Saturday, April 12, 2008

Two things not to do around bartenders

Bartenders are my favorite people in the world. That said, we can be a clannish bunch, not easily given to outsiders joining our little fraternity. Occasionally, we do invite people into our world, but its usually after a careful inspection of the person in question. Usually there is a common interest in cocktails, and these people have either a certain expertise to add to our conversations, or they are just pleasant company. Unfortunately, once in a while things go wrong, and someone in the company of bartenders (or should I say my company) ends up being a complete boor. Two things never to do if you are out and about with me;

1) Don't play stump the bartender. Ever. It just makes you look like an ass, and makes me remember all the times I've had to sit through this game. Also, if you are in, say, a hotel bar, this might not be the appropriate place to order an obscure tiki drink or something containing ingredients that you know that they don't have on hand just to embarass them. I tend to react negatively to people trying to make my fellow bartenders look bad for sport. If a bartender is bad somewhere and you are out with bartenders, let the bartenders tell you how bad he or she is.

2) If you aren't a professional bartender, don't start asking me for a job or to get you a job. I'll be polite and brush you off as nice as I can, but to be honest, if I haven't seen you in the weeds with a bar 10 deep on a Friday night, I'm not ever going to recommend you to someone (the only exception to this rule I can think of, and this is singular, is Erik Ellestad. Erik used to be a line cook though, so he's been through some rough nights). Forget romantic notions of bartending, when you enter the professional arena, you are in the service industry and you'd better be prepared to make lemon drops and cosmos as much as you might hate them, and you'd better be quick. Don't be surprised at the speed of a speed pour, surprise won't get that printer to quit spitting tickets out or that guy from bugging you for refills every 5 minutes.

Avoid those two (and use indoor plumbing when and where appropriate) and we're golden. Violate either, and you most likely will find yourself persona non grata in the company of bartenders.


erik_flannestad said...

Goodness that is nice of you to say, Lance!

I keep thinking I should tell bartenders and managers they should hire more middle-aged ex-line cooks.

Then I remember those candidates should also be obsessed with cocktails, have a fairly encyclopedic knowledge of spirits, still be interested in working hard, have to fortitude to be able to stand for the length of an 8 hour shift, some talent for customer service, etc.

Well, there's at least me...

Hope we get to make some cocktails together soon!

Robert Heugel said...

Well said, especially the stump the bartender part. I never pretended to know every recipe known to man, but I do think I can make you a good drink...if the guest will let me. Why do some people judge bartenders on their ability to make a drink from memory that doesn't even taste good? I forgot some recipes for a good reason, trust me. I remembered others because people need to try them. This seems like a simple concept, but once every couple of months Alex Trebek walks in.

Anonymous said...

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