Sunday, May 31, 2009

John or Tom Collins?

Ever wonder where the drink Tom Collins got it's name? Ever wonder what the difference between a Tom Collins and a John Collins was? According to "Bartending For Dummies" written by Ray Foley (of Bartender magazine), he states:

"John Collins, a waiter at Lipmmer's Old House on Coduit Street in Hanover Square, England invented this drink. The name Tom was used instead of John because the drink was made with Old Tom Gin. Today, a John Collins is made with whiskey."

So there is a Tom Collins, Vodka Collins and a John Collins which consists of:

1 1/2 oz of gin, vodka or whiskey
(depends on which drink you want to make)
Fill with collins mix

*To make collins mix, you just add equal parts sweet & sour and soda water.
**To make fresh sweet & sour, just add fresh lemon juice and simple syrup (or sugar)

There is a really cool bar here in San Francisco called John Colins located in the SOMA area located off of 2nd Street between Mission and Howard, on Natoma. The place is pretty awesome. Last time I went, a dj was playing really good underground hiphop, my shot of Fernet came to me in a shot glass that was shaped like a boot and the crowd seemed mature and fun.

Apparently this cool little bar is going to have to relocate to another spot in the SOMA, sometime this summer due to the Transbay Terminal project. Read all about the move HERE.

Friday, May 29, 2009

It's Five O'Clock Somewhere

Happy Hour is defined by Wikipedia as being:

"... a marketing term for a period of time in which a restaurant or bar offers discounts on alcoholic drinks, such as beer, wine and cocktails.

Typically it is in the late afternoon Monday through Thursday, sometimes Friday, usually taking place at some period between 4 PM and 7 PM. This promotion is intended to boost business on what may otherwise be a slow day. In most cases the "happy hour" lasts longer than a single hour.

The term Happy Hour also is commonly used to describe the gathering of work colleagues at a restaurant or bar after work hours, including outside the period of 4 PM and 7 PM."

Did you know that:

Happy hour has been illegal in the Republic of Ireland since 2003 under the Intoxicating Liquor Act.

Glasgow has banned happy hours to reduce binge drinking

In 1984, the U.S. Military abolished happy hours at military base clubs.

Massachusetts was one of the first U.S. States to implement a state-wide ban on Happy Hours in 1984.

I don't know about you guys, but I am really looking forward to Happy Hour tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Inappropriate Conversations

I know I have mentioned it before, but it's worth saying it again. If you choose to sit at the bar and (even better yet) dine at the bar, please make sure you are aware of the people around you before engaging in certain conversation topics. Things such as describing in detail the bladder infection you are experiencing or having a heart-to-heart with your significant other about the crazy affair you are having with your wife's best friend are not only inappropriate for a public setting such as a bar, but they make the people who have to hear your conversation uncomfortable.

I know the bar is a fun place and shouldn't be a formal setting like dining at a table, but you still need to use your better judgment when it comes to conversations that should take place behind closed doors and not in public.

Being a bartender, one of the best parts of my job is that I love meeting people and hearing their interesting stories. There are some things though that I don't need to hear. TMI people. TMI!!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Pilgrims Brought Beer to America?

I was reading "Bartending For Dummies" last night and came upon an interesting tidbit of information. According to the book (written by Ray Foley of Bartending Magazine), beer came to America via the Mayflower. Apparently, the Pilgrims were running low on beer so they decided to land at Plymouth Rock instead going more south as they had originally planned. The proof? The US Library of Congress has a journal kept by one of the Mayflower passengers with an entry dated from 1620 which states in regards to landing at Plymouth Rock:

"we could not now take time for further search or consideration, our victuals being much spent , especially our beer..."

I guess the Pilgrims didn't have the option of making a pitstop at 7-11 to refill their supply back in those days.

I love history.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Got Some Promo Love decided to give me some promo love and feature one of my articles, "Up-sell, Up-sell, Up-sell." What that means is that on every Bars and Clubs page in the network, a link to my little article will appear. I thought that was pretty cool.

I can't believe I have already written and posted 40 articles on my Examiner page. I only started a month and a half ago. When it comes to bartending, I have a lot to say!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Great Thing About Bartending

is that I always have something really interesting to write about.

The adventures in bartending. I am afraid to ask what my next shift will bring me.

So This Crackhead Walks Into a Bar..

I wish this were a joke. Unfortunately, it's a true story that happened to me at work tonight.

Tonight started off to be a rather slow and uneventful night. I had a few people sit at the bar and order drinks before they left for their tables to eat dinner. I had a few couples in for cocktails. No one was eating dinner at the bar. I ran out of sidework and things to clean behind the bar. It got to the point where I was checking the time every two minutes. My night was dragging by.

That all changed when the crackhead walked into the bar. Now let me back up. I am not one to quickly judge a customer. I give everyone who comes into the bar the benefit of the doubt. I like to give people a chance to settle in, have a few cocktails and enjoy themselves. I wait until they do something really awesome or really awful before I label them a particular type of customer (good or bad). I could tell from the moment this woman walked in the bar that she was going to be bad news. I just had a feeling. I guess I wanted my feeling to be wrong so I pushed the thoughts aside and gave her my best customer service.

She sucked every ounce of energy out of me. Here is what went down:

As soon as this woman stepped into the bar, she had an excuse for everything. She was apologizing to the hostess profusely for her raspy voice, claiming that she had been a part of the Bay to Breakers festivities the day before. But anyone who was here in San Francisco yesterday during the day knows that it was hot out. If you were a part of Bay to Breakers yesterday, you spent the day out in the sun and got some color on your skin. Most people (like me) even got a mild sunburn. This woman was pale as a ghost. This woman was also very skinny, reeked of cigarettes and was missing a few teeth. She did have long, freshly manicured nails which she pointed out to anyone who would listen and look at them (AKA me, my manager and a couple of the servers).

When she took a seat at my bar, the first words out of her mouth were telling me about how she had tried to get dinner at a restaurant down the street and they kicked her out. I felt sorry for her. Especially when she told me that she had money and gave me her credit card. My thought at that point was to take extra good care of this woman. She had obviously been having a hard night. Maybe she was just a little off? Everyone deserves respect. I wanted to give her some. Besides, I was slow so I had some extra time to give her some extra attention.

I took the time to go through the menu with her, answering questions she had about certain items and giving her my opinion of what I thought was good to order, depending on her own hunger level. That was the weird thing though. I asked her how hungry she was and she couldn't tell me. First, she was hungry. Then she wasn't. At this point, I still refused to judge her. So we decided that she would try the soup and a potato while she nibbled on some bread. Easy enough. Hey, just the night before I had a guy come in and just wanted a side of mushrooms. I didn't judge him, so I wasn't going to judge her.

Once her food came, she started to unravel a bit. She kept repeating herself to me and progressively got louder, to the point where the other customers sitting at the bar were starting to take notice. I was getting worried that she was going to scare off my other customers. In between her bites, she named me "Girl" and we got to talking about how I loved living in the Tenderloin. She couldn't quite grasp that someone would choose to live there and like it so I could tell she was intrigued. She excused herself from the bar to take a couple of smoke breaks. During the times she was gone, I could feel myself recharging, dreading her return. I hated that feeling. I just didn't know what to expect next from this lady.

After her second smoke break, the lady asked me if I could do her a favor. She told me that her cellphone battery was running low and asked if she could use my cellphone. I told her that my battery was almost dead too (it really was). Then she asked if she could use the house phone or if I knew where the nearest pay phone was. I had no idea where the nearest payphone was. I told her I would ask my manager. Unfortunately, I couldn't find my manager right away and had other customers at the bar to tend to. She took that as me ignoring her request. That is when things turned for the worse.

Anytime a server came up to the bar or the hostess would talk to someone like thanking a customer as they left the building, this woman took it as if people were talking about her. Talk about paranoid. I repeatedly tried to console her and told her that no one was talking about her. It was the phone thing though that seemed to really push her over the edge. She kept asking me over and over again to use the house phone. I told her over and over again that I had to ask my manager first. She told me that she would pay me ten or twenty dollars to use the phone. Then she asked if I thought she was a drug dealer. Then she called me a bitch.

Luckily at this point, one of my servers was standing right there and told me to close out her check and ask her to leave. There was nothing else we could do for her. So I packaged up her food, closed out her check and gave it to her. She continued to raise her voice at me getting pretty mean, pretty quick. It was almost like she was looking to pick a fight with me. The only response I could give her was "You know what? I have been really nice to you all night." I couldn't think of anything more clever to say. Besides, I didn't want to set this woman off anymore than she already was.

Eventually, I got my manager involved. Once I get him involved, than it's time for that person to go. Period. Her time had come. I stopped talking to her and let my manager take over the situation. He was kind enough to grab the house phone and dial the phone number she gave him, even after she had made such a scene. He then offered to call her a cab. There was no helping this lady. At this point, anything anyone said to her or any help they offered her, she would take it as an insult. She just kept getting louder and ruder by the minute, even after she made her phone call.

My manager had a hell of a time getting her out of the restaurant. She continued to get rowdy with him and throw a little temper tantrum. I could see why she had gotten kicked out of the previous restaurant she had been in. It took a minute, but she finally left.

I think it's safe to say that this woman is now permanently 86ed from our bar and for good reason, I think.

And to add insult to injury, I had a group of four sitting at the bar who had just flown in from a European country that day. They watched the whole transaction that I had with this woman go down. They saw how I went out of my way to be nice and patient with her to her going off on me and my manager. These bastards ended up stiffing me on the tip. In fact, when they were paying, I heard them break out change on the bar. CHANGE! I guess they didn't have enough change because they paid with a fifty and then they took every cent of their change. I guess nothing says welcome to San Francisco like watching a crackhead go postal at the bar you are trying to drink your first American beer at.

On the flip side, my last group of customers at the bar were also from a European country. We got on to the topic of tipping and they told me how they always over tip because people always assume that they are going to stiff them just because they are foreigners. Turns out, even though they had thick accents and spoke a whole other language, they had all lived in the US for the past five years and were very well versed in our tipping culture. We had a good laugh and I thanked them profusely for helping me end my note on a good note.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Labor Intensive Cocktail Night

Every now and then, there comes a night behind the bar where it seems like everyone is ordering the same drink. Sometimes it's wine. Sometimes it's beer. Sometimes it's martinis. On nights like tonight when it was warm out and our restaurant was busy, everyone wanted a mojito. If anyone knows how to properly make a mojito, you will know that there is a certain level of care that goes into making these drinks. First, you grab the lime and mint and muddle it in a mixing glass. Then you add rum and sugar, shake it all together and then strain it in a glass filled with ice and then top with soda water.

The mojitos I were making weren't that easy. These were special mojitos that are on our specialty cocktail menu (aka labor intensive cocktails). In addition to adding the mint, we also muddle orange and lemon (minus the lime). Instead of rum, we use vodka and replace regular old simple syrup with brown sugar simple syrup. We call these little beauties Moscow Mojitos. They are pretty good and judging by the hundred or so I made for the restaurant tonight, I'd say that the customers seemed to dig them too.

It's one thing to be busy trying to serve 20 people at your bar, who show up all at once and keep up with the server tickets that come to the bar. It's a whole other game when you have to muddle almost every single drink that goes out.

Luckily, my customers were cool and understanding. Everyone saw just how much work was going into each and every cocktail I made. I got props for working my bootie off and got complimented for my speed. I love that! A customer even tipped me over fifty percent of his bill because he liked my attitude (which remained positive and upbeat even in the hairiest part of the evening).

I have a funny feeling that I am going to have nightmares about making Moscow Mojitos tonight.

It's small price to pay for having a job that you love.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

i live here: SF

I am being featured on the i live here: SF blog today. The i live here: SF project is a photography feature on various people who live here in San Francisco and want to tell their story through their words and the pictures taken by the AMAZING Tangobaby.

When I first stumbled upon the i live here: SF blog, I fell in love with it immediately. Everyone who knows me knows how much I love living here in the city, especially here in the Tenderloin. People close to me also know how much I love bartending. This project was a way for me to combine both of those things that I love so much and tell my story.

We had so much fun running around the TL on a sunny Sunday afternoon, taking pictures. I also have a new and amazing friend.

Thanks Julie.

i live here: SF (Kathleen)


I have a bunch of articles already written and have ideas of articles I want to write for both my Cielo Gold bartender blog and for my SF Bartender Examiner page. I am constantly talking to my customers, students and other bartenders about what topics I should cover.

I wanted to reach out to you guys and ask for your feedback. What are some topics you would like to see me cover in the future? Any questions you have about bartending in general? Ideas? Comments?

Hit me up. I want to know.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

My Dad's Boat is on MTV!!!

How is this for cool? My dad's fishing boat was on MTV. The show is called The Phone. His boat was on Episode One: The Bomber.

Watch the full episode.

See the blue boat that the contestants are on during their search for the first clue? That's my dad's boat. Only, it isn't called "The Suspect" in real life. It's named after me. :)

I remember when they filmed the show up in Seattle at the beginning of this year. I couldn't take time off of work or else I would have so been there, taking a bunch of pictures.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Nothing Says Happiness Like...

having a brand new pair of cute and comfortable boots to wear to work. A pair of boots that wont let me slip on my ass behind the bar. I have been waiting for this day to come for months. Today, the search is over. I found the perfect pair.

When a bartender finds a pair of shoes they love to work in, it's a big deal because we spend our entire shift on our feet. No one might look at our feet, but WE DO.

Now my feet are going to be really cute behind the bar. That makes me very excited.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

10 Things Bartenders Hate

A friend of mine asked me what ten things bartenders hate. I can only speak for myself here, based on my own personal experience. It took me a second, but I came up with a pretty good list. Keep in mind, I absolutely LOVE bartending. No joke. But if I had to pick ten thngs, this is what they would be.

Not listed in any particular order. I think I hate them all pretty equally:

1. People who don't want to wait their turn to order a drink.

2. People who don't tip on free drinks (open bars especially).

3. People who try to order a drink while talking on a cell phone.

4. Having to cut a customer off.

5. People who order drinks without ice. I understand if your teeth are sensitive, but it's the people who don't order ice thinking they are going to get more liquor. Nope, they are just getting more mixer.

6. When people say "Make it strong!" and assume off the bat that I am going to make them a weak drink.

7. Customers who touch me.
There is no reason to touch the bartender, EVER!

8. When people expect free drinks. Free drinks are a privilege, not a right.

9. Customers who come in as soon as the business opens or earlier. Customers who come in right before closing time.

10. When customers place the same order with multiple bartenders.

Hey, no matter how much you love a job, no job out there is perfect all of the time.

Happy Cinco De Mayo. Do I hear Taco Tuesday? I think I do!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

My Favorite San Francisco Bars

There are so many bars here in San Francisco that are perfectly great and fun bars, but everyone has a preference in the type of bar they like and the reason why they love them. Below are my top seven favorite bars in San Francisco and the reasons why I love them so:

#7: Pops
2800 24th Street (between Bryant St & York St)

Pops has everything a great dive bar needs: great jukebox, friendly bartenders, healthy happy hour specials, pool table, Ms. Pac Man and the best photo booth in the city. I am talking about the old school, black and white kind. I can't really say too much about the bathroom except suggest you don't use it. One should never base how good a bar is by the bathroom anyways.

#6: Velvet Cantina
3349 23rd St (between Bartlett St & Mission St)

Pitchers of watermelon margaritas. Great Mexican food. Enough said.

#5: Bourbon and Branch
501 Jones Street (between O'Farrell St & Geary St)

In the middle of the Tenderloin sits a speakeasy that requires a password for admission. I didn't really understand what all the buzz what about until I got to experience this place for myself. I have to say, I was impressed. Friendly bartenders who make delicious, labor intensive cocktails in lightening speed. Seriously, one-handed straining and fine straining. Fancy! I wish I could be half the bartenders these guys are.

#4: Gold Dust Lounge
247 Powell St (between Geary St & O'Farrell St)

One of the things I love the most about Gold Dust is not the fiesty bartenders (although I do love them), but the variety of people who come here to drink. On any given day, you can see tourists, locals and drunks who don't make any sense. The place is old and seems to have a lot of history. If those walls could talk. There is also a live band that plays on most nights. It's the perfect place to take a break during a shopping excursion in Union Square, get your drink on and people watch.

#3: R Bar
1176 Sutter Street (between Larkin St & Polk St)

Super chill spot in the TenderNob with some of the most coolest bartenders in the city. The jukebox rocks, there is a Ms. Pac Man table to play on and if you ask nicely, the bartenders will more than likely take a Fernet shot with you.

#2: The Saloon
1232 Grant Avenue (between Broadway St & Fresno St)

The Saloon is easiest the oldest bar in San Francisco, opening it's swinging doors for business in 1861. This place has a whole lot of soul. This good old bar survived the 1906 earthquake and rocks it every night of the week with a live band. Sometimes the bartenders don't have any teeth and you can be sure that there are no fancy, labor intensive cocktails on the menu here. I recommend hitting this place up on Monday nights to check out The Bachelors.

#1: Lucky 13
2140 Market St (between 15th St & Church St)

What is there not to love about this rocker dive bar, minus the attitude and cover, located in the heart of the Castro? At Lucky 13, customers can find a photo booth, pool table, pinball machines, a great jukebox with a wide selection of rock and punk songs, an outside back patio, a popcorn machine, tons of beers on tap, a Jagenator (a machine with three bottles of Jagermeister sitting on top that dispenses chilled shots of Jager with the push of a button) and super cool bartenders. If you ask the bartender nicely, you can even get free goldfish crackers while enjoying the happy hour specials that go until 8 pm every night. There is a free barbeque on the outside back patio every Saturday. Lucky 13 is also dog friendly, making it possible to include Rover on your drunken nights of debauchery.

Despite the many times I have been drinking at Lucky 13, I have still yet to see what exactly or how the random metal pole is used which just so happens to be located in the middle of the front room, right on top the bar.

Hands down, my favorite bar in all of San Francisco!

What are your favorite bars in San Francisco and why? I want to know.