Tag Archives: nightlife

Tip #20 on Being a Good Bar Customer

31 Aug

So most of my bartender tips are of the negative variety. You know, don’t walk out of the bar and into your car and then drive away all the while holding an open beer that you just purchased from said bar. Or if you get 86ed from a bar probably just don’t ever go back into that bar again. And also don’t flag down your bartender unless you are choking and are trying to act out the images on those choking signs in order to instruct the bartender, or another patron, how to save you from certain death. There are so many more tips, though. Nineteen so far! You can scroll all around through my blog and read the tips and also some other stuff where I overshare about my period, write about bad dates and talk about that time I bought a bra and everything changed.

Anyway as I was saying most of my bartender tips are negative. People do shitty things in the place where I work and then I write about them, in hopes of amusing my readers and also maybe, just maybe, teaching people a thing or two about what it is like to work in the service industry. Because let’s be honest, there are a lot of people who are legitimately assholes. But most people aren’t assholes; just don’t get it. They aren’t doing things in order to make the person serving them drinks feel like garbage, they are doing things in order to get their drinks more quickly. The result, though, is that it makes the people serving them drinks feel like garbage. And seeing as how I am one of the people serving drinks and I don’t much enjoy feeling like garbage, I figured why not use my experiences as a way to educate! To say

Hey! I know you’re not an asshole but you sure are acting like one! Let’s fix it! We can all work together and be a team. A respectful, patient, understanding team. Doesn’t that sound great? Obviously it does.

And so in an effort to put a positive spin on things, I am going to write a bartender tip that celebrates the people that get it right. That do things that make my night so very much better. And it’s not like normal human things like being polite, having your money and order ready or saying please and thank you, although those things certainly help. It’s that extra step. And the extra step is so very small. It will take you five seconds and it involves your credit card slip and a pen. Can you guess it?

(Hint: it isn’t tipping although obviously I love me some tips.)

No? You guys. This might sound super cheesy but maybe when you have a nice experience at a bar or restaurant write a little note at the bottom of the receipt.

I know, I know, so silly. But just stick with me for a minute because I have a story for you. This past Friday I worked a 12 hour shift. It was really tiring and there were some people who sucked. Most the people, though, were nice! Even still standing on your feet and serving drinks for 12 hours straight can really wear a girl down. There is so much being polite, so much being efficient, so much giving people things. It can just all seem so very pointless. So at the end of the night when I was spending like 30 minutes adjusting credit card tips (tedious but necessary!) my heart was warmed when I received not one but two nice notes. The first one read

A+ Bartender!!!

And the second one said

You’re awesome! Thanks for being great at your job!

And you know what? That made the entire night worth it. Because people came in and had a good time and in the midst of their own experience took a second out to say thank you to the people that are in the background lubricating the whole thing. And they didn’t do it in that weird way where you kind of feel like they are expecting something in return. The transaction is complete. The night is over. They have already left. And they just wanted us to know that we are appreciated and noticed and good at what we do. And as it turns out, that goes a long way.

Tip #18 on Being a Good Bar Customer

17 Jul

Hi friends. I know that my posts — when I actually write them which I swear will be happening with more regularity — have been super bar heavy as of late but to be honest I cannot engage with the world right now. What with Brock Turner, the massacre in Orlando, the on-going shooting deaths of black men and women at the hands of those who are tasked with protecting all of us, Donald Fucking Trump, the killing of police in Dallas, that truck mowing people down in Nice, the bombings in Iraq and all the other horrors we don’t hear about because if they don’t happen in The West the media doesn’tt cover them and it’s almost as if they didn’t happen at all I’m just like, done. My brain has taken on the role of my now retired 2009 Mac Book Pro and just constantly has that pinwheel of death swirling around. My brain hamster has taken a break from its wheel and is napping under a giant pile of wood chips. It simply cannot compute where we are and what we have become. And so instead I will write about the bar. Because that I can do. So, here it is. Another tip for your ongoing amusement (and dare I say, education).

At this point I spend anywhere from 35-45 hours a week behind the bar. I know, I know, it isn’t that many hours in comparison with some other jobs like lawyering, and doctoring, and presidenting the United States or other countries (only this week maybe not Turkey because Erdogan got a little bit of a vacation thanks to the coup attempt) but it is a lot of hours to be standing and dealing with the public. My feet hurt. And the public is exhausting. They need things all the time. But it is my job and so when I am behind the bar I do it. I give people things. I might complain about it under my breath and to my coworkers. I might daydream about taking a chainsaw to the tables in my one bar that are so far away that I have to walk a mile every time I bring someone a beer or some snacks, but I still do it. I bring the far-away people their beer and snacks because that is my job and that is how I pay my rent. But here is the thing: when I am not behind the bar because I am waiting in line for the bathroom or trying to find my manager to fix the piece of shit POS system that freezes at all the wrong times or maybe just hanging out because I am taking a break or my shift is over, please don’t order a drink from me. Don’t grab my arm and say

When you get a chance I’d like a jack and coke.

Or

Hey – can I get a pilsner?

Or

 

Make me that thing you made me last time.

You know why? The answer is three fold. The first fold is that it is rude to grab someone’s arm when you aren’t friends with them or, really, even when you are depending on the circumstance. Don’t grab. No one likes a grabber. The second fold is that I am human and need to piss just like the rest of you. And the third and perhaps most important fold is that I cannot make you a drink when I am not behind the bar because I don’t have go-go gadget arms or arms that stretch really far like the mom in The Incredibles. As much as it pains me I am just a regular girl. With regular arms.

So this happened to me yesterday. I mean, this happens to me almost every Friday and Saturday night at least once but it happened again yesterday. And it happened in the way that is the most annoying and also the most predictable. Someone who a number of weeks earlier had asked me my name (red flag!) and therefore came to the conclusion that she deserved special treatment saw me walking out in the bar amongst the regular people (AKA customers). She said hi. I said hi. And then she said

Make me my drink when you get back there?

And, you guys, I think I gave her the stankest of stank faces and then I went back behind the bar and do you know what I didn’t do? I didn’t make her the drink. I didn’t make her the drink for two reasons. The first reason was that I couldn’t remember what she drinks because everyone expects me to remember what they drink and I can hardly even remember what I drink after a certain point in the weekend. And second was that she asked me for a drink when I was not behind the bar and that is a no-no. Special treatment is not really a thing unless I am friends with you In Real Life or you are the owner of the bar. And truth be told either of those people, the In Real Life friends and the owner of the bar, understand that there is an order in which people get served drinks and it is important for us tenders to follow that order to minimize any potential problems. We all know what happens when that order gets fucked up: nothing good.

This whole thing, I don’t know, it’s like going to the post office and thinking because you have gotten quick service at 2 in the afternoon on a random Tuesday and the post office window person smiled at you and asked about your week it means you should get that same warm reception and quick service at noon the day before Christmas (is the post office even open then? I don’t know.). Or like, going into the post office and seeing the long line and then seeing the post office window person walking to the bathroom (I don’t know why this would ever happen) and grabbing the post office window person’s arm and being like

Can I mail this package?

The post office window person would not give you a warm smile, would not ask you about you week and instead would tell you to wait in line like everyone else. And the thing about this happening in the post office is that unlike when this happens in a bar where it’s loud and chaotic everyone else in the line would hear you trying to sneak in front and they would all give you the stankest of stank faces. Maybe there would even be a mutiny! Oh my god I am now imaging if something like this happened at the DMV at the Atlantic Center. The world would end for sure. Anyway as I was saying. So in the post office it is quiet and so everyone hears you trying to cut the line but in the bar it isn’t quiet. There is talking and music and so when you ask for a drink when I am not behind the bar and then I come behind the bar and make you that drink do you know who looks like an asshole? Is it you? No. It is me. I look like the asshole. I get all the stankest of stank faces. Because I fucked up the order. It’s all my fault. And do you know what happens when everyone thinks I am an asshole? Everyone doesn’t tip me. And then I make no money and I am sad.

So please, please, wait your turn. Don’t put me in a weird place. I will get to you. And if you are polite and chill and patient, I will probably sneaky get to you early. I will know your drink and I will make it on the sly. And sometimes I might not charge you for it. How do you like them apples?

Pro Tip: Don’t Move Above a Bar

13 Jul

Oh, people, when will you learn that you live in a city? In a shared space? In a location that has (gasp!) noise? And although 311 and the police do exist, there is a time to make a complaint – when construction starts at 6:30am instead of the allowed 7am – and a time to not make a complaint – when you move above a bar and then get mad that it’s loud. Because the thing about it is that there are two competing factors in this equation

  • You
  • The bar

And in order to distinguish which of those two factors should be deemed the winner in a battle over noise levels we have to look at a few things

  • Was the bar there before you?
  • Do you miss the stars and the quiet and the no fights at 4 in the morning in front of your fancy bagel shop?
  • Are you a dick who (a) doesn’t want anyone to have fun and (b) doesn’t want bartenders and servers to make money?

If you answered yes to question one, then you should probably just go back from whence you came. Or at the very least realize that you made a grave error and move to any one of the thousands of apartments that exist that are NOT located right above, or right next to, a bar or club. I know, I know, real estate is expensive and you got a deal on your spot. But I am going to give you one guess as to why exactly you got that deal. Think about it. Think.

Ding! Ding! Ding!

That’s right. Because you moved above or next to a bar and that apartment is hard to fill because most people don’t want to hear the bass of some half blown-out speakers when they are trying to go to sleep or woo their partner. I mean, think about it this way: I am a bartender, have been for years, and I would never – and I mean never – move above or next to a bar. Ideally, I would like to not even be on the same block as a bar what with all the cigarette smoker-chatters and the cabbies honking their horns until all hours. It’s just common sense, really. So now, a story!

For years and years I worked at this one bar. Within the first two years of my working there we resigned for another 10 year lease. So, it would follow, that we had already been there for 10 years. And we were located on a busy avenue full of trucks, buses, people and skinned animal corpses moved from van to store in creepy looking grocery carts (don’t ask). Basically there was noise all the time and we were the least of it. All that being said, if you were in the market for sleep in a quiet environment and you didn’t want to shell out money for a noise machine, this was probably not the place for you. But some people don’t use their powers of deductive reasoning. Some people just say,

whatever, I want to live in this apartment and so I will mold the environment to me! Take that, all you people who lived and worked here before! Take that “city who never sleeps.” Never sleeps my ass! WE ALL MUST SLEEP AND WE MUST SLEEP IN ACCORDANCE WITH MY NORMALIZED SCHEDULE!

I bet you can already tell how this is going to go. Basically this mother fucker moved into the second floor, one floor above a bar that had been in that location for over a decade at that point, and complained every single day. Every day! And it wasn’t even at like 11 or 12 when he was taking his lame ass to bed. He would complain at 5. Before he even went into his fucking apartment. He would come home from the gym and just waltz into the bar and in his most insufferable French accent would say

Excuse me but eet ees too loud.

And I would say

It’s 5pm. There are like 12 people in here. And you haven’t even gone upstairs yet.

And then he would waltz back out and up to his apartment and then

RING RING RING

The phone would ring and I would answer it, knowing exactly what was about to happen and he would be all

I am eeenside my apartment now and eeet eees too loud!

And I would hang up on him and turn up the music because I am an asshole. But I mean, really?! Ugh he was the worst and I mean that in an entirely non-hyperbolic way. If I had to make a list of The Worst he would top it. And I don’t mean like The Worst Ever in the World, I just mean The Worst in terms of dickhead foreigners who think they are going to get the beauty and quiet of the South of France on the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Court Street in Brooklyn. PAH-lease.

Anyway, the reason that I write about this now, all these years later, is that it is happening again only this time at a different bar! Some anonymous dick keeps calling the cops on us because the music is too loud. So this is what I have to say:

Yo, dude (or lady), you moved here. You made a choice. As far as I can guess no one put a gun to your head and was all “move to this place where you will never sleep ever because there are people there drinking and having fun and they all hate you” (which, by the way, we do because you are a pain in the fucking ass). But really, that conversation never happened.

But, like, beyond that I am sorry that you aren’t getting good, quality sleep. I really am. But do you know who else isn’t getting good quality sleep? Me. And do you know why? Because I serve drinks until 4 in the morning on weekends and get woken up every single day at 7 (except Sunday) by construction noises. Those noises came after me. I was here first. But there is nothing I can do about it. And I recognize that I made the choice to go into the line of work that I am in. And I recognize that there is a normal schedule that most people have and then there is the schedule that I have. And that schedule is not normal. And so I just have to deal with the fact that I live in a city, another thing that I chose. And I have to understand that there are lots of people who also live here who have competing interests and opposite hours and they have just as much of a right to go about their lives as I do. So, please, think about all that before you move somewhere. And realize that by you complaining about the noise, we are having to make ridiculous accommodations that result in making our bar less fun and that means less money for us. And that matters. Because this is our livelihood.

So, honestly, when I start complaining about the beeping of your child’s school bus and the cab that picks you up for your corporate job at 6am, then we can talk. But I’m never going to complain about those things. Because I am a reasonable human. So just shut the fuck up and move. I hear there are some really quiet towns in New Jersey.*

*No offense, New Jersey, I love you!

 

I really, really hate Yelp

14 May

I know that I have already blogged about Yelp on here and that maybe one blog about Yelp is enough but whatever. Fuck that. I am angry at Yelp. In fact, I despise Yelp. If I was really good at computers and could hack into Yelp and just make the entire thing fold in on itself I totally would. And if Yelp were a person, He (and Yelp is for sure a he because he makes space for entitled fucktards to air their oftentimes bullshit grievances without any fear of retribution) would be my arch nemesis.

Anyway so you know how people say you shouldn’t read the comments? Well as it turns out that rule also applies to reading Yelp reviews about the place you bartend at. Friends, I have amassed quite a number of negative Yelp reviews. And generally speaking I would say that maybe, given that knowledge, I should look inward and analyze my behavior and think to myself,

Self, perhaps you are in the wrong business. Perhaps all of these negative Yelp reviews are actually realistic and this entire time when you thought you were good at your job and nice to people and a positive influence in the world you were actually a horrible, horrible asshole who deserves to move into a cave and die there, cold and alone.

Ordinarily I would think that. But the thing about it is that the Yelp reviews about me are so asinine and so not even true that it’s like,

No! I should not die in a cave cold and alone! Unless that cave is the only place in the world without Yelp in which case, where do I sign up?

Okay so let’s get down to this. Is it true that I am starting to think that perhaps I should move on to another career that is not so unkind to my body, not so shitty for my sleep schedule and social life, and not so full of Liar McLiar faces? Yes. But moving into a cave? Absolutely off the table. For now. (Unless, as aforementioned, there is no Yelp.) So what has gotten me all in a tizzy on this beautiful Saturday morning? Well, I will tell you.

Last weekend before going to meet with friends I thought that I should just scoot around The Internet for a little and for some reason that scooting involved me looking at Yelp reviews of a bar I work at on the weekends. Stupid, I know. It’s like walking around in a dog park blindfolded and wondering why you stepped in shit. Anyway so obviously I came across a bad Yelp review about myself because people just loooooooooove to write bad Yelp reviews about me apparently. And what made this Yelp review different from all other Yelp reviews? The fact that along with the review there was a picture of me, from behind. And why did she take a picture of me? Was it because I was rude? No. Was it because I had ignored her? No. Was it because she didn’t like her drink? No. Was it because I was so super nice and also she really liked my outfit and wanted everyone to know? Also no. It was because I was changing the beers listed on our chalkboard and in order to do so I had to stand on the back bar. There were two alternatives to me doing that.

  1. Bring a rickety-ass ladder behind the bar at like 11pm on a Friday night and somehow not kill myself while my coworker tried to squeeze around the ladder in order to serve drinks and in the meantime someone would take a photo of me doing that and post it on Yelp.
  2. Not change the beer board which would have meant that my entire evening would have consisted of every single person at the bar ordering the only beer we no longer had and me having to explain that no, we don’t have that beer any more but we have this one instead and I just couldn’t change the beer board because changing the beer board could result in a picture of my ass ending up on Yelp

I wasn’t into either of those alternatives. (Truth be told my ass ending up on Yelp never would have occurred to me prior to this incident but now I will worry about it all the time. Thank you, Christina T.) So I changed the beer board. I got up on the back bar, I erased the writing on the board, I rewrote something else, and then I got down off the back bar and went back to doing the other parts of my job. And all the meanwhile someone, in her infinite wisdom and because her life is so hard and her observations so massively important, took a photo of me and then took time out of her night to go on The Internet and post it. Along with a review asking why I was standing on the back bar. And I want to be like

Bitch, I have chalk in my hand. I was clearly in the act of actually writing when you took that photo. Are you so daft that you cannot use your powers of deductive fucking reasoning to figure out that I was clearly changing the beer board you stupid, stupid asshole?!

But I couldn’t say those things. Nope. Because on Yelp customers get to go online and post bullshit about us in hopes of, what?, getting us fired? and we have essentially no recourse. All we can do is ignore Yelp, go about our business, and hope that people don’t write reviews of us doing such horrible things as putting a lime on a glass with our bare hands (ugh! ew!), or asking them to present ID with their credit cards (what a fucking cunt!), or cutting them off when they become aggressive or look like maybe they might vomit on themselves or someone else (what is she,allergic to fun?!). We have to go to our jobs fully aware that we might wake up to text messages from our bosses asking what happened with the dude who has taken to The Internet to claim that we stole his change when it is clearly shown on video that his change was returned, and with a smile no less. And we have to then read long diatribes by that “wronged” person calling us unprofessional and rude and racist for something that didn’t even happen. And it’s like, fuck! You guys! Seriously!

So in summation, I hate Yelp. I think Yelp is a horrible website and the people who write drunken bullshit on there are dicks who should have their Internet privileges revoked. Maybe they should be the ones to go spend some time in a cave, cold and lonely. I’m not saying that I am perfect. But don’t you have something better to do than feel a certain way about an experience and then make up flat out lies about a person you don’t even know who did nothing other than pour you a beer, charge you for it and then return your change? And also, please don’t post photos of me online. That’s rude. Oh, and also, don’t bring your own booze into my bar and then write a bad review about me when I kick you out. This isn’t self serve! Stay home! I hate you!

Yelp. I am coming for you. And when I find you it will not be pretty.

 

Tip #16 on Being a Good Bar Customer

2 Mar

Alright, kids, I’m back with the tips. And I think this one might be exceptionally snarky although honestly, at this point, my snark gage is all off and I can’t even tell anymore. After doing some (admittedly non-exhaustive) research on the topic, I am not going to link to my other tips here because pretty much no one ever clicks on those links. If you want to read more tips, I think there is a search tool somewhere around here. Or you could look at the “A Bartending Life” archives for all your bartending related content. If you disagree with the outcome of my study, feel free to comment below. Or don’t. Either way. So without further ado, your next tip.

If any of you have read one of the multitude of stupid Buzzfeed articles entitled “Ways to Get Your Bartender to Hate you” or “Ways to Behave in a Bar” or “This Man Orders a Drink. You Won’t Believe What Happens Next!”* which are basically always written by people who (a) seemingly have never bartended before and (b) cannot really write, this next tip will not come as a surprise to you. For those of you who have somehow managed to avoid all that clickbait: well done, you are my idol.

So last night some dude came in on the earlier side of my shift, sat down at the bar and looked confusedly around the room. His eyes, eventually, landed on the whisky selection. I would classify our whisky selection as pretty standard New York. We have a fair bit, but it’s all the usual suspects. Basil Hayden, Bulleit, Buffalo Trace.** You get it. If I had made a bet right then and there, I would have put money on him ordering a Bulleit Bourbon on the rocks. I was wrong. Not so wrong, as you will come to see, but wrong enough. I feel like betting is sort of an all-or-nothing proposition which is why I don’t like to do it. Shades of grey are totally my sweet spot. Anywho, instead of going the predictable route, he looked at me and said,

“Do you know how to make a Clint Eastwood?”

Ugh.

I replied that no, I did not, in such a way as to try to dissuade him from digging out his phone, Googling a ‘Clint Eastwood’ and then handing the phone over to me. I failed. He immediately reached into his pocket and started tap, tap, tapping away at the screen. Moments later he handed the phone to me with a meaningful look.

Why do people do this? First of all, the drinks that people want either contain something that most bars don’t have like velvet falernum or a raw egg or they are something made up by a bartender at some place like Little Branch as a result of some dude walking up to the bar and saying “I want something with gin that tastes like cloudberries and cotton candy but comes in a manly glass.” Second of all, whenever this scenario happens (not the cloudberries but the recipe googling) and I ask people what is in the drink, generally so that when they say Batavia-Arrack I can tell them I don’t have that and we can move on, they have absolutely no idea. And not just no idea like,

“well, it has gin, lime and the tears of a baby narwhal, I’m just not sure the proportions.”

No. They have no idea like,

“Oh, I have no idea.”

I begrudgingly took the phone while he looked at me, waiting for the moment when I would excitedly take out my shakers and my jiggers (kindly remove mind from gutter) and maybe bust out the suspenders that I have left hanging from my pants, eagerly awaiting the opportunity to suit up and get down to business. (He totally wasn’t expecting any of those things. I am just being a dick because the image I conjured made me giggle.) I looked at the screen and here is what I saw:

INGREDIENTS
1½ oz. Bulleit bourbon
¾ oz. Vya sweet vermouth
2 dashes Regan’s orange bitters
1 Amarena cherry, for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS
Combine bourbon, vermouth, and bitters in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass; garnish with cherry.

I want us all to just take a moment and look at this recipe. Really just take it all in. Think about what it might be similar to. Something that maybe you have had before? Because I don’t know but this looks to me like a variation on a Manhattan. Granted this one calls for different bitters – Ragan’s orange as opposed to the more common Angostura -and there is of course call liquor here and different proportions but that’s what makes it a variation. Also you’re supposed to shake this? Who shakes a Manhattan? It comes out all cloudy and weird when you shake it. (And this is where my inner snob comes out. I firmly believe, and this is my own personal thing so whatever I won’t impose it on those around me, that Manhattans and Martinis should be stirred. Always all the time. And that James Bond was an asshole. Although now I have done a little bit of research and apparently in Ian Fleming’s books Bond actually ordered his Martini “stirred not shaken.” Can anyone verify that for me? And can we count this as another example of a film adaptation being a lesser version of the book it is based on?)

Anyway, while in my head I was hearing Sean Connery say “shaken not stirred” on constant repeat, I broke the news to my customer that I didn’t have Ragan’s bitters or vya sweet vermouth but I could do the next best thing: seeing as how the “Clint Eastwood” was surprisingly similar to a Manhattan, and it just so happens that I make a pretty mean Manhattan, I offered to make him one of those instead. He seemed dejected and asked if he could see my selection of bitters. I placed the bottle of Angostura directly in front of him. And then it all seemed to click. He looked around the room and noticed the television, the lack of cocktail paraphernalia, the weird photo collages on the wall, the Christmas lights that are, for no real reason, still attached to the mirror, a mirror that is not intentionally aged to make it look all vintage. He was not in a cocktail bar. He begrudgingly agreed to have a Bulleit Manhattan but requested it be on the rocks.

*By and large these are my least favorite articles. The second I see something titled “Man tries to hug a wild lion, you won’t believe what happens next!” I become angry and storm away from the computer. Chances are I will believe what happens. And, as a direct result of that stupid title, I will not care.

**Unintentional alliteration!