Monday, June 30, 2008

Cash. I Love Cash.

In general, if there are two people standing at the bar, one is holding cash and the other one is holding a credit card, I am going to help the person with the cash first. Why? Because credit cards can be a pain in the ass if you are busy and want to make a lot of drinks. Basically, the more drinks you make, the higher your sales are. The higher your sales are, the more tips you get. Plus, credit cards slow down the whole process. Don't get me wrong. I will eventually help everyone. It's just I prefer dealing with cash customers first. They are faster and easier.

I love going to work in a good mood and staying in that good mood during my entire shift. My Thursday night this week was like that. Even though it was our busiest night of the week, people were cool to me and relatively painless. Plus, I walked home with a fistful of cash. I love nights at work like that.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Drink Recipe: Strawberry Tequila Mojito

Muddle fresh strawberries, mint and lime
Add ice, white tequila. triple sec and simple syrup
Pour in a glass
Fill with soda
Garnish with a strawberry

Yummy delicious! Perfect for summer!

Never Realized How Much I Missed The Bar

I never realized how much I missed bartending until I came back this time around. Granted, I bartended all through college (five years or so) and I loved it back then. I think its just now that I took two years off and worked a 9-5 during the week, I have seen the "other side" and have yearned to come back. I have a deeper appreciation for the bartending profession. I am very thankful that I have such a skill to fall back on.

I had a lot of good times bartending all through school. Bartending is one of those skills you can take with you and make a living anywhere. It allows someone the schedule flexibility to make money and be productive during the day/week which is exactly why I decided to come back to bartending in the first place. The only way I would have been able to even think about doing a video production internship was if I gave up my 9 to 5 and worked nights. Bartending will essentially be the tool, the stepping stone I need to get to where I ultimately want to go.

Also, this time around bartending, I am taking more pride in the drinks I pour. Before I was just a "cocktail factory". Now I work at a bar where I am encouraged to try new recipes and be creative. My goal is to make delicious drinks that people enjoy instead of just getting patrons drunk.

I never realized how much of a homebody my 9 to 5 made me. Once I was away from the bar, my social life basically shrunk. I would opt to go home and get to bed early rather than go out all night, drinking. With bartending, you can still go out all night, but at least you are getting paid to be social. I like the idea of being social at work. I don't feel the pressure to drink either. I am thankful that my bar has a no drinking policy while on the shift.

Two more days at the day job and I am home free. Wednesday will be my first day off in three weeks!

A Saturday Night

Tonight was a salsa crowd. Lots of people asking for glasses of water and not tipping. What is with that?

I also had a large request for White Russians tonight. It seems like every night there seems to be one drink that dominates all of the others. Some other frequently ordered drinks: glasses of water (annoying), Long Islands, shots of Patron and Coronas. You can tell a lot about a crowd by what they order. Bars are funny that way.

I have to turn around and go back in tomorrow morning to serve up Sunday brunch. This is my easiest shift of the week. Then I am two workdays from having my first day off in three weeks.

God have mercy on my soul.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Drink Recipe: Hemingway Daiquiri

I learned a new drink recipe from a fellow bartender last night to add to my book of recipes. It's called a Hemingway Daiquiri (as in Ernest):

Light rum
Fresh squeezed lime
Simple syrup
Served on the rocks

No blending required!

Thanks buddy! I love learning new drinks. :)

Bartending Underground Parties

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.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Got Stumped: Drink Recipes

Maybe its me or maybe it is the fact that I hadn't been a "real" bartender in a couple years. Here is a list of drinks that people have ordered from me in which I got stumped on. Stumped meaning I had to ask or look up the recipe. Don't laugh. I want to see how well you bartend after being away from the entire industry for two years. In no particular order:

Light rum
Dark rum
Grenadine (We don't carry this at our bar for some reason)

Slippery Nipple
Butterscotch schnapps

*Generally served as a shot.

Fuzzy Navel
Peach schnapps

*Served on ice.

Old Fashioned
Slice of orange

*Muddle the orange and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Fill glass with ice and add whiskey. Garnish with a cherry.

Tom Collins
Lemon juice
Soda water

*In a shaker, add ice, gin, lemon juice and sugar. Shake and pour into a collins glass. Add soda water. Garnish with a cherry and orange slice.

At least I remembered how to make a Kamikaze, Cosmo and a Long Island.

Drink Recipe: French Martini

Serve up in a martini glass

PS: I got to go home early tonight because its my birthday AND I have to work early in the morning.

Less than a week to go now....

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tired. One More Week To Go.

I have one more week to go of this two-job-craziness-not-having-a-day-off schedule. I am beyond exhausted. There are moments when I feel okay and well-rested and then there are days like today where my eyes wont stop burning and I can't stop yawning. Yesterday I had to be at work by 8:30am, work until 5 and then bartend from 6pm until 3am. I had a total of four hours sleep before I had to come in and work my day job today. Money is a great motivator.

Last night, we were slammed all night long. It wasn't even a normal night for us. Usually we are closed on Tuesdays, but we were open to a private event last night. Lots of champagne. Lots of mojitos. Lots of flippin credit cards. It seemed like every order I took wanted to pay with a credit card. As soon as I would get into my groove of things, something would slow me down like making two mojitos, pouring countless glasses of champagne or closing someone's credit card tab out. Nothing is more annoying then being slammed and having people repeatedly ask you for glasses of water and then not tip.

We ended up making decent money. I was there for 9.5 hours so I am glad that it was worth it. I even got a Moet t-shirt that I plan on wearing in the future. I love White Star. It's my favorite champagne of all time.

Some chick at the bar last night got mad at me for asking to see her id because her name was "Michael". Not Michelle, but Michael as in the boys name. I asked her if she would rather me not ask for her id and let anyone use her card. She still gave me attitude.

Another customer at the bar last night fell in love with me and bought me a glass of champagne. Sadly, I wasn't allowed to drink it, but I appreciated the gesture.

One more week of the double duty madness and then I will be a full-time bartender. It feels good to be back behind the bar again. I think I made the right choice. No, I know I made the right choice.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I Did It!

I went all balls out this afternoon and gave my boss my letter of resignation. Bye bye day job!! Hello dreams! I am really going for it. There is no turning back now. There is no more staying comfortable. I am bartending four nights a week and going to finally get a video production internship during the day. I am excited and scared at the same time. My boss was super supportive and was happy to see that I was leaving to pursue my dreams. I have never felt so excited and scared all at the same time in my life.

This is just the beginning.

Got The Job!

I got offered the bartending gig on my second night of training. And here I was sweating it all weekend wondering if I was going to get the job or not. I have been debating on whether I should put in my notice here at my full-time day job. I guess the only reason why I wouldn't is because I am scared that I wont make enough with my shifts. Technically, I need to make $200 a shift in order to make what I bring home during the day. I will be working four shifts a week. I bet I can do it. If I need to, I can always pick up an extra shift or get a part time job in the meantime. No sweat.

All I know is that I am miserable doing what I am doing now. I am not doing anything about pursuing my dreams here. I am always in a bad mood and wish I were anywhere but here. At least with bartending nights, I will be able to pursue my video production career and get the internship I need in order to build up my resume. Plus, I will be working a whole lot less. That means more time to focus on my zine and video projects.

I know deep in my heart I am making the right decision for me. I don't ever want to be stuck or forced to do something I don't want to be doing.

I am scared to give my notice to my boss, but it is going to happen today.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Training Night #2

Tonight went so much better. I felt so much more comfortable and at ease. I came in at 5 and had to set up the entire bar. It was no sweat. I like setting up the bar because you get extra time behind the bar to set it up how you like it. I made a lot more of the drinks off of the specialty cocktail menu. I am finally getting a lot of them down. I am showed once how to make the drink and I remember for the next time someone orders it. We even got fed at the beginning of the shift which was nice because I didn't eat all day. I was too nervous!

I guess I got tipped out from the night before too. I don't know how much because its in the safe. It isn't much but its a little something. I guess they really thought I did a good job. I am stoked. I wasn't expecting that at all.

Tonight, a table personally tipped me out through my manager. I couldn't think of a bigger compliment. And what a better person to tip me out through-my manager!! Speaking of manager, he had me make him a couple cocktails for him to try. I totally passed the test. He liked all of the drinks I made for him. That was a relief.

I am scheduled to come in tomorrow at 11 for the Sunday brunch. No one seems to like to work that shift. I don't think I will mind it. I get to wear whatever I want. I can order anything I want from the menu. Plus, it looks like I am getting all the tips. Well, me and my barback. I was told that it could be a hit or miss. Some Sundays you can make good money and other you don't make shit. Either way, I don't care. It's Sunday and I wont even be there for a full shift anyways. I will get out of there while the sun is still up. That's totally cool with me.

I got hired!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Training Night #1

Last night was my first night training at the new place. I have to say last night went down in history as being my worse night of bartending EVER. I showed up early and eager to get my training started. I tried to familiarize myself with the bar. I had been studying the specialty cocktail menu all day at work. I even went through and wrote down what was in each of the cocktails on flash cards. I skimmed the food menu a couple times, but studying the stuff on paper never truly prepares you for the real deal.

We had people at the bar right away ordering drinks. Vodka and gin martinis. I made a lot of the La Fresa drinks which was the strawberry drink on the specialty menu. Thankfully I got that drink down pat. Thank goodness. Every bar has their own way of doing things and places to put things. I felt like I had two left feet the entire night. I even managed to spray the bar with half a bottle of champagne. I soaked my bar, myself and the bartender training me. I thought for sure my chances at actually being a bartender at this spot would be over.

At the end of the night, the bartender training me told me I did a rad job. I was shocked. Happy, but shocked. She said that she could tell I knew how to bartend. I know the drinks and I know how the bar works. It was just a matter of learning how their bar worked and learning the bar's specialty drinks. Keep in mind, this bar's specialty drinks are labor intensive. Way beyond the common mojito. She gave me a new drink list and I was told to come back in for training Saturday night at 5 and for Sunday brunch at 11am. I guess if I did as shitty of a job as I thought I had done in my head, they wouldn't have asked me to come back.

The only question I had was when I would know if I got the job or not. I was told that I would know sometime next week. Until then, I must learn and absorb all the information I can and hopefully make a good impression. I know that I am not getting paid to train and don't even have a guarantee for the job. All I can do is do my best and hope that everything works out.

At first, I was a bit turned off by having to learn the labor intensive cocktails, but in all reality, this sort of experience will only make me a stronger bartender. Plus, once I'm in, I am in. I have really not been myself since I have been out of the industry. I kind of missed the social aspects, not to mention the money and flexible schedule. If I can get this place down pat, landing and completing a video production internship will be no sweat.

I am definitely headed in the right direction now. Grandma, please look out for me. I need your guidance and love now more than ever. I miss you every single day you aren't here!! :)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Got A Live Lead!

I saw a couple of ads on Craigslist over thw weekend for bartending positions. It turns out that one of the positions I applied for, I have friends who know the owner of one of the places. So today, I emailed the owner directly my bartender resume and cover letter. Now it's just a wait and see. The position itself is for the Thursday through Sunday shift. I would be very happy with that. Four shifts back to back. The sooner I get my days free, the sooner I can get a video production internship.

It will be nice to get back behind a bar again.

It pays to know people who know people. ;)