Tag - Bartenders

I’ve got a bone to pick with a lot of good bartenders
SideBlog: Josh Miller’s Petition to Save CA Bartenders From a Prison of Latex
Tipping Big. Some are Unclear on the Concept
A Cocktail Carol

I’ve got a bone to pick with a lot of good bartenders

Hey bartenders! You know many of you number among my favorite professionals in the world. Ofttimes, I will value some of your opinions above my own. (Well, sometimes….) But there is a current complaint about customers going the rounds among a lot of even the elite among you that you all need to realize is a bad conceit.

I was triggered to write this little rant by an otherwise excellent post at Spirits & Motors by Robby Nelson named I’m a Bartender. He has seven enumerated points that are each funny, true, and ought to be required reading for any number of idiot customers out there. Read the post. It’s good.

But in the final wrap-up, he throws out this:

For your part, trust that I know what I’m doing. When you tell me that you want a drink that’s “not too sweet,” all I hear is that you don’t want me mess up your drink, which makes me think that you think that I’m a hack, which makes me sad. Do you ask the chef to make your food “not too undercooked?” I recommend abolishing that “not too sweet” phrase from your vocabulary.

Um, no. Robby, here’s the thing: I am a very experienced bar customer. I know what I like, and more importantly, how my tastes differ from other people. I probably have one of two very good reasons for asking you to, yes, not mess up my drink.

One, I may have drunk at your establishment in the past. I therefor know how your house recipes are balanced. I may have even ordered this particular selection before. And I judge that your house profile is too sweet for my taste.

Two, I my know that my own taste in drinks runs to the very dry. You may well have had your Cosmopolitan recipe handed down to you by Dale DeGroff himself, inscribed on a stone tablet. But I know I want mine less sweet than that.

See? Like Dale always says, he didn’t come up with the recipe himself.

I am, in fact, trusting you to either punch up the lime, or use a drier orange liqueur, or whatever you, in your professional opinion, believe will produce a less-sweet drink with the same underlying flavor profile. If you know that you make that drink a lot less sweet already than most, feel free to do your regular thing. Sophisticated palates can and do disagree about the amount of sweet they need to make any given drink perfect. It is frankly insulting to the customer to grump about how you know better than them about their desires. It’s a bit like a server who says the chef recommends the duck be medium rare, then gets all huffy when the customer says he’ll have it medium anyway.

Here’s the point. I am giving you valuable information about me (and my desires) when I say I want my drink “not too sweet”. I am going to be, without doubt, one of two guys. I could be, well, me: a customer who has long experience with cocktails, who understands the market, who is making an educated judgement that your drinks may well run sweeter than he really wants, and who knows that you (like him) could fix a drink with too little sugar, but you’d have to dump one that is too sweet and start over. I could also be the cocktail version of the wine poseur who asks for “any Loire red from the north bank, nice and tannic, maybe with a hint of plums or elderberries.” All I know is that I’ve read on the blogs that most cocktails are designed overly sweet to appeal to inexperienced drinkers, and since I fancy myself to be sophisticated, I signal my elite status by asking for my Lemon Drop to be “not so sweet”.

If I am the Idiot pole of this Boolean gate, you could make that Lemon Drop with 50-50 vodka and lemon juice, or 50-50 sugar and Citron, or just back off the sugar in your regular recipe a bit. As long as you slide it over the bar to me with a conspiratorial smile that will say to them, “Lots of my better customers agree with you about Lemon Drops being too sweet. I think you’ll find this to your liking,” they will guzzle it down and run off to Yelp to bugle about how they’ve finally found a bartender who “gets it”. But if I am the other possibility, and you choose anything other than the last option, I’m going to think you are a hack, or a douchebag, or possibly both.

I singled out Nelson here only because he was unfortunate enough to have me read his post right when I had time to rant about it. I’ve been hearing this increasingly lately and it has got to stop. Let’s not put another row of bricks in the Craft Bartenders Are Rude, Douchey Snobs wall, shall we? Save your (well-hidden) scorn for Tanqueray Martinis with no vermouth, or Piña Coladas, or guys who order friggin’ Grey Goose on a first date while she’s knocking back Knob Creek neat. It’ll be a helluva lot more profitable for everybody. Trust me.

SideBlog: Josh Miller’s Petition to Save CA Bartenders From a Prison of Latex

Josh Miller’s petition that everyone who cares about drinks in California should sign… today. California lawmakers think it is a good idea to force bartenders to wear food service gloves like they are school lunch ladies. In this (as with most things), California lawmakers are wrong and need help seeing the light. (Josh is @Inuakena)

Tipping Big. Some are Unclear on the Concept

Big Tip
Source: Woman’s Day

For anyone in the bar and restaurant business, or just those of us with way too many friends working behind the bar, the subject of the big tip is a heartwarming one. I’m not talking your fairly run-of-the-mill 20%, rounded up. I’m talking the twenty for a cup of coffee tip, or the Benjamin on dinner for two at Bob Evans. I mean the kind of tip that has your friendly neighborhood bartender or server rushing to tell everybody about it.

Some group of good Christian gentlemen has really made this a “thing” of late, traveling the country and leaving random, four figure tips on small tabs. You’ve probably seen a story or two about it. If you work in the industry, you likely are hoping they’ll drop by to see you. Even better, with all the attention this is getting, we are starting to see copycats….

Well, mostly better.

In what may be an alarming sign that this wonderful little fad may be playing itself out, the people who are Unclear on the Concept™ now seem to be trying to get in on the act. Bless their hearts.

Today’s example of Unclear comes to us by way of Oregon. A couple who dined at the Twisted Fish Steakhouse (with a gift card) thought that they ought to go plus one on their tip and left an envelope with a big question mark written on it….

Ryan and Erica were unclear on the concept in several ways. First, when going for the grand gesture, you do not hang around while your server picks up the tip. No thanks should be needed. The gesture is its own reward, and all that. Second, and more importantly, crystal meth is not really going to fit the bill as a great tip.

This made the whole first “hang around and enjoy your coffee” part of the fail a particularly bad idea. The server did not appreciate her bounteous tip and ran to share the news, not with her co-workers and the press, but with the local constabulary. Said gendarmerie arrived swiftly and discovered that the couple could have tipped even more generously, to the tune of seventeen more ounces of meth tucked away in Erica’s purse.

It will shock you to discover that the couple are not exactly Brad and Angelina Pitt in the looks department either:

Ryan Benson, Meth tipper
Ryan Bensen
Erica Manley, meth tipper
Erica Manley
Source: The Police News

A Cocktail Carol

A Cocktail Carol

A play in one act from
the Pegu Players Repertory Theater

Three Wise Men Cross the Desert

Three hot, dusty camels trudge across a nighttime desert waste. Their hotter, dustier riders slump tiredly in their seats. Each occasionally looks up at a particularly bright star in the sky ahead of them.

Melchior: <Straightens and begins to sing>We three kings of Orient are. Bearing gifts we….
Gaspar: Oh cripes! He’s in the mead again, Balthazar!
Balthazar: Melchior, will you please quit it with the kings bit? No one believes you.
Gaspar: Seriously. If we are supposed to be kings, where are our entourages?
Melchior: Like I told that barmaid back in Jerusalem, Gaspar: “With the economic downturn, we’ve had to make cutbacks in the sycophant budget.”
Gaspar: And how’d that pickup line work out for you, your majesty?
Melchior: Shut up.

<They ride along through a brief silence>

Balthazar: And why do you need to pump yourself up, anyway? We’re astrologers—the best astrologers in the world. We can look into the sky and divine the purposes of God.
Melchior: <Yodels>We are the Kings of Astrology!

<Balthazar and Gaspar shake their heads>

Balthazar: Speaking of kings, I woke up this morning with the unmistakable impression that once we find this kid, we should go home some way other than back through Jerusalem.
Gaspar: Gee, you think? That Herod character seemed a bit too eager to hand over the keys to the palace to a replacement he never heard of. If I really were a king, my definition of “going and worshiping him too” would consist mostly of dropping the kid in a very deep well.
Melchior: I’m happy to go home another route. Herod smells worse than ol’ Camile here. <Slaps his camel’s flank affectionately>
Gaspar: That, and the fact that that barmaid’s father will have had all this intervening time to sharpen his scimitar….

<Balthazar coughs on some sand>

Balthazar: Well, whatever Melchior’s thinking about kingship and whatnot, he’s got the right idea about a drink. <Starts to rummage through his camel’s pack. Finds a present and pulls it out> Hey! My gift for the kid! Did you guys remember to bring yours?
Gaspar: Don’t you think you might have asked that question earlier, when we were still able to turn around?
Balthazar: I got him a batch of Frankincense.
Melchior: Still on with the incense? It’s a baby. You’ll give it colic.
Balthazar: Look, my reading still says the kid’s gonna be a god. He better get used to people waving incense around his face. What’d you get him, Gaspar?
Gaspar: Gold.
Melchior: Cash? You got him cash? You might as well have gotten him a Target gift card!
Gaspar: Look, my reading is that the child will be a king, not a god…
Balthazar: Something you might have kept to yourself around Herod…
Gaspar: <Overrides Balthazar’s interjection>… and nothing says you’re the king quite like gold.
Melchior: Gold says, Here’s some cash, I couldn’t be bothered to think of anything appropriate to get you.
Gaspar: <Makes a rude gesture a Melchior>OK, Miss Manners, what did you get the child?
Melchior: <Mumbles something>
Gaspar: What’s that? You didn’t really forget your gift, did you? You’re not adding your name onto my tag, like you did for Balthazar’s last birthday.
Balthazar: I remember that. You still owe me a gift.
Melchior: I didn’t forget my gift. It’s secure in my pack.
Balthazar: Then what is it?
Melchior: Look, my reading just doesn’t end well for this poor kid. Doom, Gathering Gloom, Death, and all that.

<Gaspar and Balthazar stare at Melchior aghast.>

Gaspar: Melchior, you cannot give a shroud for a baby shower gift.
Melchior: No! No. I just got to thinking and Myrrh popped into my head.
Gaspar: Perfume? You bought a baby perfume?
Balthazar: Maybe the mom will like it.
Melchior: I didn’t actually get pure Myrrh…. That’s kind of expensive, and I’m a little short this month.
Balthazar: Then what are you… Wait! You didn’t, Melchior.
Melchior: <Defiantly>Yes I did. What of it?
Balthazar: You brought a bottle of Fernet Branca?!?
Gaspar: I’d have gone with the perfume.
Melchior: Come on, it’s got Myrrh in it! And we love it.
Gaspar: We are bartenders.
Balthazar: We are astrologers.
Gaspar: We are astrologers who tend bar to make ends meet. Together, that makes us the wisest men on Earth.
But after a long shift kissing the backsides of arrogant camel brokers in their red power keffiyehs, we need something exotic to cleanse the pallet. Fernet Branca gets rid of every bad taste you got in one shot.
Balthazar: Leaves it’s own rather… imposing set of aftertastes. Like the Myrrh, for instance.
Melchior: I brought a case of Canada Dry Ginger Ale too.
Gaspar: Oh… well… that’s fine then.

<Melchior starts to relax.>

Gaspar: Except, have you forgotten it’s a gift for a freaking baby?
Melchior: Look guys, like I said: My reading says this kid has got a rough road ahead. I figure he’s going to need to fight off a lot of bad tastes in his mouth. I’m just trying to equip him properly.

<Tired, companionable silence>

Gaspar: <Spits>Ugh, all this sand… Look, Melchior, I’ve got a lot of gold here. It was a good month for tips for me. Let’s stop off at the next town, and we’ll buy some real Myrrh for your gift.
Balthazar: Perfume would be more appropriate for a god than booze….
Melchior: <Suspiciously>And why, pray tell, are you suddenly feeling so much like sharing, Gaspar?
Gaspar: Well…. <rubs his throat> If you are going to give real Myrrh when we find the kid, then we can crack open your bottle of Fernet Branca right now….
<Fade to black>
Balthazar: Um, Melchior, I don’t suppose you brought any Moxie, did you?

And that, children, is the real story of Epiphany!

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