Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Customer Who Just Didn't Know

I think everyone should hold a service industry job at least once in their life. That way, everyone would know what a service industry person has to go through on a regular basis. People would learn to be better customers and treat the people who serve them well.

With that said, I had a customer who came into the restaurant ten minutes before we were closing. I happily greeted him and took his drink order right away. It was a rather slow night, my bar was near being closed up and I had nothing else left to do for the evening. How long could one drink take, right?

The customer ordered a mixed drink and sat at the bar, staring at me. In addition to staring at me, the customer was constantly stirring the ice in his drink with his straw. Since it was only the customer and I in the bar, I could hear the ice being swirled around inside the glass loud and clear. I didn't know what was more annoying, the sound of the ice being stirred in the glass or the guy staring at me. I just tried my best to ignore him and the ice and continued on with cleaning up and closing down the bar.

After awhile, he tried to make small talk with me. He told me that he noticed everyone was clocking out and asked what time we closed. I told him we closed at 11, which would be in five minutes. Not catching on, he went back to stirring the ice in his drink.


Now if he had ordered dinner and some wine, then staying open past closing time would have been worthwhile. But this guy had one drink and instead of drinking it, he continued to stir the ice around and around inside the glass.

It was obvious that this guy was lonely and probably had a few drinks earlier in the evening. He told me twice that he had walked five miles. Wow! Five miles? Really? Like I cared. I had been working since 4:30 that night. I had to get up early in the morning for my other job. I didn't care. I just wanted to go home and go to bed.

I finally ran out of things to do behind the bar so all I had left to do was stand behind the bar and stare right back at him. It wasn't until then that the customer asked me if he was holding me up from going home. I told him (with a smile) that he was my last customer. Finally, he got the hint, slurped up the remainder of his drink, thanked me for serving him and left.

I thought it was really interesting that despite seeing all the employees clocking out, being told that the restaurant was to close in five minutes and seeing that he was the only customer in the place, the only thing that clued him in was me staring right back at him.

Here's a Good Customer tip: Good customers don't come into a bar or restaurant five minutes before closing. If you have ever worked in the service industry, you would know how freaking painful it is when customers do that and you wouldn't do it to anyone else. And if you did, you would make it worth that person's while by tipping extra and not taking your sweet time!

Some people just don't know.

Monday, March 30, 2009

San Francisco Bartender Examiner

Yours truly (ME!!!) has been selected to be the San Francisco Bartender Examiner on Examiner.com. That means in addition to writing for my blog, I will be writing three to four articles on bartending for Examiner.com and be getting paid. My first paid writing gig. So freakin excited!!!

Be sure to check out my page on the Examiner at:
San Francisco Bartender Examiner Page

I am still getting my account setup so keep checking back at the page for new articles coming this week.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

I Smell Cheese

With Disaronno it should be more like an almond flavor/smell, but after seeing this commercial, you would swear it was suppose to be cheese.

First, the bartender grabs the martini glass by the body of the glass, not the stem. Big no-no!! Why would you take the time and energy to chill the drink only to warm it with your hands before giving it to the customer? Also, what customer wants someone's fingerprints all over the area in which they are going to drink their drink from?

Secondly, I can't speak for other bartenders, but when a customer reaches out to grab me, they never receive a warm reception back. The bartender in the commercial gets grabbed by his female customer and it looks like he jizzed in his pants (total SNL reference there). I have zero tolerance for people grabbing me. If you need my attention or want to "holla at me", you can wait until I make eye contact with you. Just don't try and touch me. It's weird.

Then the female customer grabs an ice cube and tries her best to look seductive as she licks the ice while staring at the bartender, creepy!! I guess that might work for guy bartenders, but if a guy customer did that to me, I think I would laugh in his face. Then I would mock him by grabbing a piece of ice and licking it right back at him. Maybe even put the ice cube in my mouth and then spit it out in his direction.

Cheesy commercial but maybe that's what they were going for. The uber cheesiness makes the commercial memorable and makes me laugh every time I see the bottle behind the bar or at the school. Damn marketing!!!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Open Bar

I want to know: what's the deal with open bars?

I mean, I know what an open bar is. An open bar is usually a private party that rents out a bar for a group of people for a certain amount of time and has agreed to pay for all of the drinks served during the party so that no one in the group has to pay for their drinks. I get that part.

What I don't understand is, why the people who drink at the open bar parties don't tip? I have worked several "open bar" type parties and it's a common (often times annoying) theme among all of these types of parties that the people drinking for free just don't tip. I find that, in general, people who drink for free never seem to tip. It's not just the open bar parties, but people who have drink tickets rarely tip too (unless they work in the industry).

I would think the less someone has to pay for a drink, the more they would tip. That would make sense, right? I guess in order for people to tip (I am talking about the general population here, not industry folks), they have to actually reach into their wallets and grab money.

It's the weirdest and most frustrating thing. And it never fails. As soon as the open bar party ends and people have to dig in their wallets to pay for the drinks, the tips start coming in.

A bartender still needs to make a living, open bar, drink tickets or not. So please, ALWAYS tip your bartenders. And if you don't have to pay for a drink, then you should have no problems leaving a measly tip. It doesn't even have to be outrageous. Just a little something.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Rent Shirts

This is about the time of the month where girls working in the bar industry start busting out their rent shirts. If you are a female who works in the bar industry where most of your money comes from tips, you own a rent shirt. You might even have three or four. You could be even wearing one of them tonight if you are working.

What is a rent shirt? Everyone knows that rent is due at the beginning of the month. Sometimes the end of the month can be the slowest time of the month for a bartender because everyone is getting ready to pay their rent on the first. This is where the rent shirts come in. A rent shirt is a shirt that females wear to help increase the cash flow behind the bar. A rent shirt helps generate more donations to one's tip jar. In an essence, a rent shirt is generally a low cut, somewhat revealing top that females wear behind the bar in order to help entice men (and sometimes women) to tip them more.

Now don't go crying sexist and feminism on me. I happen to be a proud feminist in that I feel like men and women should be equal. So when it comes to earning money behind the bar, it's fair game. Hey, if a guy bartender can flirt with all the lady customers, I can most definitely wear my rent shirt at the end of the month.

I Polish Glasses In My Sleep

Seriously. I polish glasses in my sleep. I polish so many glasses at work that I dream about it. It's always really annoying when you dream about work because when I'm not at work, I don't really want to think about work. I'm there enough as it is.

I know with every bar I have ever worked at, I have always had a certain amount of side work. Side work is just special duties that you have to complete each shift in addition to the normal job duties. These especially come in handy when it's slow. Some of my all-time favorite side duties? Cutting garnishes and polishing glasses. I love doing side work where I can just let my mind wander and think about nothing in particular. I like to save all of my energy for paying customers.

Does it make me weird that I actually find a little joy in my side work? I don't think it's the actual work itself that I enjoy, but the fact that I can let myself doze off mentally for a sec behind the bar.

Hey, everyone is entitled to some sort of mental recharge at some point during their shift. I hope I dream about something else tonight besides polishing glasses. I know I already got paid to polish my fair share today.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


People ask me all the time how long it took me to learn all the drink recipes I know and to feel 100% comfortable working behind the bar. When I first started working behind a bar, I didn't have a clue as to what I was serving. I picked up all my knowledge on the job. The person training me told me that I wouldn't feel comfortable working behind the bar for at least six weeks. He was right.

If a customer ordered something, I would have to stop and ask the bartender I was working with for the recipe. Then I would write down the recipe in my own bartender bible so I would have it for future reference. Sometimes, I would even have to ask the customer how to make the drink they were ordering. Thankfully, I had customers that loved showing me the ropes. They got a kick out of teaching me how to make their cocktails the way they liked them. Hey, the customer can be right in some situations. ;)

Honestly, the only way I really learned all of the drink recipes over the years is thru repetition. Making those same drinks, over and over again. It's the same thing as when you start bartending at a new bar and need to learn the bar's specialty cocktails. After you make the same drink a few times, the recipe clicks in your head and becomes engraved up there.

Nowadays when I start working behind a new bar, I don't feel 100% comfortable for about a month or so. Every place has their own way of doing things and their own way of making things. Just because you learn something one way at one bar, doesn't mean it's going to work for the new bar. You always need to allow for time to adjust to those new ways at the new place.

Just when you think you know all there is to know about bartending, you start at a new bar and feel like the new kid all over again. At first I hated that aspect of bartending, but now I am learning to love it. It helps you grow into a better bartender.

Expand those horizons and get out of your comfort zone.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Why Is It My Fault?

I hate it when customers yell at me for not having their favorite brand of "name any spirit here" stocked behind the bar. As if it's my fault. I am only the bartender. I don't do the ordering. I just make drinks.

Friday, March 20, 2009

How to Become a Bartender with No Experience

Article: How to Become a Bartender with No Experience Written by Brian Williams

*I agree with most of this article, MOST. Read my two cents below:

"You can’t get a job without bartending experience."
I agree with the author. There are some bars out there who only want experienced bartenders. There are also plenty of bars out there who want new blood. Bars want the new blood so they can train them how to be the bartenders they want them to be. There are some bartenders out there who have plenty of experience, but have lots of bad habits and shitty attitudes. New blood is excited to just get behind the bar and are usually anxious to learn.

"Bartenders need to know hundreds of drink recipes."
I agree with the author again. Don't get overwhelmed and discouraged if you don't know every single drink out there. News flash: No one knows all of the drinks out there. It's impossible. There are new drinks created all the time. How could one possibly know them all? Besides, as long as you have the basics down, you can pretty much make any drink out there. If I get customers who order drinks that I have no idea what they are (trust me, it happens every now and then), I just ask them. Customers are always more than happy to tell you exactly how they want you to make their drink. Some bartenders will fake it because they are too embarrassed to admit that they don't know how to make the drink. I call nonsense. I would much rather know how to make the drink correctly than to guess and have it sent back. When in doubt, look it up in a recipe book or Google the recipe on the computer in the office. That is if you are really worried about it.

"The money is in the Nightclubs."
Agreed again. I know this from personal experience of working in a nightclub myself for three years. It all depends on the club you work in. In some clubs, bartenders can make bank (Hello Vegas!). In some clubs, you might have 15 bartenders on each night and have to split the tips evenly. That means if you have a customer who tips you a hundred dollar bill, you would have to throw that bill in the tip jar and split it up 15 ways. Sad, but true. Hey, if you don't like it, find another bar to work in. It's that simple. Every bar has a different policy on how tips are split up and distributed. Find a bar that makes you happy and wealthy!

"You have to serve or barback before you can bartend."
Once again, I totally agree with the author. I have never barbacked a day in my life. In fact, I learned how to bartend, on the job, behind the bar. I think if I would have went to bartending school, my life would have been a while lot easier. But hey, some of us have to learn the hard way. That's just the way it is.

"You don’t need a resume for a bartending job."
Hell yes you need a resume, for any type of job you apply for. I agree with the author on this one as well.

"Bartending requires certification."
This is where the author and I differ. Having a bartender certification is usually never required in order to bartend, but the author of the article totally discredits bartending schools. I disagree. I am an instructor at a bartender school and I feel like the information we provide to our students is invaluable. I wish I would have began my bartending career with the information that is provided to our students during the two-week course. It would have saved me a whole lot of heartache. But to each his own. There are some people out there who really dig bartending schools. There are also people out there who snub their noses at bartending schools and insist that everyone must learn on the job. In my mind, knowledge is power. I take it anyway I can get it, school or on the job. I aim to learn something new everyday.

"You need to know somebody in order to get a bartending job."
Eh, this depends. You know the saying, "it's all about who you know." This is true in some cases. Bar owners and managers would much rather hire someone they know and trust, but there are plenty of qualified people out there who make wonderful bartenders. You just have to present yourself as a ready and able bartender during your interview. I always tell people, bartending is 10% drinks and 90% personality. If you can charm a bar owner or manager with your personality, you can probably charm customers into coming back to the bar over and over again. That alone will get you a job behind any bar. Any monkey can make a drink. Monkeys can't talk to or charm customers. Food for thought.

Overall, I liked the article. What do you think?

Naked Lady Beer

Article: Australian beer does the clothing removal for you

Stolen from/written by Andrea Grimes
Blog: Heartless Doll


When normal people have nightmares, they dream about stuff like monsters and boogeymen. Not me! Ever since I started bartending many moons ago, my nightmares now consist of the worse night you could ever imagine working behind a bar. I am talking about 100's of people standing at the bar, staring at me while they wait for me to take their drink order, I am running out of every liquor that I have stocked behind the bar, I run out of change, the server drink tickets are stacking up, my barback is nowhere to be found and I have no other bartender working with me behind the bar. In my nightmares, I never get caught up with all of my drink orders. I only keep falling farther and farther behind. I get so far behind that I don't even look up to make eye contact with anyone waiting at the bar because I am scared that they all are going to yell at me for not being fast enough.

I usually only have nightmares after a really busy shift, even if the busy shift went really smooth. It's like my body finally relaxes from the fast paced evening and now that I am sleeping, my mind has time to reflect on the evening and reflect on how badly it could have gone.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Slow Nights...

I strongly feel that the slow nights take way more energy out of you than the fast ones do. With fast nights, you don't have time to look at the clock. You are too busy working that time flies and the next thing you know, you are closing down your bar, balancing your drawer and counting your tips.

With slow nights, it seems like you are always checking the time every ten minutes. When you aren't busy checking the time, you are looking for something to do, stock or clean. My old boss used to say, "When there is time to lean, there is time to clean." There is always something that needs cleaning behind the bar!

I think the main reason why slow nights seem to suck more energy out of you than the fast nights is because you have a lot more time to think about how tired you are. And of course it's on the slow nights when someone always comes in right before closing. Someone whom has obviously never worked in the service or restaurant industry before.

I don't know about you, but those stupid slow nights make me extra hungry. I eat at work out of boredom and I need to knock that off.

Anyone else out there feelin me?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Debunking Guinness Myths

Here is an interesting article I found on debunking 10 Guinness myths.

Hope everyone had a safe and sane St. Patty's Day!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


The first time I made a "Beautiful", I didn't know that there was even a cocktail called a "Beautiful". I learned the hard way. Here is the funny story.

A few years ago, I was bartending in a busy nightclub here in the city. On many of those nights I spent behind this particular bar, I had to deal with guys and sometimes girls trying to come on to me. Most of the time, the come ons were over-the-top cheesy and sometimes downright embarassing (for the suitor).

It's inevitable behind the bar. People LOVE bartenders.

On one of those nights, I saw this tall guy standing in front of my well. He seemed nice enough. Sort of the quiet type. You can never seem to hear the quiet types over the loud music when they try to tell you their drink order. I find myself having to ask them to repeat themselves over and over again before I can hear their drink order correctly.

When the tall, quiet guy stepped up to my bar, I heard him say that I was beautiful. At first I pretended like I didn't hear him. Then he repeated himself, "Beautiful!" I didn't want to be rude so I thanked him and asked him what he would like to drink. But all I kept hearing this guy say was "beautiful" over and over again. Ugh. Not what I wanted to deal with on a busy night. Each time I asked him to repeat his drink order, I kept hearing the same answer, "beautiful." Finally, there must have been a break in the music because tall, quiet guy stepped up closer to the bar and in a louder voice said, "Beautiful. It's a drink. Hennessey and Grand Marnier. In a snifter glass if you have one."

I felt like the biggest asshole. The whole time I thought he was trying to come on to me and really, he was just trying to tell me what he wanted to drink. I apologized to tall, quiet guy repeatedly and even bought the drink for him.

It's because of him that I will never, NEVER forget that a Beautiful is an actual cocktail and not always a compliment directed towards me.

Thanks tall, quiet guy!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Writers Block

I have seemed to have stumbled upon a bad case of writers block.

Help! I've fallen and I can't get up.

I hope something funny and memorable happens at work tonight.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

It Happens to the Best of Us

Even though I am going on my sixth year of bartending, I still occasionally dump drinks all over my shoulder when I shake them. Like tonight. I was shaking two drinks over each of my shoulders (one drink in each hand) and one of the drinks decided it wanted to be a part of my outfit and took a dump all over the left side of my body. I was left sticky and embarrassed. Everyone sitting at the bar got quite a show. No one was hurt except for my ego, but only for a second. I have quick recovery behind the bar.

Never a dull moment at my bar, that's for sure.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Stole This From SFist.com....

"Bars and Booze Doing Well in Bad Economy"

People self-medicate in tough times. Good for me. Not so good for them. I stole this article off the SFist.com website. Lots of truth to it so read it.

PS: Lucky 13 on Market and Church serves Goldfish instead of boring old pretzels. You just have to ask.

Just For Kicks

I was browsing online, the definition of a bartender according to Wikipedia (just for kicks) and here is what it said:

Totally copied from Wikipedia

A bartender (barman, barkeeper, barmaid, mixologist, tapster among other names) serves beverages behind a bar in a bar, pub, tavern, or similar establishment. This usually includes alcoholic beverages of some kind, such as beer (both draft and bottled), wine, and/or cocktails, as well as soft drinks or other non-alcoholic beverages. He/She "tends the bar". A bartender may own the bar they tend or be simply an employee. Barkeeper carries a stronger connotation of being the purveyor i.e. ownership. [1] In addition to their core beverage-serving responsibility, bartenders also:

* take payment from customers (and sometimes the waiters or waitresses);
* maintain the liquor, garnishes, glassware, and other supplies or inventory for the bar (though some establishments have barbacks who help with these duties);

In establishments where cocktails are served, bartenders are expected to be able to properly mix hundreds to thousands of different drinks.

Bartenders also usually serve as the public image of the bar they tend, contributing to as well as reflecting the atmosphere of the bar. In some establishments focused strictly on the food, this can mean the bartender is all but invisible. On the other extreme, some establishments make the bartender part of the entertainment, expected perhaps to engage in flair bartending or other forms of entertainment such as those exemplified in the films Cocktail and Coyote Ugly. Some bars might be known for bartenders who serve the drinks and otherwise leave a patron alone while others want their bartenders to be good listeners and offer counseling (or a "shoulder to cry on") as required. Good bartenders help provide a steady clientele by remembering the favored drinks of regulars, having recommendations on hand for local nightlife beyond the bar, or other unofficial duties. They are sometimes called upon for answers to a wide variety of questions on topics such as sports trivia, directions, or the marital status of other patrons.

In regions where tipping is the norm, bartenders depend on tips for most of their income. Bartenders are also usually responsible for confirming that customers are of the legal drinking age before serving them alcohol.

I think my favorite part of the definition is the "unofficial duties". I actually had a guy ask me the marital status of one of our servers last week. I gave him the safe answer: "I don't know."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Anchor Steam Brewery, SF

I don’t like to drink beer, but I have to know a lot about it. As a bartender and a bartender school instructor, I not only serve and sell beer, but I also teach people who take my class about beer. I lecture my classes each week on how to pour a proper pint of beer, what a perfect Guinness pour looks like, the differences between a lager and an ale and why Hefeweizen comes garnished with a lemon. When my customers come into the bar and ask for a beer, I have to be ready to suggest a type of beer depending on their tastes and what we have in stock.

So in an attempt to educate myself more about the world of beer and hopefully develop a healthy palate for beer, I recently went on the Anchor Steam Brewery tour on Potrero Hill. The hour and a half tour of the brewery took us on three of the four floors in the brewery showing the entire process of how Anchor Steam produces their beer all the way to the packaging and shipping room.

The best part of the tour was the two-hour tasting. In the tasting room, Anchor Steam provided four of their beers on tap. While everyone in the tour group tasted all of the different beers, the brew master described the different flavors found inside each of the beers and encouraged everyone in the group to ask questions about the Anchor Steam company, its history and beer producing in general.

The Anchor Steam Brewery is truly a beer lover’s heaven. And as a non-beer drinker educator and seller myself, I found the tour extremely interesting, informative, and invaluable.

Friday, March 6, 2009

7th Annual Best Bartender in the Bay Contest

I found this to be very fitting with one of the posts I put up yesterday about how some bartenders think they are gods. Here it is, the 7th annual Best Bartender in the Bay Contest sponsored by the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

Follow this link to vote for your favorite bartenders

Hahahahah! You can't vote for me because you don't even know my real name or where I work.

My vote for "craziest bartender"? Any of those guys who bartend at Bourbon and Branch. Those guys are AMAZING!!! Fast and talented. I saw one guy strain and fine strain all with one hand. I was impressed.

"Funniest bartender"? Mean Gene at Bloom's on Potrero Hill of course.

Go vote!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Cocktail-the movie

Remember this movie from the 80's? I know I do. It certainly didn't motivate me to become a bartender because at the time this movie came out, I was only 13. Not even thinking about alcohol. I didn't even have my first drink until my 21st birthday and even then I didn't become well versed with things behind the bar until I was 25 or so.

Interesting poem that Tom Cruise rattles off while standing on top of the bar. He manages to fit a lot of popular drink names into his speech (Sex on the Beach, Orgasm, Alabama Slammer, Kamikaze, Singapore Sling, etc.) Then after his little show on the bar top, he hops down and does some fancy flair bartending for a cheering crowd. Some people dig the whole flair bartending thing. I don't. Look how long it took him to make the one blue drink for the lady with the camera (AKA: Gina Gershon).

Take a look for yourselves...

Is It Obvious?

The other day I was waiting at the bus stop to go to work and I was talking about the bus line to the other people who were also waiting. I was blabbing on and on about how the stupid bus (and it only seems to be this particular line) is always early. In the MUNI system, a bus being early is usually unheard of, but not the 19. This bitch always comes early and it drives me nuts.

Anyways, this older lady piped up and told me thanks for the information and that it was good to know. Now she knows to get to the stop 10 minutes early. Then she asked me if I was a teacher. I told her yes. When she asked me which grade, I laughed and told her that I teach at a bartending school. I teach people how to make drinks. She said that it sounded like a really fun job. Then she told me she knew I was a teacher and a good one at that because she is old and could hear me perfectly clear.

Does that really mean I am a good techer? Maybe I am just a loud mouth? Or maybe it's from all of those years and having to communicate with a hard-of-hearing grandma.

RIP Grandma Disney. She is the reason why I write...

Who Do They Think They Are?

An interesting point was brought up yesterday that I also agree with. Why do some bartenders out there think they are gods? Bartenders make drinks, not miracles.

I have had my fair of "fans" over the years. I appreciate people out there who enjoy the drinks I make and get excited when I make something special just for them. I don't look at bartending as a popularity contest or use it as my dating pool. It just happens to be a really fun way to make a living.

I would also never refer to myself as a mixoligist. I'm just a bartender. No one ever says "Hey Mixologist!"

I try to keep it real dawg.

Don't Mix!

Being sick and bartending don't mix. There is no such thing as paid sick time in the bartending world. You might get lucky to get your shift covered, but don't count on it.

I spent all day yesterday in bed trying to recover from an all-over body weakness, horrible deep cough and the sneezes.

Daytime TV is boring. Notice how all the commercials are about specialty, expensive schools (culinary, health care and automotive)? Also a bulk of the commercials advertise personal injury lawyers and insurance companies. It's like the commercials are telling the daytime viewing audience to get off of their asses and do something. Don't even get me started on the wack ass soap operas and talk shows.

I'm starting to feel somewhat normal again.

Being sick sucks!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Customer Service

Working as a bartender, your job revolves around customer service. Your job is essentially to take of the customer. You make drinks, suggest items off the menu, and cater to the customer whatever they might desire. If you make a mistake as a bartender, it's your responsibility to fess off, apologize and correct your mistake.

Today I was having lunch at the bar of a restaurant. I enjoy eating at the bar because you get to watch all the action and usually get served faster. My bartender misrung my order so when my food came out, it wasn't what I had ordered. I had to send it back to the kitchen. I hate having to send stuff back to the kitchen, but if it's wrong then it's wrong.

What made the situation shitty was that the bartender made it sound like it was my fault. Instead of apologizing for his mistake, he told me he heard me say something else. He should have just apologized right away. Then for the rest of meal, he ignored me. Never once checked on me.

I realize that some customers out there are a pain the ass. I get that. But there is no reason for a bartender to get upset with a customer when it was clearly the bartender who made the mistake in first place.