What Do You Want?

I have a system.

Here’s a scenario to illustrate it:

Five deep at the bar. Mayhem.

One guy is making out with his boyfriend, gabbing with his girlfriend, smacking his guy friend on the bootie, dancing with his mom, and ordering several drinks, one at a time. But he keeps changing the order, stuttering, stumbling, blundering, forgetting.

I want a Grey Goose vodka, he says.

Grey Goose is vodka, I tell him.

He laughs at his mistake. Grey Goose cranberry, he says.

What else? I ask him.

Uhm, hold on, he says, and turns around to ask his mom what she’s having.

Another guy casually raises his hand to get my attention. Without making a show of it, he has a $20 bill ready to pay. I’ll take a Blue Moon, he says.

For the sake of expediency, I will serve this guy his beer while the other dude figures out the rest of his order.

Ordering a drink at a bar is an art in itself. Please, strive to be clear, concise, and direct. Much of my work boils down to communication. Tell me what you want. Do it clearly, and say it like you mean it.

Group Drinking, Done Right

Go ahead. Be baller.

If you sidle up to the bar with several friends, why not offer to buy everyone a round? Not only does it make you look classy and generous in front of your crew, it makes my life much easier, especially if I’m dealing with plastic.

Swiping one credit card for one transaction involving several drinks is much more efficient than swiping five or six credit cards for each individual. When seven people walk up to the bar as a group and each of them orders, and insists on paying, separately, it slows down service for everyone at the bar.

I love to cater to every patron’s whim, yet I truly appreciate those most considerate of drinkers who gallantly buy a round for their entire posse. It speeds up the process, and time is money. More importantly, time is alcohol, in your body, which makes you have more fun.

This unwritten rule of etiquette holds especially true, I would argue, at lower priced establishments like dive bars. Where I tend, for example, 5 drinks at happy hour can easily cost less than $20. This is roughly the price of just one or two drinks at swankier, more expensive joints in the area.

So next time you order a vodka soda, a Jack and coke, a Bud Light, and two shots of tequila, and the grand total is $19, just hand me that card, flash a sexy smile, and tell your posse, “I got it.” They, and I, will respect and remember you for the rest of the night. Even better, throw down cash and tip heftily. I will make sure it comes back to you.

Did you eat your avocado this morning?

My version of Wheaties

You know you’re a bartender when you eat breakfast and drink that sacred morning cup of coffee at 8:30 PM. For the joe I go with Bustelo, and take it black. As far as victuals, I’ve developed a ritual. Sliced ripe avocado on whole grain toast or crusty French bread, with a squeeze of lime, salt, and a drizzle of olive oil. Drink your java, they say, for it’s a jungle out there. Just don’t forget your avocado.

Give Me Whiskey

“Do you have persimmon vodka?” a customer asked me Wednesday night.

I replied that we did not. He requested several other flavors of rare fruits one might find at Whole Foods, or in the rain forest, if one were lucky.

Later in the evening, a regular ordered himself a Stella and a Loopy Diet for the DJ, Loopy being Fruit Loop-flavored vodka. I informed him we were out of Loopy. The DJ approached the bar and asked me about the bottle with the colorful stripes.

“That’s Tartz,” I said.

“So it tastes like Life Savers?”

“No. It tastes like Sweet Tarts, as its name suggests.”

“Do you like it?”

“I drink whiskey.”

On my way home from the bar, I stopped at a 24-hour mini mart to indulge a serious chip hankering. This is just one of my post-bartending rituals: a cold brew and a bowl ‘o’ potato chips.

The options lining the shelves overwhelmed me. Feeling adventurous, I snagged a bag of Beer and Cheddar-flavored chips, rather than going with the classic Lay’s.

The chips packed a potent beer-and-cheddar punch. Yet as I neared the bottom of the bowl, I couldn’t help feeling they left something to be desired. In a sense, they were a tease, an artificial suggestion of multiple flavors that ultimately failed to deliver the satisfaction of eating the thing itself.

My conclusion: Instead of buying beer and cheddar chips, I should’ve bought real cheddar and regular chips to go with my beer. For the same reason, I would never drink persimmon- or Fruit Loop-flavored vodka. I’d much rather slice a ripe persimmon or pour myself a bowl of Fruit Loops to go with a chilled shot of Ketel One.

But this is me. And I mean no disrespect for those who enjoy flavored spirits.

Leave it on the bar, please

Let me acknowledge, first and foremost, that I, as your bartender, very much appreciate your tip. However, it is in no way necessary to put that dollar bill directly in my palm. I’m multi-tasking. I’m taking orders, making a cosmo, and running a credit card and cash transaction, all at the same time. I am in the zone. Unless you are tipping me $20 per round or some exorbitant amount, please, dear drinker, consider the breakneck speed at which I’m moving before you disrupt my flow. Again, I am grateful for your generosity. However, you will make my job easier by just leaving it on the bar. I’ll see it, I’ll get it, and you, my fellow imbiber, will get your drink faster when you return for Round Two.

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