Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Business of Comped Drinks, Drink Tickets and Other Free Drinks

If you ever find yourself being given a comped drink of any sort whether it be the bartender buying you a drink or a promoter or bar manager giving you a drink ticket, consider yourself lucky. Free drinks are always an awesome thing. Keep in mind that free drinks are a gift, not a privilege. Obviously someone, somewhere on down the line thought you should be entitled to a free cocktail. Lucky you.

Comped drinks. Drink tickets. Free drinks. You may not have to pay for that round, but we (the bartenders) still have to make the drinks so please tip accordingly. In fact, since you aren't fronting the cash for the cocktail in the first place, show the bartender a little "extra" love and appreciation. Otherwise we are going to think you are bottom feeding pond scum, you will get served last and your drinks will only get weaker and weaker over the course of the night.

My rule of thumb and reasoning is if you can't afford to tip properly, you can't afford to go out so you might as well stay at home.


Friday, August 29, 2008

Ordering Appropriately

Doing something as simple as observing the traffic at a bar and ordering appropriately will not only speed up the process time of getting a drink in your hand, but it will greatly enhance your overall bar experience.

First and foremost, before you approach the bar, know your party's entire drink order. When the bartender looks at you and let's you know that it's your turn to place an order, have the drink order complete and your money ready. Don't look back at your friends to see what they want or else I will move on to the next customer who is ready to place their complete order.

Once you place your drink order with the bartender, don't add to it. This will only slow your bartender down. The more you slow us down, the longer it takes for us to get you a drink.

If you see that the bar is busy, another way to enhance your drink service is to order appropriately. At busy times, it's always best to order drinks where the name states all of the drink's ingredients such as vodka/soda, rum and coke, gin and tonic, tequila/sour, Redbull/vodka, etc. Busy times are not appropriate for lemon drops or mojitos. If I have to muddle or serve something up in a cocktail glass, it's going to take me that much longer to get your drinks to you. At times like these, bartenders also appreciate serving bottled beer and shots (not chilled of course). The faster we can serve your drinks, the faster you get them and the more money we make. It's a win-win situation all around.

When a bar isn't so busy, all bets are off. These are the times when it is appropriate to chat up your bartender and ask them for a drink recommendation. This is also when we will take our time and put a lot of pride into serving a labor intensive, muddled cocktail. I actually enjoy making labor intensive, muddled cocktails, but not when I have 100's of people staring at me waiting to be served.

Being a smart customer and gauging the activity level of the bar will only help enhance your bar experience. Please order appropriately.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Big Tippers Make My World Go Round

I noticed today going back in my blog that there haven't been a whole lot of positive entries lately. I don't want my dear readers to think I am one of those bitter bartenders who hates my time behind the bar. In fact, I have never been happier in my life, Bartending for a living is just icing on the cake for me at this point. I am really thankful that I work at such a fun place with such cool people. The customers aren't bad either. ;)

Tonight, I had an exceptional night, especially for it only being a Wednesday. Tonight was technically my Monday. I strongly feel that if your work week starts on a good foot, the whole week can only get better.

Let's face it. Big tippers make every bartender's world go round. Bartenders here in the U.S. make most of their money through the tips they earn because the hourly minimum wage we get sure doesn't pay the rent. So when someone comes in, is pleasant and fun to deal with all night long and leaves me a big tip at the end of my night, I am more than grateful. I am overjoyed and sometimes overcome with emotion. It doesn't happen very often when someone will tip higher than 20%. When it does happen, I remember their name, face and type of cocktail they drink because the next time they come into my bar, their first drink will be on me.

I had a couple different people tip me over 50% of their total bill tonight. 50%!! I haven't had that happen to me in a long time. One of the tips left me so confused, I approached the customer and verified that he left the right tip amount. He just hugged me and told me he loved me. I love you too Buddy!

For all of the crap I do put up with on a nightly basis, it sure does feel good to be handsomely rewarded once in awhile.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My Name is Not "Hey"

My name is not "Hey". When you are waiting at a crowded bar and desperately want to get the bartender's attention so you can get served next, jumping up and down, waving your hands and screaming "Hey!!" will only get you served last. If someone calls me "Hey", my reaction will depend on my current mood. If I am having a good night and this person is the first retarded customer of the night, I will smile at them as I am helping someone else and tell them that "Hey" is not my name. If I am three deep and I have been a rough night so far, I just might ignore their impatient ass. If I am really feeling like being a dick, I will make sure to help the person standing right next to them, next. Usually, I don't have too many problems with the "Heys". Once I quickly correct them on their manners, these customers usually learn to be patient and polite. Sometimes you just have to remind people that they need to be polite.

Last week, I had two girls come up to the bar and ask about our infused vodkas. After I explained to them what they were, they wanted to try one and asked for a mixer suggestion. I told them what I had in mind for them and then went to make their drink. When I came back, the girls already had another cocktail in front of them. I looked at them and then they looked at me with a guilty look on their face. Apparently as soon as I stepped away to make their drink, another bartender approached them and they double ordered.

In this situation, I could have easily gotten pissed off and told them a thing or two about how I felt. They not only wasted my time, but wasted alcohol. Instead, I took the opportunity to properly educate these two. I figured they wouldn't be a lost cause because as soon as I came back with their drink, they both knew they had screwed up. I explained to them that if they start a transaction with one bartender, then they need to end the same transaction with the same bartender, Otherwise, duplicate drinks are made. I think they were relived that I didn't go off on them. They apologized profusely and even told me they wanted to pay for both drinks. And on top of that, they tipped me well.

Sometimes, you just have to show them the way.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Apple Martini = Bitch

Being a bartender, I don't remember people's names the first time they are told to me, but I do remember a person's face and cocktails they order.

Bartenders judge you by the drinks you are ordering. Long Islands? You want to get drunk on the cheap and don't really care about the quality of your drink. Cosmos? You watch way too much Sex in the City. Jack and Coke usually screams frat boy. If you drink Fernet, I know you work somewhere here in the city in the service industry.

When a woman orders an apple martini from me, she always seems to be a broke ass bitch. Yeah I said it: broke ass bitch. This group of cocktail drinkers are bitchy, bossy, high maintenance and don't tip for a damn (if they tip at all). It's like she spent all of her money on the outfit she got at Forever 21 and didn't have any money leftover for her night out so naturally, she would be the first girl who would gladly chat up a random guy in hopes of scoring a free drink from him. Trust me, I see it all night long. I should know because I am the one making the drinks and taking the cash.

I don't know what it is about this cocktail that makes these women so bitchy. Could it be because of the hangover she always get the next morning from her syrupy sweet cocktail? I just know that most of the time when I serve a woman an apple martini, she is nothing but a bitch to me and it makes me want to slap her bitch ass face.

I am always open to meet someone who defies my drink stereotypes, but I have yet to meet any nice and considerate apple martini drinkers out there. Any bitches up for the challenge?

On the other hand, if a girl is drinking shots of Jack at my bar, she gets the big, double thumbs up from me. Over the years, I have met some of my best girlfriends through a bottle of Jack. Those girls are usually hardcore and always cool by me.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Fernet About It

If you are a bartender in San Francisco, chances are you love and live by the Fernet bottle. Fernet has instantly transformed me into a better mood during a rough shift. Fernet has helped me make it to the bitter end with a smile on my face. There is nothing like a shot of Fernet with a ginger back. It must be a San Francisco thing.

Just in case you didn't know:

Fernet Branca is a popular brand of amaro produced in Milan, Italy. It is a bitter, aromatic spirit made from over 40 herbs and spices, including myrrh, rhubarb, chamomile, cardamom, aloe, and saffron, with a base of grape distilled spirits, and colored with caramel coloring. The recipe is a secret, and was created by the young Maria Scala in 1845 in Milan as a medicine. Scala's name became Maria Branca through marriage, and the product's name was born. The Fernet-Branca is still produced in Milan by the company Fratelli Branca, overseen by the Branca family, though the recipe of the Italian product differs slightly from that of American bottles. Fernet-Branca is 40% alcohol by volume and is dark brown in color.

Fernet-Branca is usually served as a digestif after a meal, but may also be enjoyed with coffee and espresso, or mixed into coffee and espresso drinks. It may be enjoyed neat at room temperature or on the rocks (with ice).

Widely popular in Argentina, it is often taken as a national beverage. The most common preparation is with Coca-Cola. To make a Fernet and Coke, use a tall glass filled with ice, then pour the Fernet up to 1/3 of the glass, top off with Coke. Serve with the can of Coke and a straw.

Fernet has recently gained popularity the Czech Republic where it is served as a shot, or with tonic in a tall glass.

More recently, it has become very popular in San Francisco. The local bars often serve Fernet as a shot followed by a ginger ale chaser.

Fernet gained additional national visibility when it was reported that it is the favorite drink of 2007 U.S. Open winner Ángel Cabrera.

The drink was also the subject of a comedy routine of the same name from Bill Cosby's album Fat Albert, in which he describes his own experiences with the drink.

Because of its mysterious list of ingredients, there are a number of home remedies that call for Fernet-Branca, including treatment of menstrual and gastro-intestinal discomfort, hangovers, baby colic, and (once upon a time) cholera.

**Thanks Wikipedia

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Could We Have Made It Anymore Clear?

True story. Sunday brunch never fails to bring in a wide variety of characters. They all seem to really dig our Build-Your-Own-Bloody-Mary bar. One guy this past weekend was rather upset and asked his server why we didn't have the bitters bottle clearly labeled. Of course she was confused and asked the man to point out the bottle to her so she could see how we had it labeled. He grabbed the bitters bottle that still had the original bitters bottle label on it just like I have shown in the picture here. At this point, what could the server do? Read it to him? I think she ended up just walking away.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Make Me Something Good.

I can't stand it when people tell me to make them something good. This statement could mean that you automatically assume I make shitty drinks and want me to step it up a notch just for you. Or maybe you don't know what you are in the mood for. But if I ask you which spirit you would like in your cocktail, don't look at me like a deer in headlights. Then I will know that you are just an idiot who doesn't know squat about cocktails and are just trying to be a pain in my ass.

If you aren't sure what you are in the mood for, cool. Give me some idea as to what you do like to drink. You don't even have to break it down into spirits. Even telling me the type of cocktails you like can give me direction. Telling me to make you something good is like telling me you need oxygen to breathe. Duh. People don't normally request disgusting tasting cocktails unless they are ordering Liquid Cocaine shots. But then again, people who order those drinks are in a class all of their own.

If you come across as one of those people who don't know squat, but are trying your hardest to pretend that know what you are talking abut and are trying to be all fancy pants/pain in my ass about it, you better believe I am going to make you a $15 cocktail. Just call it my "Pain in the Ass" price.

When I do make you something good, be sure to show your appreciation in the form of a decent tip.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Big Bartender Pet Peeve

A Big Bartender Pet Peeve

Skip ahead to 2:45. This is a big pet peeve of mine. My fruit tray is not your personal buffet people!

Nobody wants your nasty hands and germs on their drink garnishes.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Friendly Bartenders

There is some unspoken rule here in San Francisco. Most San Francisco bartenders make Fernet their drink of choice. It's a total local, industry thing. I don't know where or why it exactly started, but I am glad it did. I heart Fernet.

I have a new favorite, local bartender. I met him last night. I got off of my shift last night early because it was slow. Instead of going home and going to bed to rest up for my Sunday brunch shift today, I went out. The club I went to was packed. I headed to the side bar only to find one bartender and a packed house. I patiently waited my turn and ordered when asked. I wish my customers would do this more often, especially the ones on Thursday nights!!

I couldn't help but like this bartender. He was friendly, had a huge smile on his face, moved fast and drank shots of Fernet with me. It was so awesome. I love meeting bartenders like him. They rule!!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Weird Dream

I had a really weird dream last night. In my dream, I had gone back to bartending at a nightclub I used to work at. When I got to my well, I looked around and noticed that there wasn't much alcohol in my well. In fact, 3/4 of my storage area was stocked with frozen food like Hot Pockets, frozen buffalo wings, fajitas and basically anything frozen you could throw into a microwave and eat. I was obviously confused.

I went up to my manager who was actually one of the owners of the bar I am working at currently (I am telling you this was a strange dream!) and asked him what the deal was with all of the frozen food in my well. He told me that they were selling more food behind the bar because people were asking for it. I reminded him that this was just a bar, a busy nightclub in fact and that we were bartenders here to serve and sell drinks, not microwaved food. I tried explaining to him that we could make more money selling alcohol then this other crap. He refused to hear me out and told me to deal with it. I told him that I couldn't take it anymore and would not work in a bar like this and walked out.

Side Note: I have NEVER walked out on a job before ever. I have always put in a notice or at least waited until the end of my shift.

What kind of nightclub would rather their bartenders serve frozen, microwaved food than alcohol? I wonder what my dream means? Is someone putting impossible or ridiculous expectations on me?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Bar Rot?

Last week, my right ring finger started to get really dry and itchy. Then a couple days ago, the dry and itchiness started to spread to my middle right finger.

What the hell is this?

It could be from my fingers being submerged in water and sanitizer while washing dishes at work. It could also be from excessive exposure to lemons and limes.

I tried researching online what this could possibly be, but I wont be truly sure what it is until I see my doctor.

Just a gentle reminder for me to wear finger condoms at work.

This sucks. Bye bye pretty hands.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


It looks like this guy came into the bar on Christmas and drank 2 shots of Jameson and an IPA, broke the toilet and then couldn't pay his tab. He must have been plastered and broke by the time he got to this place to begin with. Now the poor bastard is forbidden from ever coming to this establishment again.

Shame on the bartender for even serving him. Sometimes Christmas can be a rough time for folks, but damn. I haven't had anyone this obnoxious in awhile. I hope I didn't just jinx myself.

Toothpicks Are Not A Fashion Accessory

Women who have toothpicks in their mouth are not cute. Guys who have toothpicks in their mouth aren't either. Who decided this was a cool thing to do? Stop using my toothpicks on the bar as a fashion accessory. It's just plain gross!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Two Double Shifts In A Row

You want to know why I have had to work two double shifts in a row this weekend? One of our bartenders quit yesterday. He quit at about 2 pm when he was supposed to show up for a 4 pm shift. No worries. I was the girl to the rescue.

I can't say I am surprised. I had a feeling that was going to happen. We were overstaffed and he didn't quite click with the bar manger. A little notice would have been nice though, but I ain't complaining. Rent is paid and I got money in the bank. Shoe Weee!!!

I am really looking forward to my lazy three days off this week. All I want to do is write and finish up the third issue of my zine. I don't want to shower or put on an ounce of makeup. I am such a dirty, closet nerd!

Nightmare Night

Last night behind the bar was the kind of night I have nightmares about. It was weird because just the night before, I had a dream that I was a server who got slammed and kept getting everyone's order all messed up. A little foreshadowing perhaps?

Last night's shift wasn't my worse night of bartending ever, but it was pretty close. First of all, I had to work a double (4pm to 3:30am). Working the double was the easy part. Over the course of the whole night, we ran out of everything: Grey Goose, Kettle, Belvedere, Fernet, Don Julio, Patron, ice, ones, fives, glassware, manpower. Our bar got slammed at 11 pm and didn't let up until 1 am. My side of the bar was deep with thirsty people all night long. And just as Murphy's Law would have it, it seemed like most of the people I helped were very high maintenance with their double cadillac margaritas, cosmos, lemon drops and chilled shots of whatever we had left to pour. It was so frustrating. All I wanted to do was go fast, but the customers I had kept making me go slow, not only with their order and their add-on orders but with their credit cards.

Have I mentioned how much I hate credit cards? One girl wanted me to split her tab on to two credit cards in the middle of the rush. I could have slapped her.

We made it through the night and I ended up making decent money so it was worth the pain and drama. I just hate bartending nights like that. I am a hard worker, but I have to be prepared for something like that in order to feel good about my night. I think every bartender would feel the same way.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Who Are They Talking To?

I want to know who the cabbies are talking to as they drive you around the city at night. Other cabbies?

Last night my cabbie was talking to someone about packing up the cooler with plenty of juice and fruit. I wonder where he was planning on going. Camping? Inquiring minds want to know.

Sometimes I Feel Like A Water Facet

And it's always right before we stop serving for the night. It is like people realize all of a sudden that the lights are about to come on and they have to rehydrate themselves. Some of them wished that the water could sober them up, but we all know the only thing that sobers you up is time.

So right around 1:30, I always get a crowd of people who ask for water. Asking for water is fine, but please keep in mind I am still providing you a service. Throwing me a dollar here or there is always greatly appreciated. If you are one of those people who only orders glasses of water all night long and doesn't tip at all, I think you are annoying.

Moral of the story is the more high maintenance you are, the more you should tip. If I have paying and tipping customers at my bar and you yell at me in the middle of another transaction to ask me for a glass of water, you will just get ignored. Seriously. How would you react if I interrupted you like that at work while you were in the middle of doing something else? You would be pretty annoyed too.

I remember one time working behind the bar when I was really busy and this guy asked me for water. He did not specify bottled or tap so I gave him a bottle and told him it would be five bucks. Yes, that is how much we charged for bottle water at that bar. The guy told me no way and asked for tap water. By that time, I was already onto the next set of paying customers. He asked me again and actually got into my face about it. I stopped what I was doing, took the bottled water back and told him he wither paid me five bucks or he could go drink out of a sink in the bathroom. He didn't have to get into my face over a glass of water. He called me a bitch and without missing a beat, I motioned to a nearby security guard who ushered the guy right out of the club.

I felt kind of bad about having him kicked out over water, but he did call me a bitch and that's where I draw the line.

Don't piss off bartenders over glasses of water. Just ask nicely and be sure to show your appreciation through a measly tip.