Every second and fourth Wednesday night of the month, legendary bartender/chef/restaurant insider Dave Mau hosts Dinner with Dave at Memphis at the Santora, where he treats drinkers to a free meal and live music as the evening progresses. To remind ustedes of this great night, Dave treats us every Wednesday morning that he's on to a random OC food or drink musing of his choice. Enjoy!
My grandfather Herman Mau had two great sayings. The first was "You speak German to your horse and French to your mistress" (he was German by the way). The other was "There are three people you keep around: a good barber, a good lawyer and a good bartender".
Herman was shop manager at the Cadillac dealership on Nob Hill in The City from the 1930s until the 1950s. He was a fine example of mid-century West Coast cocktail chic and one hell of a nice guy. He regarded bartending as a true calling and noble pursuit, one that was to be valued as much as the services of a well-heeled attorney.
Fast-forward five decades and here I am, an avid fan of both sides of the bar and a proud member of the OC cocktail brotherhood. I started bartending as a matter of necessity and, as time goes on, still do so regardless of my other pursuits. During my time in the visual effects industry and slugging it out at the tail end of the dot.com boom, I was pouring drinks and dodging punches at Linda's Doll Hut. Even when chefing at my own shops, I have always bartended because I love it so. People rarely show up at the bar to have a lousy time and once you get the screwballs figured out, bartending isn't really even work. You're getting paid (sometimes quite well) to hang out and be social.
Now, don't get me wrong: If I was slinging frozen drinks to jackasses at TGI Fridays or Joe's Crab Shack, I'd be suicidal. But the shops I've been a part of have always been independently run and had their own rules. There is no reason to put up with lousy attitudes or self-entitled clients and the exit has always been conveniently located to have either or both of them leave. Over the years I have encountered an unfortunate number of rookies who are likely unaware of Herman's vision of the profession.
A lot of people don't realize that, depending on your attitude, your bartender can make or break your night (and I've done plenty of both!) Piss him/her off, and you are likely to get a short pour, finger in your drink or much worse. Here are the top five moves that really irk that person on the other side of the bar.
1. Ask "What's Good?"
You know what's good? Booze. Booze is good. Hovering at the bar with your eyes all glazed over and drool coming out of your mouth while the bartender waits is just plain insulting. At the very least say, "I need a moment." It's common courtesy.
2. Don't Come In Waving a Recipe
Bartenders don't show up at whatever coffee joint you work at and tell you how to make lattes. Extend them the same courtesy. Aside from a few exceptions, I think most bartenders take pride in what they do for a living, and the OC craft cocktail set has created a new breed that is (sometimes irritatingly) all-too familiar with their chosen vocation. Don't hold up your smart phone with a drink recipe on the screen or bring in one of those cardboard recipe cards that slip over the neck of Parrot Bay bottles. Your barkeep may or may not be amenable to learning a new drink, but that's their call.
3. Tell the Bartender to "Make it Strong"
Ooohhh, this one's irritating. Want stiff drinks all night? Walk in, order and tip the bartender 30 bucks. I guarantee you're gonna get 60 bucks worth of booze back over the course of your evening. Or just man up and order a double in a pint glass.
4. Expect the Bartender to Always Pay for Your Drinks Because You're Pretty
This one's just for you, ladies! Don't stand there all poopy and confused when the bartender asks you to pay for your drink. Even worse is when a chick starts digging through her purse/junk drawer looking for her wallet while everyone waits. When this happens, I just throw her drink away and move on to the next person. Have your wallet out and payment ready. Please.
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5. Forget to Start a Tab
Your long-suffering bartender is a lot of things: friend, advisor, maybe even the person who is gonna get you laid that night. You know what he or she is not? An ATM machine. Using the same credit card over and over again to pay for your two-dollar Pabst Blue Ribbons is especially irritating, particularly when the joint is jumping. If you are over 21, that means you are an adult and adults open tabs. Be an adult. If you want to be regarded as visiting royalty at your favorite watering hole conduct yourself in a manner befitting such. Bartenders are neither court jesters nor hired help. There are two people in the tavern equation. They both like to be treated well.
Want more of Dave's rantings/ravings/ramblings? Check out www.dinnerwithdave.com for the latest!