Last night on my night off (I had worked my day job earlier in the day but had the night off from the bar), I was asked to bartend an underground party here in the city. Let me tell you right now, bartending an underground party is a whole different animal then bartending in a regular bar. It takes a whole different level of patience and people skills to be able to work in a situation like this. For the most part, the night is fun. If it's busy, its super easy cash. No one is watching your drink pour. No one cares if you aren't cleaning in your downtime. There is no food to serve. You can usually wear whatever you want. You never have to deal with credit cards.
BUT, with all of that said, there are a whole new list of circumstances you have to deal with that you normally wouldn't have to deal with working behind a regular bar. For one, people are always trying to haggle the drink prices. First of all, drinks at a party like this are generally way cheaper than what you would pay for in a normal bar. Also, consider yourself lucky that you are being served after 2am (a big no-no in the state of California). If it's after two and I tell you the mixed drink I poured for you is six bucks, it's six bucks. It's not five or four. I don't care if your ass is broke. If you are broke then maybe you shouldn't be out partying in the first place. The person running the party has to pay for the booze and so should you. I also don't care if you are friends with the party promoter. If you guys are such good friends, then he/she would have hooked you up with drink tickets. So don't ask or assume I am going to pour you a free drink just because you name drop.
As for drink tickets, the general rule of thumb when it comes to comps in general is (as in complimentary), if you don't have to pay for your drink, you have NO excuse why you can't leave your bartender a tip. A measly dollar will do. I mean come on. If you are getting your drink for free, the least you can do is tip a buck. You are already coming out ahead by not having to pay for the drink. Don't be a cheap ass and stiff the bartender. You "free" drink will continue to get weaker and weaker throughout the night.
I had a lot of fun working the party last night. The thing with these parties is that you are dealing with much more than the typical drunk bar crowd. A lot of these people are on a wide variety of drugs in addition to the alcohol. Be prepared for the touchy feelies. People are feeling good and are going to be searching out for extra human contact. Give hugs, high fives, smiles and even give them your ear. Don't break their high with a shitty attitude.
I do have to say that the biggest downer for me throughout the evening last night was right at the bitter end. Apparently our free water jug had ran out of water. Since I was the only person running the bar, I was not able to leave it. No one was around to refill the jug for me. This girl came up to me and asked me for water. I told her bottled water was two dollars. She got pissy with me right away and told me she knew the guy who owned the space. Um yeah, so? I knew him too. In fact, I gave him a drink or two throughout the night and he didn't tip, but that's neither here nor there. I certainly didn't tell her that. Instead I just smiled and reminded her that the water would be two bucks. Then she told me she was really good friends with the guy throwing the party. I told her if she was such good friends with him then she should ask him for a drink ticket. This girl was quickly turning into a bitch and I wasn't going to let up. I firmly stood my ground and told her the water was two bucks-take it or leave it. When she realized that I wasn't going to give in, she reached into her pocket and pulled out a twenty. A twenty!! She had money the whole time and was bitching about having to spend two dollars on a bottle water. Then she turned to her friend and started talking shit about me and the situation. At that point, I didn't care. I had the money. She had the water. It was five o'clock in the morning and I was ready to go home and get my ass in bed.
I wonder if people go into her place of work and bitch when they have to pay for the product or service? I should have asked her that.