Sunday
Feb172008

She Should Probably Switch To Lite Beer

There are so many things I want to say about this story, but really it just speaks for itself. Leave a comment. You tell me.

From the Associated Press via Yahoo! News and the Beaver County Times:

Pregnant Woman Accused Of Assault At Bar
ROCHESTER, Pa. - A woman who is seven months pregnant is accused of smashing a beer bottle against a bartender's head after she was refused another drink. Police said Keisharra Abercrombie, 30, assaulted the female bartender on Saturday after being told she shouldn't be drinking alcohol.

Police say Abercrombie also smashed a glass over the bartender's ear and head.

Authorities said the bartender's ear was partially detached. A surgeon in Pittsburgh used two staples and 28 stitches to reattach the top of the ear.

Abercrombie was arraigned Wednesday on charges of aggravated assault, simple assault, harassment and reckless endangerment. She was in the Beaver County Jail on $25,000 bail.

Thursday
Jan312008

What'chyou talkin' bout, Willis?

Our head chef Matt turned me on to something too good not to share. It's a list of slang commonly used in restaurants. If you've ever been in the weeds, sold a hockey puck, or needed something on the fly, you'll probably recognize half of these. If not, come learn a second language and you'll get a kick out of how we talk behind closed doors.

I've seen a couple lists that were a little more complete, but I'm posting this one cuz the fifth one down might be the funniest thing I've ever heard.

Bubble Dancer. That's priceless.

Friday
Jan252008

Tweed Jacket with Elbow Patches.

I've talked with a number of you about teaching flair class on Monday nights beginning in February. Classes WILL be taught very soon, I promise; however, with the addition of Clyde Stubblefield to Madison on Mondays for the next month while the King Club is being renovated, we are going to have to postpone things for a couple weeks. I'll see what's possible with maybe starting earlier in the night, but for now, it looks like we'll just shift things back about 4 weeks. I'm very anxious to see what kind of flair bartending we can develop in Madison, and to help train the next generation of competitive bartenders.

For those who are wondering, here's the scoop on classes:
Classes will last at least an hour each Monday night. I have written a syllabus for a five week class, though things are likely to expand from there. Class size will be limited to 10 people so we can maximize one-on-one attention. The cost is $15, bring a friend and it's only $10 each. (If you feel you didn't learn anything new, I provide a money back guarantee.) I will provide all the materials necessary during class and direct you to the right place if you want to buy practice bottles and tins of your own. We will be starting strictly with working flair - flair you can use immediately behind your bar. I like to think that any $$ you spend on classes, if followed properly, will be recouped very quickly behind your bar. In short, the classes should pay for themselves with the increased amount of tips you'll be making.

If you're interested in learning basic-to-intermediate flair bartending, post a comment on this message and leave me your phone # or email. Or email me at barspecials@gmail.com. I will make sure to contact you and get you ready to start flipping bottles and making $$$.
In the meantime, check out the Flair Bartending Association or the online Flair Bar magazine.
And don't forget, as we say in the FBA: Service first, Flair Second, Competition Always.

Sunday
Jan202008

You Bring the Noise. The Funk Is Already Here.

Thanks to Jesse for pointing out some exciting news that I was able to corroborate this weekend at work. Clyde. Stubblefield. Is. Coming. To. Madison's. I have to say it slow or my head pops off and I need a change of undies.

This may be my fifth or so posting about Clyde, and I'm not sure at what point it becomes stalking. But in a decade-long career that has had some pretty cool highlights, bartending for the Original Funky Drummer ranks right up there.

It's true: the best unadulterated fun in Madison any night of the week is moving to Madison's Downtown, my bar, this Monday, around 10 pm, and potentially for the next 6 Mondays until the King Club re-opens. Yours truly will be crafting cocktails, along with my man Matt, who normally wears the executive chef hat at Madison's, but likes to trade it for a wine key and bottle opener on Mondays.

If you're reading this today, bring the funk and I'll see you after 9 pm. Oh, and I wouldn't put words in Clyde's mouth (or anything other than a cocktail for that matter) but word has it he may have quite the eye for foxy ladies. So if you're a sexy little number or a slinky little thing (and you know who you are,) put on your funkin' shoes and come groove. And gentlemen: as in any war, to the victor go the spoils.

Monday
Jan142008

The New Phone Books Are Here!!!

It's not often I toot my own horn, what with my bad back, but it's kinda fun now and then to let someone toot it for you. Um. Yeah.

Anyway, I was checking out some other blogs last week and came across one that was particularly interesting... about me!

Check out Manifold Man's website and see why today I feel like the prettiest girl at the ball.

Saturday
Jan122008

The Grapevine Needs Weeding

About the rumor that the King Club is closing and Clyde will no longer play Monday nights - I was half right. Turns out the King Club is closing and will be re-opening around the end of February. They're undergoing a face lift, and word is they will be opening as a gay sports bar, presumably under the same ownership. Gay sports bar. Love this town. Anyway, that's what I hear....

More importantly, the Clyde Stubblefield band will still be playing Monday nights, though they will obviously be on hiatus for the next month during the renovation. So, I say again, damnit, get thee to the Stubblefield. Get your funk on this Monday at 10pm, or wait a month until you can see him next. In a gay sports bar.

I love this town.

Friday
Jan112008

I Heard It Through The Grapevine

Say it ain't so.

I've yet to confirm this 100%, but word is the King Club will be closing very soon. As in the end of the month. And while I won't shed a tear over the passing of the club itself, I just may cry myself to sleep if it means no more Monday nights with Clyde Stubblefield.

Obviously Clyde's been around long before the King Club, and if there is a god, he'll be around much longer still. But Monday nights at the Club with Clyde and his band is one of the finer institutions we have in Madison, right up there with Concerts on the Square, Farmer's Market, and smelly hippies.

If you live in Madison and haven't seen him yet, you're an ass. Plain and simple. Quit being an ass and catch one of his remaining shows.

Thursday
Jan102008

Fine Cinema

The only correlation I can make between this clip and anything to do with bartending or drinking is that maybe you've spent a slightly overhung Sunday watching an 8 hour marathon of this stuff. But I'll concede, this has absolutely nothing to do with bartending. And I don't care. Could watch this for hours. Cancel the major networks, bring back The Chimp Channel, and give me MXC 24/7.

Tuesday
Jan082008

Icon/Frida's Christmas Party

And to think, I almost didn't pick up the shift.

Tonight, we hosted the staff Christmas party for Frida's, a popular State Street restaurant and bar, and the newly opened - and very well-received - The Icon.

Usually, I know ahead of time exactly what to expect working a party for restaurant/bar people. I know it'll be good money, cuz no one tips as well as industry people. But it can be a beating. As a whole, they can be some of the most demanding customers. Makes sense: when you work around a bar full of booze, you find exactly what you like, exactly the way you like it. Also, when you spend your days and nights catering to the needs of others, you get a little rambunctious when the tables are turned, literally. Not to mention, bar staff like to get obnoxiously drunk (it's a professional courtesy.)

But I must say, I haven't had so much fun working in a long time, let alone on Monday night. This staff was all the goodness with none of the baggage. I mentioned in a previous post about Getting the Bartender's Attention that showing the bartender you "get it" is key. And the people at Icon/Frida's definitely get it. They were fun, drank a lot, tipped early and often, and were so appreciative of good service, it made me want to work harder to show them I appreciated it right back.

If you live in Madison, do yourself a favor and checkout The Icon on State Street. I've yet to hear a single bad word about the place. Which says something, if you consider what I do for a living. I've been there for drinks and was impressed by the variety (got to be the only bar to carry Johnnie Gold, which is a steal compared to Johnny Blue.) And I'm anxious to take a special someone there soon to enjoy a number of their tapas.

Special thanks to the inimitable Moe, owner/operator and host of the party, for his generosity and good humor. It's gratifying to see the boss taking such good care of the people who work for him, and having so much fun doing it. Also, thanks to Victorio, Chris, Josh, Willy, Brook the DJ, and a few others of you whose names I forget, but whose faces, and drinks, I won't. You guys were a trip and you're welcome at my bar anytime. I hope to be a guest at yours soon. Oh, and classes will kick up around the end of January. Monday nights definitely. Drop a comment on this post and leave your email if you're interested. This will be the year you flip bottles.

Monday
Jan072008

Happy New Year

 

Here's hoping that you all rang in the new year in proper style, hopefully with good friends and good times, and unequivocally with champagne and a midnight kiss. I was lucky enough to have all four... and I was on the clock.

 

New Year's to a bartender is like the Fourth of July to a fireworks maker. It's insanely busy, a lot of hype, a lot of work, and a lot of pressure, but you wouldn't have it any other way. Thanks to everyone who came out to Madison's to celebrate with us. We had a great crowd on NYE, though my judgment may have been a little flavored by the champagne we were all drinking.

One of the quirky perks about Madison that many of you, my friends and readers who don't live in Madison (that means you, Nick in the Netherlands)... one of the many fine oddities that makes this city funky is the suspension of bar time on New Year's Eve. It may not seem that exciting to you who live in Chicago, NYC, or abroad, where bar time is so late it's early. But when 364 days a year the doors are locked by 2am, it's all the more cause for celebration on this special day. Bars can stay open, and many do, well past sun-up.

 

Thankfully, the crowd at Madison's thinned out after 3 and we closed shop around 4 am. The Angelic was hosting a Bartender's Bash from 4am-8am, an industry only party specifically for bar staff who worked NYE. It was nice to go from working a room full of drunk patrons to enjoying a room full of drunk bartenders. And The Angelic was even kind enough to send a limo. Kudos to Red Bull for sponsoring the event, though somehow even the 5 Red Bulls I pocketed wouldn't have been enough to keep me awake after 7am even if I were sober enough to open them.

 

That's all for now, but I've got some exciting things planned for the new year, including more drinks, more tall tales, more funny clips, more guest writers, and few other tricks up my sleeve (heard any good dirty jokes lately?? You will....)

Sunday
Dec302007

We're Kind of a Big Deal

I'm delighted to share some good news with everybody: Madison's Downtown, the fine establishment I've been working in for the last year and a half, was voted "Best Place to See and Be Seen" in a poll conducted by Madison Dining Online. My co-worker Brant thinks it's because he works there, but he's been there 3 years and this is the first year we've won (coincidentally, this is my first full year...)

So, it's kinda cool to be recognized, particularly amidst such fine company. And I especially dig the fact that we're not only the best place to be seen, but we are also the best place to see. Apparently we improve your vision.

Friday
Dec282007

Jim Breuer

I have to thank my dad for sending me this one. Jim Breuer speaks the truth about what happens when you change up your drinks throughout the night.

Tuesday
Dec252007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, my favorite patrons!!

(It's time to get your New Year's Plans in order.)

Monday
Dec102007

Flair Video

After Joey's post last week I thought I would add a little video taken of me flairing at Kahunaville, courtesy of Kevron.

Wednesday
Dec052007

Prohibition Party

In case you're not up to date on your knowledge of the United States Constitution, today marks the 74th anniversary of the ratification of the 21st Amendment. Why does that matter? Because it was the repeal of Prohibition!

Tonight's the night to celebrate your constitutional right. Find a speakeasy (any bar without a DJ and 10 plasma TVs will do) and order the drinks your grandparents drank. No flavored vodkas tonight, no lite beer, and god forbid anything made with peach schnapps. The bartender has the legal right to throw you out on the street if you order a martini that is anything other than 3 parts gin, 1 part vermouth. Pay respect to those who broke the law before you and order a Rusty Nail, Rob Roy, Stinger, Godfather, or a Manhattan. Or try 2 fingers of scotch. No ice.

Whiskey. Bourbon. Scotch. And Gin. Those are your food groups, you crazy kids. Enjoy.

Tuesday
Dec042007

Welcome Guest: Joey Stepp

Please welcome today's guest Joey Stepp, an accomplished magician and consummate bartender all the way from West Virginia. I met Joey at a flair bartending competition in Ohio last year. And after the competition was over, he punished me for beating him by drowning me in a sea of Jagerbombs. To make up for it, he's offered to share some insight here about how to make more $$$ as a bartender and how to incorporate flair. My favorite part is where he shares the bits of wisdom he's learned from a stripper....

Flair Bartending: More than just flipping bottles. A small amount of bottle flipping - a large amount of making money!!!

First, let me say thanks to Chris for asking me to write a post. Thanks for causing me to stay up late for days typing and typing only to save it and start another blog. Because I don’t know what I want to share with everyone. But its time and I think I got it!!!

Anyone reading this message – what is flair bartending to you? To some that don’t have a clue it’s Tom Cruise in Cocktail, others it may be the guy in Vegas that wowed you by flipping bottles. The insecure muscle-heads that are scared because their girl won’t quit smiling at us may think we are some cocky idiots that can juggle bottles. I got news for all of you - that is not it at all!

Flair Bartending to me is almost like a hustle. I am behind the wood to do whatever it takes to make the guest give me money. Money not only for the drink that will be absolutely amazing - because before I can even consider flairing I have to be a well-trained bartender = but money for me to put in my tip jar because they have no choice. No choice because I as a bartender just did something that made their mouth drop. This could be anything. Taking anything to the extreme: I could make their drink like the average bartender but end it with a back flip. At first you think, WTF a back flip?? What if that back flip causes the jaw of the guest to drop to the floor, what if it causes his hand to go into his wallet for a five. Now it's not so off the wall crazy. Now we are talking dollars signs.

I am making a bold statement that many people in the Flair Bartending world would disagree with, but I truly believe and have had this conversation with many people in the flair world. We are behind the wood for several reasons: 1) We can talk about how we like to be a people person and love to meet new people, 2) We can talk about how the entertainment value surpasses all the other reasons, or 3) We can get down and dirty and say, I love my job because I am having a good time, smiling, making other people smile and I make more money doing this than I would working 9-5. Whatever your reason is, if you work for tips, it wouldn't hurt to learn how to make a few extra dollars. As I said before, if you’re a bartender that doesn’t want to flip bottles you can still learn some Flair.

I need everyone to think about the last time you were at a strip club. How much money did you give the girls? If you’re anything like me, I give tons, to the sexy ones, the ugly ones. I really enjoy my time at a strip club. But why? Why can guys and girls sit at a stage and be entertained by a woman who takes her clothes off? What makes us give her our money? For me I think I get hypnotized into giving them all my money. At least that’s what I try to explain to my wife. But for real, how does a very sexy girl go on stage and take off her clothes and make a thousand dollars a night?

When I first decided to make bartending my career I went to a strip club. I watched these girls on stage and off stage. I found the one that I thought was making the most money and we made friends. Yeah, I bought her a sixty dollar drink for her to sit with me for about an hour. But I was on a mission: to learn how she gets all the money. What is this girl's Flair? I should charge every bartender ten dollars for the information that I am about to share, but because its such a simple concept and I try to help everyone pay an extra bill, here it is.

She explained to me that on stage there are two poles. One on the front of the stage and one in the back. Her job is to dance around the stage for all the people sitting at the bar. That keeps the owner happy because it keeps the customers happy. She said that if someone is sitting on the back side of the stage tipping her fives, that when she goes to the front of the stage to dance for the others that may only be giving her ones, she makes a point to look over her shoulder at the group that is tipping her fives. Think about it…..

While she is performing for a group of people she is looking down stage at the man that is giving her more money. Kind of saying, “hey I know I’m down here but I’m still thinking about you.” She went on to say while she is working the floor she will walk by and give the guy a wink, anything to get him thinking about her.

Transfer this to the bar. Take a guy bartender who can flip some bottles. There’s a girl that is tipping him 100 percent on every round. While he is flipping bottles for a group of people, what would it hurt for him to look over his should and give a wink, or a look at the lady at the end of the bar. Even if I’m working and a man is at the bar and over tipping just because he enjoys the show, if I’m doing something for a group of people I may wait until I get his attention to start, or I may give him a high five, thumbs ups, throw a lime at his feet. Anything to express gratitude towards him. All of this is considered Non-Verbal Communication, and it pays off. (Another tidbit about me, this is my last semester until I receive a Masters Degree in School Counseling, even with this Masters I want to continue bartending until I work in a tourist city. I would be lying if having this training in Counseling hasn’t helped me make more money.)

Another non-flipping move I would suggest is High Fives. Call me crazy but I have found that for some reason people love a random high five. Try it at work - of course please don’t do this if you are at a lounge where you are in dress clothes and the people are in the middle of a meal. But at the local sports pub or dance club do something random and give high fives. You will find that once trained for this type of behavior from you they will expect it and most importantly enjoy it. Being a flair bartender, and one that performs magic, its always fun to make something disappear, then go down the bar slapping hands. One suggestion, if you put your hand up and the really pretty girl acts like she’s too good to slap your hand leave it there, it will happen and she will smile like no other… This came from an article I read along time ago, wish I could site it but I have no idea. It talked about how malls and other business are trying to find more ways to get people to feel comfortable with the sales persons because then once they feel comfortable and are happier they are more likely to spend more money. This is exactly what I am trying to create: happy people, comfortable with me, buying good drinks and paying me for making them….

I am going to leave you with this: if this is something you are serious about, then be serious about it. Learn a new way to make more money as often as you can. The service industry can be very good to you if you learn all you can about it. Pick up books, read online and talk to others about better ways to serve people. This is easy money if done right. Real quick ,some of my hustles, aka “things I do, to get people to give me money” include: making a napkin rose, balloon animals, tons of magic tricks (a great way to make money while no one is drinking), winking, high fives, listening, talking, entertaining, taking pictures (randomly pick up a persons camera and get everyone together for a group shot - (sometimes I take pics of myself, just for a laugh,) drop a tin or bottle on purpose just to get a reaction out of someone (its like NASCAR, some watch just for the crashes.) The list could go on forever.

If you would like to hear ways to incorporate flair into your work, or more ways to hustle the extra money, email me anytime.☺

Joey_stepp@yahoo.com

Friday
Nov302007

Double Espresso White Russian

Props go out to my friend Katy for introducing me to this one. It's a new twist on a simple classic - the White Russian. Maybe you've enjoyed White Russians in the past and, perchance, even upgraded to the Colorado Bulldog or a vanilla White Russian, but it's time to realize this drink's full potential. The recipe is the same except for the substitution of Van Gogh Double Espresso in place of run-o-the-mill vodka:

1 1/2 oz. Van Gogh Double Espresso
3/4 oz. Kahlua
1/2 oz. cream
Pour ingredients over ice in a tub. Mix. Enjoy. Rinse. Repeat.

Not every bar has Van Gogh Double Espresso, so this is a drink to enjoy in a finer establishment or at your home bar.

Thursday
Nov292007

My Interview Got 86'd: Part Two

What is the employment outlook for Bartenders these days? Good? Bad? Why? How does one find work?

As far as I know, bar business has only been improving since the days of Prohibition. The economy doesn't affect a bartender as much as other workers. When times are good, people drink to celebrate; when times are bad, people drink to mourn. The restaurant/bar industry is the 2nd largest employer in the U.S., second only to the government, with a projected 1 million establishments within the decade.

As bars grow and expand there will be much opportunity at the entry-level. However, it also means that things are more competitive on the high-end. Bars, as well as bartenders, find themselves needing to do more to distinguish themselves from everyone else in their field. Flair bartending, a style of bartending that incorporates throws, catches, dance, and juggling, is just one niche that has evolved to compete in an ever-competitive market.

Also, since bartending is generally seen as a low-skilled trade requiring little or no education, there are fewer barriers to entry. Competition at the entry-level of the market can be excessive, especially in a slow economy as workers look to supplement a full-time income with a part-time job bartending.

What factors can affect the salary of a Bartender? Is it all tips and a base wage? Sports bars vs hotels bars etc...

Many things affect the salary of a bartender. In my career, I've made a wage as little as $3/hour plus tips and as much as $12/hour plus tips. Bartenders truly depend on tips. Oftentimes my paychecks are $0 after taxes, so whatever I've brought home at the end of the night is ultimately my take-home pay.

It's a common notion that high-end, fancy, or exclusive establishments provide the best opportunity for a bartender to make money. While that may be true for a few places, I'll take a busy bar over a five star establishment any day of the week, twice on Sunday. Bartending is a sales job, and good commission is better dependent on volume rather than a few expensive sales. Busy is key.

I don't have a source to site this, but I've heard a few times that when the Green Bay Packers win, the bartenders/servers in Green Bay make about 30-50% more than if they lose. Makes sense, people celebrating are more generous with their tips. On occasion, the money you make has little to do with you or your work, but rather right-place right-time situations. When I lived in Las Vegas, I discovered it was custom in local establishments for the video poker players to tip the bartender 10% of their winnings – after all, drinks are free. A bartender friend of mine would make $150 one night and $1500 the next. Those kind of instances aside, there's something to be said about building a following and creating a rapport with your patron base that will definitely increase your income. Also, bars have their own vibe or personality. Find a bar that fits your personality and you will optimize your income.

Can you recall any humorous or memorable moments as a Bartender?

Sure. Almost every week has something funny or memorable. The excitement and lack of routine is one of the reasons I've stayed with the profession so long. During three years at the Comedy Club on State, I met Pauly Shore, Louie Anderson, Tommy Chong, and hundreds of lesser-known but insanely funny comedians. Last weekend, I chatted with the actress Juliette Lewis for a second while she was locked out of the venue where her band was playing. Once, at a horse track, I got to serve my childhood baseball hero from the MN Twins, Kirby Puckett. He was a great tipper – though it might've had something to do with management comping his $100 tab.

Generally, however, the most hysterical and memorable moments have nothing to do with anyone famous, just the usual patrons in the bar. Watching people for ten hours a night, four nights a week for a decade – especially people who have been socially lubricated by alcohol - is a study in human behavior and psychology. I've seen people at their best and worst. I've been tipped in drugs (no thanks) and tipped in women's underwear (thank you!) I've been sucker-punched in the face for simply doing my job. However, the truly worthwhile and memorable moments usually have to do with coworkers. Meeting and working with people from all over the world, at all ends of the age spectrum, from all different backgrounds, has been one of the more profound and rewarding experiences of my lifetime.

I've been fortunate enough to compete in bartending competitions, from Minneapolis to Cleveland to Windsor, Canada. I've met and competed with some of the best bartenders from around the world – Rodrigo Delpech, Ati Tedesco, Martin Janica, Rodrigo Cao. And I've found the ones at the top of their profession are some of the warmest and most welcoming people in the world. A career spent catering to others' needs will do that.


Wednesday
Nov282007

My Interview Got 86'd: Part One

So just before Thanksgiving I got an exciting email from an editor of another website. It's a website about careers and he wanted to email-interview me about bartending. I gladly said yes, in an attempt to spread the word a lil' bit about this website. So last week, in lieu of posting here for you, my faithful and beloved patrons, I spent a few too many hours filling out his interview... only to find out someone else beat me to it. Turns out he sent a request to a number of online bartenders and posted the first one he got back. What an ass. Anyway, karma's got a bite and I'm content to know that some bartender some where is making him wait 10 minutes for his Cosmo just because he's got a funny feeling about this guy.

So as to make the effort not in vain, I figured I'd share the interview here with you guys, in two installments. Next Monday, I'm looking forward to a post from my friend and flair bartender Joey Stepp. Joey is a performer and professional barman of the truest sense from West Virginia who will share some insight on flair bartending. That'll be Monday. And now, for my brilliant interview...

Can you describe IN DETAIL your career path in becoming a Bartender? Training?

I thought being a bartender on a cruise ship would be a great way to spend the summer after my freshman year of college. I enrolled for a two-week class at the Minnesota School of Bartending, and even though I never ended up on a cruise ship, I landed my first job bartending at a country club. From there, a job bartending was always a nice supplement while I was in college studying for an English degree. For the first five years after graduation I generally had a day job while bartending on the side a couple nights a week. Eventually, I realized that my bartending job was what had been sustaining me, both financially and personally.

I've gained valuable training in almost every establishment that I have worked at, though the best experiences are the ones where you are a part of the opening staff of a brand new bar. One restaurant I opened focused heavily on scotch and wine and provided me with extensive training in fine dining service, as well as an education in scotch and wine. The last establishment I opened and worked for two years in was a flair bar, where entertainment is the focus of service. I was paid to learn flair bartending from some of the best flair bartenders in the world. Other than that, training is an ongoing process: reading industry magazines, attending conventions, participating in local promotions and tastings, and sharing stories with other bartenders.

What advice would you give to those seeking a career as a Bartender? Do you recommend the bartending schools or should someone learn on the job?

Having graduated from a bartending school myself, I won't slight the work they do. Bartending schools are effective at teaching things like basic mixology and mechanics such as freepour. The irony is that you can generally learn in your first three days on the job most everything you learned in a couple weeks at school. However, the best thing about a bartending school is that they will usually help you land your first job, which can be no small task in a competitive market.

If bartending is something you really want to do, be willing to start at the bottom. That means a few different things. At busy establishments, be willing to work as a bouncer or a busser; many bars only promote bartenders from within their current staff. Otherwise, be willing to work a year or two at a less popular joint like a bowling alley or a small pub. And be willing to work the slow shifts: usually daytime or Monday/Tuesday nights.

Bartenders at great establishments can make $40-80,000 working four nights a week - I've met flair bartenders in Las Vegas whose salary is well into six figures. But they've paid their dues. Jobs like that take years of experience to get into. The top earners in any field usually have the resume to justify it.

Go to Part Two:

Thursday
Nov152007

How to Get the Bartender's Attention

It's the weekend again and it's time to prep you for an all-too-common-but-easily-avoidable situation: getting the bartender's attention in a busy nightclub. It's almost a cliche, standing in a busy bar, waiting for drinks, and wondering what the hell you have to do to get some service around here. The sad part is that it's actually really easy if you know what you're doing.

First and foremost, in a busy bar, belly up to the bar. I mean it. If your belly isn't touching the bar, if you're standing behind people at the bar, don't be surprised if you're waiting 20 minutes for a drink. Every night some joker waves his hands like he's drowning and tries to order from 5 feet away from the bar. And once a night I actually serve him and immediately remember why it's a bad idea. First of all, the volume of a busy bar precludes anyone from hearing what sweet nothings are being whispered from 5 feet away. And more importantly, once I finally understand the drink order, make the drinks, and set them on the bar, I spend twice as long trying to get this yokel's attention so he can pay for the drinks - apparently the blonde he's failing to impress with his extensive knowledge of bottled water is losing interest and he's too busy spitting pathetic game to pay for his drinks. And even though I know he's waited precious minutes for me to get his drinks, making me wait is the kiss of death. If I have to wait for you, that means everyone behind you has to wait for you. And time, for a bartender, truly, is money. I make $$$ based directly on how many people I serve in a night - and if someone drags that process to a screeching halt, they'll be waiting much longer the rest of the night.

The ideal guest - the one bartenders love and will skip other people to serve time and again - is the one who quietly approaches the bar, money in hand, calmly waits their turn, and knows what drinks they want to order. It's that simple.

Let's hammer home some of these points because they are truly invaluable when it comes to getting good service.

Do's:
Approach the bar with $$ in hand and place your paw on the bar. Busy bartenders may avoid eye contact because people presume it means they're next in line, but we always notice money on the bar. If you're hand is attached to that money, I'm coming your way next.

Tip well early. Such a simple concept - GUARANTEED to work 99% of the time, but so rarely employed. Here's how it works: tip $10 on your first drink. Sound foolish? Try it and let me know what happened. We're legalized drug dealers - we're not above being bought. In fact we prefer it. Someone who tips $5-10 on their first round tells me they "get it." The next time they approach the bar, I'm going to skip 5 people to get their drink first. And I'm more likely to overpour them and probably send some shots their way. I know our culture dictates that you tip your server 15-20% AFTER your meal is over but imagine what would happen if you tipped 30% BEFORE you were served. You'd get hooked up, that's what. Whether that means free product, phenomenal service, or directions to the after party - depends on the bar. But unless the bartender is a total noob, I guarantee special treatment. And special treatment is currency that goes a long way in a nightclub...

Decide what drinks you want before you approach the bar. Ten times a night I approach someone with a smile and a "What'll you have?" and they immediately turn around to poll the group on what they want. They turn around. I move on.

Dont's:
Shout out your order when not asked for it. I'm busy trying to remember the 5 drinks ordered from the morally casual blonde in front of you and shouting out your drinks only screws up my drug-addled brain. How would you like it if people ran past your cubicle while you were typing and shouted non sequiturs at you?

Wave your hands in the air. Trust me, we see you. Waving only makes you look desperate. And desperation is not a good cologne to wear in a bar.

Whistle or yell. I know bartenders who've cut people off, not because they were drunk, but because they kept whistling all night. Save the whistling for the women who won't go home with you.

One-at-a-time me. Any decent bartender can remember 6-10 drinks at a time. Ordering them one at a time turns a 2 minute process into 10. And that costs me $$, not to mention annoys the 5 people next to you ready to order.

All in all, it's not rocket science. It's about speed and money. Be quick, tip well, and you can bet I'll see you at the after party.