Everything I Know . . .

. . . I Learned From Working in a Bar


Confidence is 90 percent of everything. This is related to my first point. As long as you look like you know what you're doing and keep the broken glasses to a minimum, you can get away with just about anything behind the bar.

Everybody has a story. And lots of them are drop-dead gorgeous, if a bit long-winded. There are regulars in my bar who have endured quadruple bypass surgeries, the heartbreaking loss of loved ones, cancer, ferocious child-custody battles, jail, divorce and even marriage. The clientele includes city officials, attorneys who routinely argue multimillion-dollar cases, borderline homeless types, housewives and homewreckers, drunks and coeds. They all have a story—some more interesting than others, but almost all of them somehow worth hearing. Just like in the movies, the guy behind the bar ends up functioning sort of like a priest in a confessional. People will tell you their stories—even stories where they acknowledge they've fucked up—and you must listen with absolutely no judgment. These people usually feel bad enough about what they've done and what's happened to them. How do I know? They're in a bar.

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You don't meet nice girls in cocktail bars.

You shouldn't lie to bartenders. If you order a drink, then come back and say someone else picked it up, or try to short-change the bartender, or do anything else to deceive us, you most likely will get another drink and you may get your "proper" change. But every eye behind that bar will be on you the rest of the night. So you better be 100 percent sure you're not trying to put something over on the person serving your drink or taking your money. We have friends. They're called "bouncers."

Fruit is good for you. Toss a cherry into just about any drink that a woman orders, and she's going to light up. Unless she's a bitch. And then you just try to hit on her. Larry, our resident flair bartender—think Tom Cruise flipping bottles in Cocktail—does this thing with a banana and chocolate syrup. Personally, I think it's a bit Brokeback, but the ladies eat it up.

Don't yell at the bartender. Or whistle. Or snap your fingers, clap your hands, say "Hey, you!" or otherwise try to get a bartender's attention in any way whatsoever. Here's a secret: we're bartenders. We're tending the bar. And even though we may look stupid, slow and overworked, we're keeping track—i.e., tending the bar—and every jackass who tries to mess with our system messes with our work. Yell at us, and you will get served . . . after every other person gets served . . . after every piece of stemware gets polished . . . after every beer in the cooler gets stocked . . . after every lemon and lime is cut . . . after every straw is removed from its caddy and individually shined . . . and re-shined.

Don't forget this.Drinking beyond your saturation point does not make you any more eloquent, charming, attractive, funny or interesting. It does, however, make every person of the opposite sex—and sometimes even the same sex—more eloquent, charming, attractive, funny or interesting.

 
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