liqueur shares a green hue with the Turtles’ ooze, but that’s not the only reason Kantor chose to have the iconic bottle indelibly inked on his upper arm. “We’ve always had a bottle in the house, since I was a kid,” he tells us. “I’ve always enjoyed using it, but in my adulthood, I probably drink more Chartreuse than almost anything, other than gin.” (According to him, it’s also many a New Orleans bartender’s go-to shot.)
Kantor adds that one can even draw a parallel between the art of making Chartreuse, and the martial arts mastered by the Turtles. “If you look at the history of Chartreuse, those monks went through hell just to make a product,” he says—not unlike the rigorous ninjutsu training endured and mastered by Donatello, Michelangelo, Raphael, and company.
The existing sleeve, which runs from Kantor’s shoulder to forearm, is about three-quarters finished and represents about 24 hours’ worth of work. The final session will add a pizza-eating Splinter to the work, a shout-out to Kantor’s friendship with his dad. “If you watch the original movie and read the original comic book, it’s very father-son themed,” he says. “So it was kind of like, a goofy fun take on a dad tattoo.”
You’d have to be pretty serious about spirits to have one permanently inked on your body, and Kantor definitely takes his duties seriously behind the bar. “People should be proud if their son or daughter is in the service industry… it’s a serious career path,” he says. But, he adds, “As bartenders, you have to have youthfulness and your inner child, if you expect to do well in a career like this.” Splinter would be proud.
Konrad’s ink pays homage to the Ninja Turtles, Chartreuse and his dad, all in one sleeve.