Thursday, January 20, 2011

Things I've Learned Bartending in a Strip Club #15

#15: You don't always get what you pay for in a strip club.

In strip clubs, customers believe that they get what they pay for. The more expensive the dancer, the better she'll be. The more expensive the alcohol, the classier it is.

I'm here to tell you that it's a big, fat MYTH. You do not get what you pay for in a strip club. In fact, the more you spend on something in a strip club, the bigger a loser you are. You better believe that the entire staff is watching you and snickering behind your back.

It would always crack me up when young guys (just barely past legal drinking age) would come into the club and make a big deal about ordering chilled shots of anything ("Goose", Patron, Belevedere) with pineapple backs, "Henney" and cokes or request Hennessey mixed with apple juice. Seriously? Take the bottle out of your mouth. We don't even carry apple juice. No legit bar does.

Real drinkers understand that top shelf alcohol (the expensive stuff that is so good, it has to sit on the back shelf of a bar and not in the well) is meant to be enjoyed on its own. It's not made to shoot back. It's not made to mix with soda, juice or any type of mixer. It's really not even meant to muddle with fresh fruit.

Bartending in a strip club, I recognized my place. I wasn't there to educate my clueless customers. I was there to sell drinks. My sole purpose was to make money for the club and fill my tip jar. There were plenty of times during a shift when all of us bartenders would share plenty of rolled eyes and "You're never going to believe what this asshole did..." type of stories. This is part of the reason why bartending in a strip club was the easiest type of bartending I had ever done. Certainly not the proudest moments of my bartending career, but it paid the bills and was a lot of fun.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Things I've Learned Bartending in a Strip Club #30

#30: Every strip club needs a bar.

Let's face it. Strip clubs ooze sex. They are filled with desire and hope. Customers desire the attention of the dancers. The dancers hope the customers will give them money for their time and attention. Bartenders hope to make a drink and tips off any customer that comes to their bar, whether it be an actual customer or a dancer.

It's rare that a customer will patronize a strip club without having some sort of alcohol in his system. When a customer comes into a strip club, the first place he usually stops at (besides the ATM machine right outside the club) is the bar. It's a transition for the customer. He is mentally adapting from the outside world to the inside of his carnal desires. The bar gives the customer a chance to take a breath, relax and form some sort of game plan in his head before venturing out to the floor filled with plastic shoes, glitter and g-strings.

Bars are the social epicenter in any strip club. Dancers use the bar to seek out potential customers. Dancers can smell money all the way from the dressing room. Dancers know that all the fresh meat in the place (the guys who still have cash in their pocket) will be sitting at the bar. Customers might think they are the only ones who are sizing up the inventory. Little do they know, the dancer has already decided on which guy at the bar has the most money. This assessment will determine which guy she will introduce herself to first.

Throwing a bartender in the mix acts as a buffer for both the customer and the dancer. The bartender acts as the middleman, the innocent party if you will. While the customer and dancer are busy sizing each other up, the bartender is busy lubricating the newly acquainted couple with alcohol. The customer knows that the odds are in his favor. His wallet can have any girl he desires in the strip club. But he knows that the one girl he doesn't stand a chance of being able to have an intimate, one-on-one interaction with is the female bartender. If the female bartender plays her cards right by flashing a few smiles and having a friendly chat with the customer, the customer's desire is more likely to leave her a bigger tip.

A strip club is a social circus where the traditional roles are reversed. Men come inside for the attention and become the prey for the women who come inside for the money (and sometimes attention). When you add alcohol to the mix, everything gets a little easier for everyone involved. The customer relaxes. The dancers generally make more money. The bartender walks away with a healthy tip bucket. It's one of the only triangles where everyone involved walks away a winner.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Two Things That Drive Me Crazy

There are two things that really drive me crazy whenever I am working behind the bar:

1. People who try to come in before we're open for business

I spend the hour before we open up for business setting up the bar. I cut fruit. I stock fresh garnishes. I bring out the mixers. I fill my well with ice. I stock up my juices. I make espresso drinks for the kitchen. I make fruit punch drinks for the runners. I count my drawer. I use this hour to not only physically prepare my bar for the evening, but I prepare myself mentally for the night as well.

It irritates me to no end when we get customers who come in before we open and demand a drink. Are you kidding me? If I take the time to serve you before I have a chance to set up my bar, I risk falling behind for the rest of the night. It might not be such a big deal on a slower night. If its a busy night, your stupid drink might set me back so far that I never quite get the chance to get caught up for the rest of the night. No one wants to start off their night already being behind. The bar and restaurant industry appreciates the business it receives from its customers. Please try to patronize the business during its set business hours. There's a reason why we open at 5 and not 4:30.

2. People who try to come in 5-10 minutes before closing

Slow nights suck. Slow nights are painful because the time drags by as you watch the clock and then watch the door, hoping and waiting for customers to come in. Now picture this. You've just spent the last 5-6 hours watching the clock tick by. You had a couple of customers here and there, but no one has come in over the last hour. Since closing time is officially less than 20 minutes away, you start to close down the bar because there's no one there. You've just tossed out the rest of your lemons, limes and fruit garnishes when the door opens and a customer walks in. Are you serious? There's no one in the bar or restaurant and it's now five minutes to closing. That sucks.

It's painful to keep a kitchen open long after closing for the one person who decides to come in right before closing. That means the kitchen staff, server, bartender and manager on duty all have to wait patiently and watch (in vain) as the customer enjoys their meal because none of us can go home until the customer does.

The next time you dine out, please reconsider when you walk into a bar or restaurant before opening or near closing and don't expect to be welcomed with open arms. Chances are if you were in the restaurant/bar staff's shoes, you would be just as annoyed if either one of these scenarios happened to you.

And don't even get me started on the customers who sit and chat at their table well past closing time.

If you ever find yourself in the position where you just can't resist patronizing a business outside of it's designated business hours, make it worth the staff's while by being a generous tipper.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Bloody Mary: The Meatloaf of Cocktails

Just in case you missed it my dearest readers. Here is my article that was published in Drink Me Magazine last year featuring one of my all-time, personal favorite cocktails, the Bloody Mary.

I was just Googling myself and found this article which was posted in Issue Six of the magazine back in February 2010. I almost forgot I had written it. I sure did have a ton of fun doing the research for the article.

Drink Me Magazine: Something About Mary by Kathleen Neves (aka Cielo Gold)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

What's Good?

"What would you like to drink?"

This is how I typically start every single one of my bar transactions with a customer.

Every now and then I get a customer who responds to my question, "Well, what's good?"

It's fine. I get it. People like this are trying hard to be funny in front of their friends. If it's slow enough at the bar, I might humor the customer and ask them what types of drinks they normally drink or what spirit they would like their cocktail to be based on. But in most of my experiences, the wisecracking customer always seems to ask this question at the wrong time...when I am knee deep in drink orders from servers and have a packed house at the bar. I'm talking standing room only. It's at times like these when all I can say in response to the customer is "Well, EVERYTHING is good", just as I take the drink order of the person standing next to the wise guy.

That's right. People who try to be funny when a bartender is busy generally get skipped. It's not that we are trying to be rude. We are just trying to be efficient. If not only for the tip jar, but for the bar.

When a bar is busy and there is only one bartender taking the drink orders and making the drinks, there isn't a whole lot of time to have a discussion about what "good" drink a customer should have. If a bartender does stop in the middle of a rush to have this type of conversation, you better believe the rest of the bar will be watching angrily and slapping their fists full of cash on the bar.

Do yourself a favor potentially wisecracking customer. Be mindful of the bar and save your funny comments and responses for the slower portions of the evening. Trust me, you will be better off annoying the poor bartender who has to pretend to laugh and strain to find humor in your comments than having to deal with the wrath of countless thirsty bar patrons who already know what's "good" and are ready to order.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Thanks for featuring my blog College Crunch!

It was just brought to my attention yesterday that my Cielo Gold: San Francisco Bartender blog was featured by College Crunch as one of the 50 Best Blogs for the Home Bartender, specifically under The Bartending Experience section.

I know I haven't been active updating my blog this past year, but it always brightens my day when people discover my blog and love it. If that isn't inspiration to make this blog active again, I don't know what is.

Speaking of active, look at who finally posted something on her National Bartender Examiner page yesterday:

Kara Newman finds the balance in creating a spicy cocktail

*Kara Newman is the author of Spice & Ice: 60-Tongue Tingling Cocktails, an awesome book featuring hot, spicy and perfectly balanced cocktails categorized by the seasons. All of the recipes feature, fresh and seasonal ingredients.

Even though I am still in the midst of switching careers/industries, I still manage to find the time to work two nights a week behind the bar. Here's to plenty more bar stories and drink recipes in the near future.

Happy New Year 2011 everyone!