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« Aw: Woman Fitted With Cochlear Implants Hears for the First Time In Her Life | Main | Saturday Morning Open Thread »
March 28, 2014

Overnight Open Thread -- 3/28/2014: Hey Bartender Edition

Hi again, 'Rons n' 'Ettes. DDR, here. Seems CDRM is busy running around telling people to do stuff tonight, so I'm filling in on his behalf in order to ensure that your Friday night ONT needs are met to a relatively plausible degree. As you know, I have this thing where I can't just throw together a bunch of stuff and call it an ONT. I don't know what it is, but I have a compulsion to try and tie a bunch of crap into a neat little package and pretend I knew where the hell I was going when I started.

Tonight's ONT will be centered around what I do when I'm not lurking or commenting here at the HQ, taking and editing photos, practicing the guitar, or drinking -- which is bartending. I've covered this territory before here, but inasmuch as my occupation is a key feature in the Ace of Spades Lifestyle, I figured I could go back to the well and no one would notice. It's not like anyone reads this part of the ONT, anyway.

Let me start out by stipulating that I work at what most people would consider a dive bar. We have a pretty limited selection -- such that we only keep a fifth each of Woodford Reserve and Patron on hand. And we only have those because people kept asking for them on busy nights and special occasions. For the most part, we're a beer-and-a-shot establishment. And when you find yourself in a bar like the one where I work, it's a good idea to keep that in mind and order accordingly.

As much as I love fancy cocktails at, say, The Oak Bar, there's something oddly charming about ordering a two dollar beer and a shot in a dirty, peanut-covered dive where you heard there was recently a knife fight. It's a kind of urban adventure. That said, when you're taking such an adventure, especially when you're outside of your usual domain, you should observe some key rules of etiquette.

That's right, I said etiquette. Etiquette isn't just about salad forks and car doors, it's about doing as the Romans do, so as not to irritate anybody or make yourself unnecessarily conspicuous. Blending in is the foundation of civilized society, even in bars where your shoes stick to the floor when you walk.

That's not to say I can't mix up something snazzy for you. It's just that I'm somewhat limited by the inventory we keep on hand. Our regular crowd is a decidedly blue collar bunch, but we do get a few fine ladies in from time to time, so we keep enough frootie-froo-froo stuff in stock to make sure we can come reasonably close to their tastes. Still, if you're going to order something along those lines, it's best to do so judiciously. For instance, when the bar is stacked three-deep and there's one guy (me) frantically running hither and yon just trying to keep beer in front of people, it's probably not a good time to snap your fingers and order a Mojito.

Getting on a bartender's good side can mean the difference between service with a smile, or service with a resentful spittle float. Luckily, bartenders are largely very easy to charm. All of them. All.

PBR or Perrier-Jouët, it always tastes better if the person serving it genuinely cares about you, and luckily, whether they do is largely up to you.

Just because you're only there for an hour or two doesn't mean your bartender doesn't want to be your best friend. Here are a few easy tips to help you enchant the bejesus out of them.

It's also a good practice to scope out just what type of bartender you have in front of you when considering your drink order. Me, I'm an amalgamation of The Machine and The Grizzled Veteran:

The Machine

Pros: Inhuman speed, dazzling performance.

Cons: Mixes can be sloppy, you may feel dehumanized.

Turf: High volume bars.

What he says: “Quick, whatreyouhavin?”

What he means: “Turn, you goddamn cog, turn!

The Grizzled Veteran

Cons: Tends to favor regulars, can get grumpy.

Pros: Well of wisdom, calm and competent service, doesn’t rattle under pressure.

What he says: “John Wayne used to drink in here.”

What he means: “You ain’t no John Wayne.”

Turf: Dives, neighborhood bars.

What I ain't is one of these guys:

So if you walk up to my bar and act like one of these people . . .

. . . I'm going to turn into this guy:

And if there's anyone whose good side you want to stay on, it's your bartender. Fortunately, that's not hard to do. It's a simple matter of situational awareness and an understanding that no matter how much of a special little snowflake you may be, he's seen you before and he knows your kind.

If you order a cement mixer for your naive friend, you’re an asshole.

If you order a cement mixer for yourself, there’s something wrong with you.

If you order pitcher after pitcher of the cheapest draft beer we have, and only need one glass or mug to go with it, you’re most likely drinking to numb the pain of existence, and probably just want to be left alone.

If you come to the bar frequently and only ever order one or two different types of drinks, it’s safe to assume that you’ve been around the block, and you now know what you like. You have my respect, even if your drink is an amaretto sour.

If you lean over the bar and try to grab the plastic box of index cards where I keep all my drink recipes, so you can look through everything and order the weirdest drink you can find, you’re an irritating individual and I want you to leave my bar as soon as possible. Unless you’re going to tip me well, which you most certainly are not.

If you’re in a group of squealing girls wearing matching t-shirts and/or tiaras, you will most likely order some shot or drink which is always complicated, messy, and involves fire. You are the bane of my existence because in the seven minutes you’re there, you will swoop in, make a racket, order 30 of something, make a mess, demand to see me throw bottles around like they do in the movie “Cocktail,” argue with me over the tab, argue amongst yourselves about who is paying the tab, and tip poorly (if at all), before hauling your obnoxious asses to the next bar down the block, leaving me with a huge mess to clean up, decreasing the level of service I’m able to provide to my regular customers – the ones who spend lots of time and money at my bar. If this is you, you’re an inconsiderate taint. Please go die in a fire.

Now, believe it or not, I'm actually a pretty easygoing guy. I generally get pretty good crowd of regulars on the nights I work, and they always seem to have a good enough time to want to come back. But, just like any other bartender, I have my off nights. And 99% of the time, those nights are a consequence of patrons who don't quite grasp bar etiquette, whether because they're inveterate douchebags, or inexperienced drinkers who simply haven't learned the ropes of how to conduct themselves in a busy establishment.

It's easy to become jaded as a bartender, and the only way to avoid becoming a complete misanthrope is to get completely away from the scene as frequently as you can. While tempting, it's not a good idea to spend your days off at a bar. You end up socializing with the very kinds of people who drive you to the brink of complete burnout while you're at work, so there's never a true break from the sometimes maddening routine that constitutes your working life.

That's why I like to spend my off hours doing things far removed from my workweek -- hanging out here at the HQ, photography and guitar playing. It helps me to tolerate the occasional besotted lout who stumbles into my workplace a little more easily, and that helps to ensure that the salt of the earth types who make up the large majority of my patrons have a good time while sitting at my bar.

And having other interests outside of work holds the added benefit of giving you something to talk about with the ones you inevitably befriend over the years. For instance, my recently developed obsession with guitars led me to watch this utterly fascinating documentary, which I intend to tell all my musically-inclined friends and customers about this weekend.

Speaking of weekends, enjoy yours 'Rons n' 'Ettes!

Tonight's ONT brought to you by Bartenders' Shoes Before and After Two Years.

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posted by Damn Dirty RINO at 10:02 PM

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