So How Much Money do you Make?

I get a lot of seriously dumb-shit questions. Many genius customers throw unabashed inquiries out there with such ease and candor, you would think I’d known them for decades. I incessantly get questions like : (a) gay or straight (b) do you have a girlfriend [really stupid question - just go for it dumbass] (c) what should I drink (d) do you know how to make a Tuscaloosa Screaming Cucumber Reach-Around shot [or some other obscure restaurant's house special] and finally (e) it’s my birthday – buy me a drink? There is one subject of interrogation however, which irks me something terrible. That is: “so, how much money do you make?”

Well, Douchebag (greatest word in the English language), “How much money do you make?” Do I show up at your options and swaps trading desk and ask you about your big fat commissions? Do I ask if you’ve met your target December bonus thresholds and what you’ll be doing with said bonus? Are you struggling to decide which convertible Porsche 911 variant you’ll be leasing this year to match what’s left of your corn-row Bosley hair plugs, Havana Cohibas, and crisp Thomas Pink collection? Why do you feel the need to dig into my personal financial business? For the sake of all things holy, I’m going to spell it out for you below and hope you read my post. Maybe, I can finally put to this question to bed and duck the topic (and fake smile) at work at little less… you know – the place where I have little leverage to tell you what a retarded question you’re asking lest I be shit-canned for directly telling you like it is.

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All Roads Lead to Cork or Maybe Dublin

Like most Service Industry dweebs, this bartender consumes copious amounts of Jameson Irish Whiskey – pure sorcery. I drink a lot of this shit. I’d estimate that I drink it more frequently than all other alcoholic beverages I consume combined. I drink it on the job and off, both day and night. There’s only one problem: Jameson Irish Whiskey tastes like ass. Yeah, you heard me; I said it. Given the choice, I’d rather suck on a rusty hitch ball than touch the stuff. Yet, I must continue to guzzle this crap. I’ll explain why.

The heart of the issue is twofold:

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Supersize Wine Glass

This lovely evening has graced the New York City area with Mother Nature’s finest imitation of shit London weather. I fucking love London. I don’t love London’s weather (or Londoners’ teeth). When it gets all rainy and overcast like this, I grow fond of planting my dumb ass firmly on the couch. I like to compliment the R&R by consuming serious quantities of cheap vino, that I’ve convinced myself is a far more expensive varietal. I usually accomplish my mission by dribbling some $5 Trader Joe’s crap into a fancy, over-sized crystal goblet. I’ll swish it around, study the “legs,” rest in the “nose” for a minute, and finally, gargle the first gulp like a banshee. Good show, eh?

The only rub is that I have to keep getting my lazy arse up to refill my lovely goblet lest my buzz go by the wayside. The solution? Vat19′s Texas-sized  gargantuan wine glass. Itholds a fucking fifth of liquid people. That’s an entire bottle of wine – 750ml.

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I’ve decided that I’m in the wrong business. I should not be bartending. I need to dream up some ridonculous (but truly useful) products in the footsteps of my Clapper, Chia Pet, Snuggly, and Foreman Grill predecessors.

Paying the Hospitality Dues – Early Life Choices

Life’s funny, ain’t it? Weird happenings and stranger choices often conspire to drive us in odd directions that can only be honestly evaluated, and appreciated, decades down the road. My Service Industry career certainly fits that description.

I wasn’t particularly outgoing as a small child. I grew up in suburbia – Bayside. It was, at the time, a predominantly Irish and Italian working class Queens neighborhood on New York City’s outskirts – bordering Long Island. Everyone had names like Joe, Bobby, Anthony, Frankie, Patrick, Declan, and Marie. No one here was wealthy but we all enjoyed a pretty damned good childhood. It was the 70′s and 80′s so instead of endless hours playing the latest incarnation of Medal of Honor or Minecraft, we’d spend our days (1) playing stickball in the middle of the street, using manhole covers as bases (2) cooling off with Marco Polo and Chicken Fights in each others’ above-ground pools and (3) riding our bikes back and forth to Coronet’s candy store to get some more Lik-a-Stiks, fifty cent juice drinks, and party poppers. Life was different and looking back, life was pretty good.

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The Soda Gun Cleaning Brigade


See this thing folks? Know what it is? It’s Wunderbar’s commercial soda gun dispenser. It’s the source of all things carbonated at 99% of bars. If you don’t rock Wunderbar, your place has some other blue Pepsi-based Tier-2 setup or you have the misfortune of working in some funky Italian eatery whose owner insists on “keeping it really real” by continuing to use those idiotic (but cute) little 8oz glass bottles of Coke, Schweppes, tonic, etc. Those dainty bottles are the shiznit in terms of cool-factor but are utterly useless in a busy bar – a huge liability (money pit).

Now, guess that that soda gun insn’t folks? It’s not a fucking sink!

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86 This Booze – Les Cochons Edition

Les Francais – ahhh! I heart most things French. I’m fluent in the language. I’ve been there several times. Many relatives of mine call France home and I’m partly descended from our infamously frog leg-loving brethren. I’d pick my dumbass up and move there in a hearbeat if I had the balls and wherewithal to uproot my family.  The culture is beyond exquisite, the food supremely brilliant and the lifestyle (focus on socialization, eating and relaxation) is the best thing this side of the Pearly Gates.

However, when it comes to France’s mass-produced liquor industry, Old World charm, and attention to detail, have given way to greed on a grand scale. At least, that’s the case for the shit that Big Business has been pushing on us Americans over the last decade or so.

With that, let’s take a look at some brands you should – um – perhaps reconsider carrying. Eh.. to each his own I guess. This is simply my rant on what I’ve come to loathe serving over the years and what will never be carried in the bar where, one day, I will call myself proprietor.

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Types of Bar Customers – Part Two

Part I can be found here.

1. David Copperfield: Mr. Copperfield believes he’s your BFF and that you’ll do just about anything for him. He walk-runs to the bar on a hot day – all sweaty like, greets you and orders a drink. By the time you turn around to place the drink on the bar and request payment, he is gone – MIA – an astonishing disappearing act. Maybe he’s gone pee? Make a phone call? Who knows? He may not be back for 20 minutes, if at all. But you sure as hell are expected to have his seat saved should he make a sudden reappearance.

2. The Illiterate – The Illiterate is there for a refreshing White Wine Spritzer and a quick snack. She reviews the menu and asks you for suggestions. She displays a series of confused facial expression, then proceeds to have the kitchen craft her own concoction – not on the menu – half of whose ingredients your kitchen doesn’t even carry. A typical request will be something like: free range, organic pheasant salad, with quail eggs, seaweed, and blanched, baby bamboo shoots, drizzled with fat-free Caesar dressing. The actual menu offerings might as well be from a different restaurant as far as she’s concerned.

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Ordering Fail – Hanes Dude

Jean-Luc Picard Facepalm

I work at a high-end establishment. I mean, 75% of the chicks could pass for strippers. They sport the most sizzling short-shorts and skimpy dresses you’ve ever seen. Five inch wedges and platforms are the only shoe seen. Boobage intentionally spilling out is de rigueur. Most of the guys keep tabs open with Amex Black Cards and have titles like Dr., Esq., and Phd. If they don’t have titles, they either some kind of sole proprietorship ( jewelers, rug importers, etc.) or are traders and hedge fund managers. There is rarely one guy during the week who isn’t sporting a long-sleeve, fresh-pressed button shirt or a full suit.

The price of admission to this circle is steep. One great thing about high-end, high-priced bars is that the frequency with which trashy, broke, problem-causing losers get in is inversely proportional to cost and exclusivity (for the most part). That’s not to say that there aren’t douchebags among the highly-educated and wealthy set – of course there are. But, there are far fewer.

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iBlog – Perils of Bartender Bloggers


Today, we take a break from our normal routine to dish a little bit on Bartending and Blogging; the why, how, when, and what not to do. Guess I should prolly quit that third-person speak – ala, the “Queen of Media,” blogger numero uno, and jizz drawer, Perez Hilton.  Eh…it’s fitting at times I guess. I’m approaching 100 posts or so and I thought it only fitting I write a little anecdote on getting all loose at the lips, letting your unfiltered mouth run amuck. I’ve been getting random questions about the topic and even the old lady, an extremely private type, is suddenly hit by the exhibitionist blogging bug.

It’s been about 10 months since I started dishing dirt on bartending via my blog. I’ve been in the restaurant/bar business since I was 16. I’ve been bartending since 1994. Yikes – old fart. Within just a couple of short years after getting behind the stick, I had already compiled such a litany of stories (mundane, horrible, as well as “uplifting”), that I repeatedly joked about documenting them all. I’d write a book and get it published – you know – making some much needed loot while sharing a breadth of bartending knowledge. How hard can it be? I’ve picked up a half-a-dozen crap bartending books at Barnes and Noble over the years. Most of them sucked ass. Yet, they were selling – somehow. I imagined I could do better – be faster, stronger, etc. (Steve Austin reference).

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Or is it “Stirred not Shaken?” BR Guest Waxes Poetic on Stirring

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675 Bar. It’s smack dab in the epicenter of bedlam, MPD (that’s The Meatpacking District for you uninitiated folks). 675 Bar is actually a neat little bar directly below Bill’s Burger. It has an eclectic scene most weeknights. It’s sandwiched between The Gansevoort and one of those chain, pseudo-Mexican spots – Dos Caminos. Ara, a local industry wine bar, is thrown in there too for good measure. Dos Caminos is right up there in quality and stature with The Olive Garden, in my not so humble opinion. They’ve spread to 4 or 5 locations all over Manhattan. I’d like to find the dude that leased Dos the space in MPD, in particular, and tie him to the 14th street F-train subway entrance on a 98 degree July day so he can “waft” in the subway’s finest, Summer aromas. Ok, ok… I jest somewhat. I’ve eaten at Dos (on Park Ave) a few times. The food is just fine, the cocktails yummy, and the overall experience: pretty good.

Interestingly enough, both 675 Bar and Dos Caminos are both BR Guest establishments.  BR Guest is one of a couple of dozen, large scale, NYC-based hospitality management organizations that have proliferated in the last decade or two. Their properties also include fine spots like Strip House, Primehouse and Blue Water Grill. Sometimes they get it really right (read: Blue Water) and other times (as in the aforementioned Dos Caminos) err… not so much.

Anyway, Eben Klemm, BR Guests corporate – um – “mixologist,” (here we go again with the labels) dishes on Manhattans – shaken v. stirred.  Me? I don’t give two craps about [temporary] cloudiness and tiny shards of ice that will dissolve in a minute anyway. I kind of like them – and I’m a life-long Bourbon/Manhattan aficionado. As I mentioned in a previous article, I’ll take my Manhattan extra cold – thank you. All else being equal, shaking will generally result in a colder cocktail.

Mr. Klemm gets the proportions correct, thankfully. He’s got a weird shake and uses a jigger, which simply won’t fly in busy spots, but whatever – those things may just be camera fodder. Bartenders need to be able to free pour those measurements like clockwork. If you watch the video, clearly he’s bent on pushing stirred. Just like Mr. Klemm, our buddy Doug, over at The Pegu Blog, is also adamant about stirring over shaking. I’m in the opposite camp.

What say you Kimosabe?