If you have ever been to a restaurant during happy hour or spent any amount of time sitting around a bar, you start to realize the person pouring your drinks is more than just a living encyclopedia of the elixirs. Tending a bar is a profession that comes with many challenges that you won’t find with a typical 9-5 job. For those who can handle the strange work hours, fast paced environment, and the countless number of people who insist on misbehaving, the payoff can be enormous.
A good bartender’s main interests are your overall satisfaction and current state of liquidity. A great bartender will always remember you’re the one who took the time to come and who will be spending hard-earned money to drink there. With great dedication some of the best bartenders are able reach the highest level of their craft and earn the title of Mixologist. Studying and understanding flavor profiles and knowing exactly how to balance or enhance the essence of a drink is only half of the game. You need a great personality, lots of charisma, a unique flare, and a boat load of patience.
For some unlucky bartenders locked into low paying jobs in smaller cities bartending provides the means to survive. The few willing enough to turn their passion into serious profit will have to make the greatest sacrifices to become the best. Whether you are earning top dollar as a bartender in the hottest club or just making ends meet by working in a dive bar. All bartenders share one common denominator; they all possess the best secrets. If you want to know what’s happening in and around town go down to your local watering hole and have a long chat with your friendly bartender.
We sat down with five bartenders from Las Vegas and gave them the opportunity to tell their stories from behind the bar. According to our five bartender friends these are the Bartenders Best Kept Secrets.
I can hear you.
Just because the bartender isn’t looking at you doesn’t mean they can’t hear you. Back in the day bartenders were the guardians of society’s closely guarded secrets. Bartenders use their side work to get close enough to listen in on the conversation. Having the ability to go undetected while listening to people confess their inner most secrets are skills reserved for government spies and bartenders. Government plots or not, they eavesdrop on all the gossip.
Now you’re talking my language.
Bartenders have their own lingo and sometimes use codes when talking with other bartenders. The information they are relaying could be about your drink or more often its specific details about the person at the end of the bar. Give the bartender a hard time and the rest of the employees will know about it within a minute or two.
Just say no to the garnish.
Yes, your garnishes are handled a few times before it reaches your drink but that’s not the worst part. A lot of times the bartender’s garnish tray becomes an employee snack dispenser. Everyone knows that you are not supposed to stick your hands in the garnish tray but you can’t just let those yummy orange slices go to waste! After the staff has finished picking at the garnishes the tray might sit out on the bar all night long.
Don’t judge me.
From the moment you sit down at a bar you are being sized up by the bartender. The bartender’s greeting is usually standard but friendly as they are trying to figure out where you will fit in with the rest of customers at the bar. Ultimately, you will be judged based on what you order and the way you order it. If you order a pitcher of beer with one glass and a shot of whiskey after a while it may seem like the bartender is intentionally trying to avoiding you. However, if you sit down, order a decent cocktail, and ask for the dinner menu the bartender is going to take care of you for the rest of the night.
Mixed up batches.
The menu description reads: Hand-made Bloody Mary. The bartender salts the rim of the glass, adds ice, vodka, and mix from a large plastic container. Whoa! What’s so “hand-made” about that? To save time during the busier periods bartenders will make large hand-made batches of mixes for the most popular drinks. There are a lot of mixes used behind the bar but not just because mixes are convenient when trying to make a drink as fast as possible. The use of mixes creates a more consistent drink, consistent color, and gives the bartender more control over the flavor and balance of the drink.
No more mint…..for you!
If someone orders a $14 Grey Goose martini with an extra splash of Vermouth and garnished with three bacon, blue cheese stuffed olives (that were stuffed by bartender) and only tips $1. Don’t be surprised if the bar suddenly runs out of stuff to make that same drink. If perhaps, you hear the bartender say they ran out of mint after someone orders a mojito don’t ask, “How is it possible for a restaurant to run out of mint?” The real answer is there is plenty of mint it’s just that nobody wants to make the mojito for $1 tip.
Make it strong one.
When a customer asks for a single shot drink to be made stronger bartenders will automatically suggest a double shot drink. When a customer sends a drink back because it is too weak it is almost guaranteed that every additional drink that customer orders will have a straw full of alcohol. The customer wants a strong drink and on the first sip through the straw they get a mouth full of alcohol. Unless you’re at a bar using some high-tech robotic alcohol measurement system most bartenders pour drinks a little on the strong side anyway.
Membership has its privileges.
It’s a fact that regular customer do get treated better. Why? They are at the bar more often drinking, tipping, and talking to the other regulars. Bartenders depend on their regulars to come in every week to catch up, have something to eat, and a few drinks as well. As a gesture of gratitude a lot of bartenders will buy their regulars drinks or food from time to time. The best part about being a regular is that it is easy to become one. Just show up to the bar 2-3 times per month, have something to eat, have a few drinks and talk politely with others around you. Boom, you’re in the club it’s that easy.
Hot or not?
(This one pertains mostly to the female bartenders since the guys didn’t seem to have any issues with getting hit on by female customers. Duh?) The bartender is selling alcohol and not sex. The situation seems all too perfectly clear and convenient after several drinks. That is the moment some men realize the hottie serving them drinks for the past three hours actually wants to take them home (well, not really). The bartenders are there essential to get you drunk but they are not necessarily doing so because they think that you’re hot. If you want the female bartenders to remember your name use a little charm, tip well, and don’t call them “honey” or “sweetie”. Stop tipping and the relationship is over immediately!
Pick me! Pick me!
Money wavers, screamers, whistlers, pointers, and especially finger snappers get served last. Bartenders know how to humble someone that walks up to the bar demanding service before anyone else. Bartenders will deliberately serve everyone at the bar before they come back to the customer that is causing a scene while trying to order a drink. Not only will it stop a person from doing the same thing again it also deters anyone else from trying it.
Thousands of bartenders are out there waiting for someone to walk in and order a warm meal and a few cold beverages. Over the years, a bartender’s job has not change all that much. They are still and will always be the curators of those special places where society goes to unwind. Today’s bar patrons have evolved and are unwinding at an alarming rate. Endless drunken images are uploaded to the internet every second, taking up countless amounts of megabytes, and clogging up the internet. But we are all guilty! Even grandma has an uploaded image of her with a drink in hand and she doesn’t even own a computer. Is this misuse of this modern technology or is there something else to the gratuitous sharing of digital proof that we drink way too much? It all traces back to one source. The moment you lost your inhibitions…..there was a bartender present.