Since starting this blog, I’ve at times been accused of misogyny. I dunno how that’s possible. In my business, it’s a woman’s world plain and simple. So, to counter my seemingly frequent exploitation of attractive female bartenders, tonight I’m gonna show y’all naysayers wrong and highlight a man wif strumf (in the immortal words of Blaine Edwards). This is fellow Bartender Joe Ardizzone up in the Brandy’s Piano Bar heezy. Joe likes singing – a lot. I don’t know Joe personally, and I’ve never stepped foot in Brandys, but I suspect he also fancies fancy craft beers and extravagant meals at least as much as I do. But, that’s besides the point. Joe absolutely kills Creep in smashing operatic style. At this point – given his stupendous talent – Joe should probably be auditioning for The Voice, backing up Il Volo, or worst case, making serious coin belting out tunes at the West 4th St. Subway platform or something.
Working Front-of-the-House in the Service Industry in various venues, you’ll inevitably have to get your learn-ed on, in terms of wine basics. At the very least, you’ll have to become well-versed in faking it with a showy, resume-word-laden service spiel, that “implies” you know what the fuck you’re talking about when it comes to sour grapes. Now, if you’re employed by a dive bar (and actually have a red and a white offering beyond Fonzie jugs of Manischewitz) you may not have to know much more than which variety is dry and which is – ehem – sweet. On the flip side, if you’re fortunate enough to land a high-income gig at a trendy Steakhouse, unionized Hotel bar, any French/Italian Restaurant, or the myriad of genres in between, which have actually put some thought into their wine lists, you must possess basic Somm skills.
I started this blog as a goof, an outlet for a few pent-up frustrations, and for self-psychotherapy. I held no other expectations. The unexpected however, has a way of creeping up on your ass when you least expect it. Having a [public] social media presence has a way of attracting attention – sometimes wanted, other times – not so much. So it’s been with this blog as the year and a half has crept by.
On the good side, I’ve met all kinds of Hospitality blogger geeks and established some pretty cool relationships. I’ve had the good fortune of being contacted by, and participating in several articles, interviews, and now videos, from major and minor publications. It’s all good I guess.
So it was the other day when Huffington Post reached out to me. They highlighted an article from BroBible.com, “Confessions of Bartender” and reached out to a few folks (myself included) to add a little colored commentary. The article is pretty well written and accurately conveys many issues and concerns I’ve mentioned previously.
Gotta love the InterToobs and Google Hangouts I must say.
I’m an ass (my own ass shot for posterity). After a few multi-year bartending stints in a couple of key NYC venues, I flew the coop. I had been in one particular bar so long, it had become unfortunate home. My regulars became my drinking buddies and, cursedly, my Facebook “friends.” I had become so comfortable – in a poisonous environment – that I had already “jumped the shark” in my own head and subsequently, career path. I knew the time had come to become… The Gypsy Bartender. As a vagabond, I would wander from bar to bar, doing guest spots, seasonal gigs, and mostly – not getting into my previous groove with my much-adored co-conspirator.
I went out after work for that “one drink” with the crew a couple of nights ago. We happened to be at The Crooked Knife on 14th St. That’s borderline Meatpacking District/Chelsea for you out-of-towners. After a bad-ass, long, hot, sticky, dirty, demanding evening on my feet, I’m all in for settling down at the local watering hole (once in a while) and kicking back before the journey home. Here’s how I get down: I double-fist it – mostly.
You’re looking at my (1) a pint of Magic Hat #9 and (2) a shot of Michters [with three cubes] – a decent rye with a mildly fruity nose, and a fairly smooth finish. Coincidentally, Michters is one of the oldest distilleries in the U.S. – dating back to before our independence.
I’m a seriously obsessive, compulsive freak. It’s not my fault… It’s my Mom’s. She’s an over-the-top, O.C.D. nightmare times ten and I, for better or worse, inherited a lot of those qualities. I rate myself right about in the average tier of the disease’s spectrum. Admittedly, getting freaky-deaky with organizational skills does come in handy when behind the bar – except when it doesn’t. Case in point: sharing a register with others.
Above, is a picture of my personal drawer at the end of a shift.
In our first segment, we took a look at some of my bar managers’ “character flaws.” There isn’t nearly enough digital ink to characterize everyone of them in one article without imparting Nintendo thumb on your ass – forcing you to endlessly scroll. With that, I present to you Bar Manager Breakdown Part II – all based on real-life “tools” of the trade.
Papillon – The want-to-be escape artist. He’s got some other life long ambition going on (drummer, drag queen singer, Pro bono junior museum curator, or whatever). He’s actually a pretty good bar manager but simply will not stay the fuck away from the service bar, incessantly talking shit (to you) about his dreams of breaking free from Corporate’s chains. The trouble is, he’s been in the game for 20 years and hasn’t made a single significant dent with his extracurricular activities. Bless him for trying though. He just needs to quit the endless complaining and focus at the task at hand: making loot and nailing ass – and helping you do the same.
Meet Captain Obvious (Dubya is his idol). Captain Obvious’ nightly stint at the bar is the culmination of all his life’s endeavors – his place to be seen and unwind. He’s got his Wharton MBA, a six-figure salary and obscene bonus via some hedge fund or obscure Goldman trading desk, and a new lease on the latest BMW M5. He’s also a card-carrying, staunchly conservative republican. But, despite upper-crust C.O.’s elitist upbringing, he’s got zero grasp on common sense. He’s got no clue fold a fitted sheet, re-ignite a pilot light, change a tire or worst – order a drink. “Uhh… give me a Corona [pause]… with lime!” Well, no shit asshole…
Chicks and credit cards. When did they become joined at the hip and so socially unaware of anyone and everything around them? Young chicks, old chicks, models, fugly chicks, college girls, 4′s, 9′s, sophisticated Upper-East-Siders… all kinds. It’s as if 8 out of 10 of them skipped the entire semester on Dining and Drinking Etiquette – opting instead for How to Behave Badly at Bar 101.
The air around a gaggle of girls rolling up my bar is so thick with anticipation, it makes bartenders instantly panic-stricken. The last thing I want to see when I’m rolling 3-deep on a Friday night, is see Cindy, Paula, Antionette and Lindsey sashay (they do that on purpose) up to the counter. They’re all 24 years of age, sporting super-sexy platforms platforms, barely-there spaghetti-string chiffon blouses, and skirts that really don’t hide their vajayjays all that well from most angles.
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.