Here we go again with some random knowledge I’ve accumulated over the last couple years of throwing booze at people. Please enjoy responsibly.
What I’ve Learned in My Third and Fourth Year of Bartending
~ In a pinch, a wire coat hanger makes a great sink snake.
~ It’s fun to use smoke, foam, lasers, liquid nitrogen, gene splicing, etc., to make a drink. But make sure it tastes good.
~ You will never have to buy sunglasses. Customers will constantly leave them behind and never come back for them.
~ You will never have to buy t-shirts (assuming you’re OK with all of your t-shirts having liquor brand logos on them)
~ If the first thing you give a customer is the menu, he will ask for water. If the first thing you give a customer is water, he will ask for the menu.
~ A first date is one of the most entertaining/uncomfortable things you will ever witness.
~ Having the walk-in on a different floor from the bar is a huge pain in the ass (and legs, and back).
~ Customers will frequently ask, “What’s your best drink?” The best drink is whichever one you like best.
~ You will always have one-dollar bills in your wallet.
~ Some customers must know who the owner is. It will be the first question they ask. Apparently it is important information.
~ On that note: If you are over 40 and behind the bar, people will assume you are the owner.
~ A hand-picked playlist beats Pandora every time.
~ Some customers are clearly insane. Not drunk. Not high. Insane.
~ Speaking of insane, sometimes a customer will pay their tab entirely in dollar coins.
~ Nobody expects the guy in the Hawaiian shirt to say his favorite drink is a Martini.
~ Speaking of Hawaiian shirts: If you wear them frequently, customers will give them to you as gifts.
~ If you find two or three strangers spontaneously striking up a conversation with each other, that’s usually a good sign. You probably did something right, vibe-wise.
~ If you’re someone who thinks it’s acceptable to touch your server, bartender, etc., stop it. Unless that person is on fire or about to walk into a swarm of bees, there is no reason you ever need to touch a member of the staff.
~ You don’t realize how much you need a barback until you don’t have one.
~ Somewhere along the way, ranch dressing became a punch line.
~ There is no question from a customer you will come to hate more than “What do you recommend?”
~ Most people still have no idea what absinthe is all about (how it’s made, how you prepare it, how you drink it.)
~ If you are running low on ingredients for a particular drink, that drink will be the night’s big seller.
~ Likewise, if you are running low on beer glasses, everybody will want to order beer. If you are running low on wine glasses, everybody will be ordering wine. You get the picture.
~ If you suspect your dishwasher smokes weed, he probably does.
~ Actually, I’m certain your dishwasher smokes weed.
~ You know what? The whole staff probably smokes weed.
~ Does social media bring in customers? Maybe. Does word-of-mouth bring in customers? Always.
~ If a customer says to their bartender or server, “Don’t worry, I’m gonna take good care of you”, that person invariably leaves a lousy tip.
~ If there’s a part of the floor behind the bar that is not covered by a mat, that’s precisely where you’ll drop (and break) a bottle.
~ Visiting other bartenders at their workplace is fun, but make a point of getting together when nobody is working. It’s good to hang out somewhere neutral where everyone is relaxed.
~ There are restaurant reviewers who are skilled, knowledgeable, conscientious and inquisitive. There are also restaurant reviewers who are none of those things. It doesn’t take long to figure out who is who.
~ Unlimited olives!
~ Whatever type of drink you don’t happen to currently be featuring in your Happy Hour specials is precisely the one that customers will want (and will complain about you overlooking).
~ It’s obvious a lot of liquor brands don’t design their bottle sizes & shapes with bartenders in mind. In fact, some seem to go out of their way to create the most difficult-to-use configurations they can imagine.
~ A surprising number of people will have several rounds in a bar while having no idea what the name of the place is or what street they’re on.
~ If the temperature in the bar seems fine to you, a customer will immediately complain about it.
~ If your bar has lamps on it, customers will screw around with them. They can’t help themselves. Apparently, turning a light on and off repeatedly is very satisfying.
~ If your bar has a piano in it, customers will screw around with it. They can’t help themselves. Apparently, pounding on a musical instrument when you don’t know how to play it is very satisfying.
~ If you keep your tools, bitters, garnishes, etc., within reach of customers, they will screw around with them. They can’t help themselves. Apparently fondling fruit and examining tiny bottles is very satisfying.
~ What I’m saying is that a lot of grownups behave just like toddlers when they’re at a bar.
~ There are people who place a stack of bills on the table, inform their server that it’s their tip, and every time the server does something “wrong”, they’ll remove a portion of it. If you’re one of those people, stay home.
~ If someone orders a pisco sour, that person just got back from a trip to South America.
~ If someone orders a caipirinha , that person just saw a TV show about South America.
~ When you are making drinks or cooking at home, you will find yourself reaching for the bar towel you usually have hanging from your belt when you’re at work. It may not be there. This phenomenon is referred to as “phantom butt-rag.”
~ If a customer asks what nights you work, you probably showed them a good time.
~ You will destroy an unbelievable amount of socks.