Archive for the ‘Bartending’ Category


What more can I say?

February 8, 2009

New Math

December 7, 2008

Dear Bartender: I’m no mathematician, but I’ve been thinking… If I go to a bar and drink 8 beers, tipping a dollar each beer, at $5 a pop I’ll spend $48.00. BUT, if I drink 8 beers and tip TWO dollars each time — and, as a consequence, the bartender comps me every fourth beer (not an unreasonable expectation, I hope) — I’ll spend only $46.00. It’s win/win for everyone! I’ve saved myself two bucks and doubled the bartender’s income. No small thing in these troubled times, am I right?


Dear Wizard: Yes, if you choose your bartender wisely. Think of yourself as Congress and your bartender as one of the Big Three; no sensible person should invest in something clueless.


Dads I’d Like to Do Once

September 8, 2008

Dear Bartender: My young daughter’s best friend’s dad is single, retired, seemingly rather well off, and taking a bartending class for fun. I’m single, poor and love to drink. I’m thinking of broaching the subject of him using me as a guinea pig for his bartending skills as a segue into checking out whether we might hit it off. It might be awkward but that’s really never stopped me from sticking my neck out before.

My question is, what drink or drinks should I ask him to make me that will be sending the message that I’m available? And don’t say a Harvey Wallbanger.


Dear  MILF: Since from your tone I’m guessing you’re also going to rule out a Sloe Comfortable Screw Against The Wall (or even better: a Sloe Comfortable Screw Against The Wall With Satin Pillows The Hard Way), I’m not sure what’s left. How about you just do the old fashioned thing and get him drunk? Short of hitting him on the head with a club, it’s about the easiest way for a woman to see if she and some guy she wants to fuck can manage to “hit it off.”


Yet again

August 3, 2008

Dear Readers: I got the following two letters recently:

Dear Bartender: So, Saturday night I went to a bar with a group of friends and I decided to buy a round of drinks. I’m usually a nice customer and I asked the bartender to take a shot with me and tipped him well after he closed my tab.

I asked for his name and I told him mine. He then told me that he is moving to a different bar and will be working there Tues and Wed. I asked if he was going to remember me if I go visit and he said yes.

Is he working me to become a regular customer or was he interested?

And the 2nd letter:

Dear Bartender: About a month and a half ago I was introduced to a bartender at the bar where my coworkers and I were having drinks. I’d always assumed that his flirty attitude was him simply “doing his job.” Recently though he suggested I go to a bar where he was going after work. i asked if the place was worth going to, and he replied I will be there so of course it was worth going to. I went and we spent most of the night talking, sharing our life stories, he introduced me to some of his friends, and anytime he would leave he would assure me that he would be right back. I am still quite apprehensive simply because he is a bartender.

Is he really interested?

So, Readers, I was tempted to simply say that I’ve answered this question before (and not just once, either) — but then I read the second letter more carefully.

People: Bartenders flirt. Enjoy it. Have fun. By all means, flirt back. But it’s a safe bet in the end he’s not trying to sleep with you.

I gotta admit, however, that if he invites you out to another bar, one he doesn’t work at, and spends the entire night exchanging life stories and introducing you to his friends — you may indeed have found your next squeeze.


Holds barred

August 1, 2008

Dear Bartender: I’ve been interested in bartending for a very long time now but always have been too afraid to try because I felt I would never be able to handle the drinks. But I’ve finally applied and have a trial shift at a very nice place. I love talking to people, asking questions and listening to their long answers, hearing their views on things…

Can you give me any advice on how to be a successful beginner bartender and prove to the management that I am the right person for the job? I’m not in this just to make lots of money or to get free drinks or meet attractive men. It just seems like a good job to talk to lots of different people in a laid-back environment.

I hope this message doesn’t sound too stupid. You’re a very witty and sarcastic person, so the last thing I need is a smart-ass response because I’m trying to be serious and hopefully get some good advice from a professional.


Dear Jackie. Ouch. Here I was all ready with a sarcastic, witty response and you go ahead and ask me to restrain myself.

So I’m stuck with, what? Answering your question? Jeez.

You’re already good at listening; that’s a great skill. The only things left are confidence, a killer smile, a quick wit, an ability to accurately count change and an uncanny knack at remembering who drinks what.

If you can manage all that, you’re home free. If you can’t, figure out your weak spots and compensate with an extraordinary ability in any of the other categories.

OK, people, your bartender Mitch will now return to his usual sarcastic and witty self. Beware.


Where have all the good times gone?

May 18, 2008

Dear Bartender: I like vodka tonics after work, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed an aversion to sweet things.

I’m thinking I’d like to find unsweetened tonic water, and then add Rose’s Lime juice or just a touch of sugar syrup or something to my own taste. I know they have diet tonic water, but it still tastes sweet (and gross).

Does anyone make carbonated tonic water with no sweetener?



Dear Will: Interestingly, tonic water will fluoresce under ultraviolet light. And if you find your tonic too bitter, you can add a pinch of salt.

But that has nothing to do with your question, which was how to find something carbonated that isn’t so sweet.

What happened to all the questions I used to get from slutty priests? Will, switch to vodka soda.


Money Changes Everything

May 16, 2008

Dear Bartender: I’ve been a bartender for a few years, and am just recently finding some work at private functions. I have a gig coming up on Saturday, it’s an African dance party. The person hiring me found me online, and asked me about my rates, and I have know idea what to say! Any functions I’ve ever done have been booked through the bar I was working at, so I was only paid my regular wage. This is the first time I’ll be hiring myself out, and I’m not sure what bartenders usually make. I’ll work about 7 hours including time to help set up the bar, and they are allowing me to have a tip cup, so what do I charge????? Thanks!


Dear Kira: I don’t know. Where do you live, in a big city or a small town? How many people are you expected to serve? How rich are the people hiring you?

How about this: decide how much you want to make total, divide it by 7 and then add $5, cuz you’re worth more than you think. And put that tip jar away — tip jars have no place at a private party.


Melt With You

May 13, 2008

Dear Bartender: I have been having a problem when serving frozen cocktails such as a margarita or pina colada. Almost every time all the ice ends up watering the flavor of the cocktail. Any sugestions?


Dear Nestor: Use more liquor. Or use less ice. Or serve the lightweights last. Or do what I do: make the first batch so fucking strong that everyone’s too bombed to know what they’re drinking next.


It’s raining, it’s pouring…

May 5, 2008

Dear Bartender: How do you know when to cut someone off? And when you do cut someone off, how do you do it?


Dear Slushy: The when depends on the who. I don’t cut everyone off at the same point of drunkenness. Some factors: Is he driving? What kind of drunk is he — happy, messy, angry, weepy? (Angry gets cut off first.) How familiar am I with his tolerance? I have a cheat sheet in my head of the regulars who can cross that fine line with little warning.

If it’s someone I don’t know, I watch how he interacts with the other customers — you know, to see if he’s bothering anyone or is getting sloppy. I’ve even cut off guys I didn’t know well who weren’t yet drunk but were drinking so much so fast that, should they suddenly cross some digital shift into totally plastered, I’d be pretty screwed if I had to tell my boss I’d only served him twenty gin rickies.

The how is easier. In a word: clearly. You don’t have to be mean about it if you’ve left no room for negotiation.

Cheers. Next one’s on me.


Fill ‘er up

April 26, 2008

Dear Bartender: Here’s a question. It was posed by a normally somber but on this particular evening tipsy-loud fellow at a party. If someone asks for a Miller, what do you, as a bartender, give him: a Miller Lite or a Miller High-Life? Somber insisted that someone would order a High-Life if that’s what he wanted, but a “Miller” if he wanted a Miller Lite. And I guess men are too macho to add the Lite on themselves — they just want it understood.

Any help with this? I have a brother who’s a bartender and I suppose I could ask him, but I don’t want to bother him while his wife is pregnant.


Dear Sister: What does the pregnant wife have to do with anything?

If some guy ordered a “Miller” from me, I’d give him whatever Miller I had in the cooler — be it Lite, High Life, Gold or Miller Genuine Draft 64. If I had more than one kind, I’d give him a Miller Lite. You’re right that most men want the “Lite” part understood. It’s not so much that it’s not macho to be trying to lose weight and get drunk at the same time — it’s that it’s not consistent. Most guys try very hard to be consistent. It’s one of the things that separates us from you females.

Now please explain about your brother’s pregnant wife.


He Love Me, He Love Me Not

April 15, 2008

Dear Bartender: So here is my situation: Yes at the local bar where my friends and I go all of the time I have a huge crush on the bartender! I know, I know avoid at all costs! However, he happens to be friends of my friends as well so he isn’t just some random bartender.

Anyway I let him know I was interested (getting drunk and giving him my number – I know mistake number 1!). I didn’t expect anything when I woke up the next day, I even felt a little dumb about seeing him again, but now every time I come in to his bar he hugs me, usually doesn’t charge me, tells me not to tip him and sometimes when I come to the bar to order a drink he will just lean over the bar to kiss me on my cheek! Even if the bar is packed he will take time out to talk to me or if I’m leaving, to leave the bar to give me a hug goodbye! And even when the bar is packed, I will look over at him and well catch each other’s eyes.

The other night when I came in he was just managing the bar so he wasn’t technically bartending. He came over and sat with me and talked to me all night. And we talked about real substantive things – like books, religion, etc. Then my friends were going to the store and I had mentioned I needed cigarettes and he just gave them money for them and asked my friends to buy them for me (he even knew what kind I smoked). When I was leaving he tried to get me to stay but I needed to wake up for work so I left. However, he hasn’t tried calling me or even asked me out.

I dated a bartender/bar owner for a long time so I get it: you’re a bartender. Your job is to flirt with pretty girls, make them come back, buy drinks etc. Girls try to hit on you all the time. But this time I think the guy may really be into me but I don’t know how to take it outside the bar where he works. I think he just takes for granted that he will see me at the bar at least once a week! Or maybe this is just an ego thing because I made it apparent I was into him? I’m not sure – am I confusing the signs? Is he just doing what a bartender should do? When is it bartender etiquette and when does the bartender ever like the girl?

Totally confused!

Dear ‘fused: You’re confused for a very good reason: this guy is doing everything he can think of to ‘fuse you. God knows what his agenda is but he’s sure not trying to be your boyfriend. Don’t tell him I told you, though, or those free drinks will disappear quicker than you can do a shot of Key Lime Pie.

He’s playing games. It’s his job. You know this already.

And, maybe I’m being too cynical here, but… that part about not tipping? He only means for you to tip him more subtly.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not as if I or any other bartender hasn’t hit on a customer and meant it once or twice. It’s just that, when we do, you won’t have to ask if we’re serious.


Ladies Loving Ladies

January 29, 2008

Dear Bartender: What’s the current word on ladies who come into the bar, get a little drunk and start making out? They’re not lesbians, they just like to make out when they’re drinking. Is it considered dumb by the bartenders? Passe??? Is it excusable behavior? Should said ladies stay out of the bar for a while? Do bartenders always remember the silly behavior of the patrons??


PDA Problems

Dear PDA: Why do you care so much about what the bartenders think? Bartenders have more to worry about than who kisses whom after a few dozen cocktails. Frankly, when women come into my bar, I’m happy if they’re kissing and not pulling each other’s hair. I’ve seen women drunk, I know what I’m talking about.


You Can’t Go Home Again

January 9, 2008

Dear Bartender: I have recently moved back to my hometown and thought it would be good to get out and mingle. I called up a friend and we decided to go to a local bar to see if anyone we knew still worked there. The bar was under new ownership so the entire staff had changed. The place was busy for a weeknight so we sat down and I ordered my usual drink.

As the night went on my friend left me to go over to a table with some random guys and I stayed at the bar watching TV. I started asking the bouncer and bartender if they knew what had happened to the old staff, and if they still came in every so often. After we chatted for a bit him and the bartender told me they thought it was funny how I had shrugged guys off throughout the night that were trying to buy me drinks. I told them I wasn’t interested in guys buying me drinks, I was able to buy my own. I also hate when guys try to get in my space when they are drunk, its not a turn on! They found me amusing and we ended up talking for the next hour while my friend was over getting drunk with the random guys who had hit on us earlier. When I asked for the check he asked me if I would come back in some time, I told him maybe but probably not because I am not big into the bar scene.

He gave me my check and I looked up at him because I noticed he had taken off a couple of drinks, he smiled and started helping another customer. He came back over and asked me again why I would not come back in. I told him if he was that concerned about not seeing me again he should just ask me for my phone number. He got super red and the bouncer I was talking with all night started giving him a hard time. He encouraged the bartender to get my number and take me out. I told him we should all go out, it would be a good time. The bouncer suggested we meet back at the bar in a couple days and all go out from there. I told them that would be ok but I didn’t want to stay at the bar. The bouncer gave me his number and told me to call him if I couldn’t make it. I was a little unsure because the bartender was so hesitant to get my number, but agreed to meet up in a couple of days to go out.

Are they just trying to get people to come into the bar? I am up for hanging out with new people but I don’t want to show up with my friend and feel like a complete fool!

Foolishly Flirty

Dear Flirty: I’ve distilled your question down to this: A bartender bought you a couple of drinks and then acted like he didn’t want to go out on a date. Are you missing something?

Yes. He wants you to come to the bar. It’s a compliment: he wants attractive customers. But forget any designs you may have had on a relationship with him outside of the box.

The bouncer, on the other hand, is ready to rumble. If you meet up with him, pack extra condoms.



December 30, 2007

Dear Bartender: Hi there! My question is one I’m hoping you’ll have an answer to…

I’ve been singing in bars and resturants for a few months now. My first gig was at a Beer Cafe in Perth Western Australia and I met this bartender who just captured me. It could’ve been because I was in a vulnerable position, being my first gig and all, but he was so appealing to me. Yeh, I know it’s your job to be nice and I could be wrong but, I’m sure there was some flirting going on. Unfortunately, my duo got a regular spot at a different venue that offered more cash and because I’m the new kid I didn’t really get much of a choice in the matter. So, in total, we gigged at this Beer Cafe twice and at the second gig when we saw each other he winked at me and later on I noticed him standing watching me. Yes, I’m probably reading into it way too much. I suppose I felt some kind of connection, however cliché that sounds. OK, so my question is this – 1) What signs show this bartender could be interested in me? and 2) how do I make it clear to him that I’m interested enough to be asked out? I have a funny (annoying) way of ignoring the exact man I want. Could I get away with just walking in on a quiet evening and asking him out myself? Or is that a turn off? I know there would be cultural differences between you and him but there is no resource like this in Australia. Your best guess would be muchly welcomed.


-socially naïve

p.s. he is probably around the 30 yr old mark and I’m 25. :-)

Dear 25: 1) A good bartender will flirt with anyone he wants to stick around his bar. That might be because that person tips well, other customers find this person attractive, or the bartender himself finds this person attractive. A good bartender will make invisible any distinction among these three criteria. That doesn’t help much, does it?

2) You’ve probably already made it clear. He hasn’t made the first move, so you should. Asking him out on a slow night would be a mistake. Ask him out on a busy night, when there are enough distractions that he can pretend he doesn’t understand you. Bartenders often have a hard time making a clear distinction between professional friendliness and honest romantic interest. Don’t make it harder than it has to be. Meanwhile, if you want to encourage a yes, invite him somewhere specific, and where there will be other people. Invite him to a concert. Invite him to one of your shows. Invite him to an orgy.

Bartenders make great friends. Getting them to be friends on the other side of the bar will take extra patience and special attention. But it’s almost always worth it.



December 20, 2007

Dear Bartender: In many bars in the Wisconsin area (and am sure elsewhere) the last shot from the bottle is free. I asked a bartender at a local bar if they do this and he said no, but if I could come up with why this use to be done (and according to him required because of certain health risks or dangers) I could get the last shot free from now on. I was wondering if you knew the reason why this was done.

Dear Wants-a-Freebie: I’ve followed most of your question but I’m still confused: What are the health risks/danger imagined by your b’tender? You get the last shot free and the health risks are… ? It’s his job to cut you off well before one last shot sends you over the edge.

Not that his job is easy, mind you. I’ve had lots of people teetering on the edge of plastered and I’ve had to judge if the next (last) shot will send them into psychoville. I don’t always guess correctly.

That said, I’ve never heard of the practice of giving away the last shot in a bottle. If I were your barkeep I would need a damn good reason to give it to you free, but I might settle for a sexual favor, or at the very least a generous compliment. If your barkeep isn’t into that, try waving a five-spot in his face.

UPDATE 12/20: Read the comments for more (better) info. (What can I say? My research assistant is on vacation.)


Playing With Fire

December 14, 2007

Dear Bartender: My fianceé is a bartender in a local bar in her home town. She has been there for 6 years and has quite a few regulars, most of whom go there only looking to score with her.

She was married when I met her, and it hit me when I went in there one night with friends that she was quite miserable being married, only she had two kids with the guy and didn’t want to leave him if she couldn’t find anything better. So anyhow, here I come, and we immediately fall in love and are engaged a year and a half later.

She loves me going up there when she works, and I have every night since we met to help her close it up and clean up since the managers leave no one behind when she closes.

Anyhow, she is not the most beautiful woman I’ve dated, but every time I am there someone is hitting on her, and some guys do it for months at a time. I know she is working for tips, but the thought is I know she cheated on her ex so I worry she would do the same to me.

She isn’t, but I can’t help but have the jealousy feeling, and I get angry at the guys that come in there after her and tell her that one night with them and she’ll never go back. Sorry for filling your page. But what do you recommend for me to get over that jealous feeling? Anything?


Dear Will: Uh, the time to wonder if this woman is OK with being married and sleeping with her customers was when she was married and sleeping with you. That sounds harsh, but you gotta admit it’s a little late in the game to be asking that question.

I’m not saying she’ll cheat on you. There’s no way to know if any woman will treat all of her husbands the same. For all I know your jealous rages turn her on, and that’s what she was missing from every husband up till now.

Still, getting married is not unlike jumping out of a plane, with trust being the parachute. You can do it without the parachute, but perhaps it’s smarter not to jump.


Bitch Fuel

December 11, 2007

Dear Bartender: Me and a group of my girlfriends are in a belly-dance troupe that do a lot of shows at the local bars. We’re getting bored of our usual drinks and are trying to come with the perfect “belly dancer” drink/shot. Any Ideas? I’ll have the girls try it and if we like it (I am sure we will) we’ll send it into the bartenders black book with your name on it.

Even though we are performers, not all of us drink “bitch fuel.” I was thinking of something colorful and a little bracing — kind of like a red headed slut. BTW we drink the shit out of RHS. Thanks Mitchell!

– Najmis Spirit Dance Troupe in Tulsa Oklahoma

Dear Najmis: How about a Raspberry Wu-Wu — Stoli Razz, Peach Schnapps and a splash of Cranberry Juice? Bonus: if you order it nice and slow you might get kissed.

Belly Dancer


Sweet Nothings

December 8, 2007

Dear Bartender: I recently had a drink that was mixed with orange juice, grenadine, and Sprite/7-up. I am unsure of what type of alcohol was in it. I believe that was all the ingredients though. Unfortunately I do not remember the name of it – and would like to be able to order it again. Could you help me with the name?



Dear Amy: No.

There are millions of drinks out there. Most have either vodka, tequila or rum. Pick one. When you’re putting that much sugar in them, they’re pretty much all the same.


Drink up, folks

November 21, 2007

Dear Bartender: A good friend of mine is a bartender. We’ve been friends since childhood. I stood best man at his wedding. Anyway, he recently build a bar at home and fully stocked it. I would like to get him a gift, a nice bottle of whisky or brandy, but he’s got more variations than I can name. And if you haven’t guessed already I’m a novice when it comes to bartending.

Anyway, here a pic of his home bar. Do you see a worthwhile bottle that he doesn’t have? I would like to keep it under 100 bucks.



Dear Redwing: A home bar doesn’t need variety; it needs quantity. Those bottles aren’t for show, you know. Get him a bottle of whatever’s almost gone. From the pic I’d say it’s either Maker’s Mark of Johnny Walker Green. Count your blessings that he doesn’t have a near-empty bottle of Johnny Walker Blue, since you want to keep it under budget.

Then show your support by telling him every drink he makes is delicious, even if it’s with the cheap stuff. And one last part that should be easy: remember not to tip someone who serves drinks in his own home.

Now: Does anyone want to send the bartender a nice old-fashion question about a slutty priest?


Just Smile and Nod

November 18, 2007

Dear Bartender: I’ve done some research on bartending schools. I live in sacramento, and supposedly one of the better ones is ABC Bartending School. I’m thinking about becoming a bartender as a part time job. Maybe do it as I get through college. I will be going to New Zealand next year, and I think being a bartender will increase my options of getting a job.

Question: Is ABC a good school? Theres thousands of drinks, am I expected to memorize all 40,000? Do you know if New Zealand would hire an American bartender if hes just working there on a Visa for a year?


Dear Readers: I’m going to let you in on a secret: sometimes we bartenders don’t really listen to your questions. Sometimes we just answer as if we were listening, saying things like, “I’m sure she won’t hate you forever” or “Yeah, I’m a big fan, too.” Even our vast knowledge and patience are ultimately finite.

Michael: I’m sure she won’t hate you forever.


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