Well, it’s news to me. Glad I know. Yes, this is for real. You just can’t make this stuff up folks.
Ahh… Tek-EE-la! No! Mes-KAL! No, Tequila! WTF’s the difference? Up until a few years ago, I’d be damned if I knew because in truth - none - of the bars I’ve worked over the last 20 or so years ever bothered to carry any Mezcal whatsoever. It just wasn’t “a thing” or in demand. Well folks, times have changed. With the proliferation of speakeasy’ish throwback bars in NYC the last few years, obscure, off-beat, and unique spirits are all the vogue and Mezcal is no exception. In other words, Hipsters and wealthy urban professionals are demanding here in The Big Apple are blowing this previously unpopular spirit up making it the next “thing.” But don’t the fact that douchebag-central loves them some Mezcal stop you from enjoying an utterly enjoyable off-the-beaten-path bevie come bevie time.
As much as you might despise your current gig, looking for and starting work at a new bar, will almost always suck more (initially). In an existing bar with several tenured barkeeps on the schedule, some of the downsides a new gig presents are: (a) squeaking out a living by bottom-feeding; working the seemingly least desirable (but available) shifts and (b) managing a royally life-invasive, frequently dynamic, week-to-week work schedule. Let’s face it: no one in their right mind actually wants to work Sundays. Religious zealots aside… most righteous adults have become well-accustomed to Sunday = FunDays and straight-up chilling. How the hell are you expected to earn a substantial living – for example – on a Monday closing or Tuesday opening shift? The short answer is rooted in: consistency, personality, salesmanship, and time. I frequently earn far more on shifts no other bartender wants than I would on the weekends. In the photo above, is Monday night’s haul – a couple of dollars shy of $700.
Barring maybe a half-dozen exceptions, most U.S. states do have no licensing or permitting requirements for slinging booze other than – say – being 18 years of age. In exchange for an on-premises liquor license, what the law does universally requie, is a minimum level of common sense, a lesson that both Kelly Tracy and Leah Bailey (bartenders at “My Bar“) have unfortunately learned the hard way. Both drink sligers (pictured above) were recently found guilty of “serving alcohol to an intoxicated person.” They now face a $500 fine and up to one year in prison. The “victim,” 55-year old Juan Diaz (also pictured above) – an apparent regular “drunk” at My Bar (we all have them don’t we?) was partaking in his habitually fun evening at said watering hole. He was somehow documented and witnessed as being not only legally intoxicated, but visibly intoxicated. We in the business, particularly those having been through their municipality’s Alcohol Awareness Training/Certification, are all aware of the tell-tale signs and risks. Mr. Diaz calmly proceeded to stagger into the street and pick a fight with a two ton speeding hunk of metal on wheels. Mr. Diaz predictably lost the battle and is now comfortably resting at room temperature.
As appreciative as I am gaining my livelihood on the back of alcohol sales, and as frequently as I enjoy a moderate amount myself, I’m convinced that booze has the most detrimental impact on society with respect to controlled substances as well as illicit drugs. And yes, alcohol is a drug. It’s simply a legal (mostly), somewhat regulated substance. If you’ve convinced yourself otherwise, you’re simply delusional. That may seem a rather grand statement for the “average” person who drinks casually with nary a negative, alcohol-related repercussion. Those folks – myself included – have simply grown accustomed to acceptance of drinking culture, and can reasonably and responsibly enjoy themselves in the midst of a city obsessed with public consumption. On the other hand, there are countless “victims” who not only lose inhibition when intoxicated, but chronically cross a distinct “line in the sand” into (a) severe, alcohol-attributable health degradation (b) a no-recollection black-out zone where one can be robbed or sexually violated (c) depleting funds otherwise earmarked for rent, diapers, food, utility bills, etc. and finally, (d) violence. Today I’m dropping knowledge on that small percentage of folks who fall into that last category: the violent drunks. Remember… this is a bartending blog. As such, what I’m about to share is experience from a bartender’s perspective – not Security’s, Management’s, patrons’ or any other point of view. Continue reading
I know… the title sounds like a bad 70′s sit-com. But here’s the bottom-line: The Man really doesn’t appreciate you/us being in a “cash business” and will flex everyone of his muscles in an attempt to put the hurt on your wallet these days. That’s true of both business owners as well as bartenders/servers. Over the last 20 or so years – coinciding with the rise of the machine (read: computerization of anything and everything) – The Feds and your municipal tax thieves have been putting the smack down on our business like never before mostly because they have the ability to do so like never before. If they’re not all up in your grill today, rest assured that they will be paying your trusty liquor-dispensery a visit sooner or later in order to forcibly extract their not-so-fair share of your income.
Gratuities confuse people. Somewhat predictably, the young seem to be plagued with the most widespread ignorance on tipping. Perhaps it’s just a lack of education. While just about every parent, or whatever, feels obligated to drop knowledge on topics like the birds and the bees and the importance of earning a few bucks delivering pizza, few parents deem it important to educate their offspring on social etiquette like tipping. As a result, young’ns learn this shit the hard way – that is: by being repeatedly embarrassed by colleagues or even by waiters and bartenders until they eventually grow the fuck up. They can be perplexed by sub-stellar service or why they’re ignored for long periods of time. They can even be cut off by bartenders and waiters. It’s a vicious cycle. Those folks sometimes feel antagonized and as a result – you guessed it – don’t tip well or don’t tip at all.
This is by no means meant to be a commentary on my personal appearance, or an evaluation of my “attractiveness” or lack thereof. However, throughout my career, I’ve managed to land bartending gigs in several “high-profile” (read: trendy) bars/clubs, teeming with stereotypically attractive young barkeeps. Read from that what you will. I’m not inferring anything in particular. But, I’m not gonna lie; being surrounded by the hotness does have a certain way of making a brother feel good.
Dude. I’m a bartender. Get it? Bartending is “what else” I do. This summer, I’ll (celebrate?) my 20th year since I first got behind the stick. Wow! At this point in my life, it’s clearly a profession, lifestyle choice, and environment that suits me – I think. However, a continued life of pseudo-Indentured Servitude – for that enigma called “The Man” (read: rich boss man) – is something that no longer agrees with me. I’ve grown into too much of an obsessive perfectionist, too knowledgeable for my own good, and sometimes, too bitter to accept idiocy or swallow stupidity. For those reasons, I’m working to complete my Business Plan, save more money and open my own bar. My bartending stint has introduced me to a seemingly endless string of wanna-be investors all itching to pull the proverbial trigger. They’re simply awaiting an extensive, qualified plan, and for that plan to be put into action.
I’ve witnessed far dumber (albeit, determined) folks – many with little grasp on the English language – achieve stupendous success and wealth in this business. In each instance, I’m left scratching my head, pondering: “how?” Regardless of how they obtained the Seed Money, how they navigated the dozen or so onerous permit processes, how they managed to flourish despite having abysmal operational efficiencies, etc., the point is: they did it. I consider myself far more knowledgeable about most aspects of the bar/restaurant business then they; so much so that I find myself being tapped for consulting engagements with increasing frequency. As much as I’m occasionally entertained by Bar Rescue, I tend to think Taffer is a smart man who’s much more of a master marketer (with cheesy taste), and less of the “genius” barman the entertainment business portrays him to be. Anyway, I tend to believe there’s no reason I wouldn’t be uber-successful running my own shop.