Category Archives: Bar Story

The Bartender’s Handshake

I’m sitting at the hotel bar, chatting up the bartender, he says, you want a shot?  I say, sure, he gets out a bottle, pours a shot in a rocks glass, one for me, one for him, we clink glasses, I shoot it, and it’s just TERRIBLE.  What the F was that?  He responds with a grin.  That’s the Bartender’s Handshake.  Fernet Branca.  Neat.

There’s a new bar in town called…Bartender’s Handshake.  I checked it out last night, and of course, it was packed.  Minimal seating at the bar, and at the tables.  For the five minutes I was there, I thought it had a really good vibe.  Sorry, I’m an old man.  To keep me there, I need a chair.  But my old pal Liz Bertolette was there taking orders, and she’s the type of hot/smart gal you want working for you.  Word has it that a bartender owns the bar, I’m sure they have a lot of tasty cocktails on the menu, and it’s a place where you call the bartender a mixologist whether you like it or not.  And that’s a compliment.  Gone are the days like myself that the bartender just pours jack and cokes and gin and tonics.  You gotta KNOW YOUR SHIT NOW.  What tastes good with what.  But getting back, next time you’re in the bar, ask Liz for the bartender’s handshake, and don’t make a face when you drink it down.  See it as entree to a special club.

-Clint

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Study A Broad

End of night, I’m behind the bar with my manager, I’ve got three flight attendants, and a pilot, sitting at my bar, having a late dinner, with some cocktails.  I’ve been listening into their conversation periodically, interjecting into it from time-to-time.  One of the ladies say, I had a fight with my husband the other day…it was really stupid.  I say, you know, nobody ever says I had a fight with my husband and it was really smart.  They laugh.

As I’m gathering my garbage, one of the flight attendants, mid-bite into her dessert, says, the last time I had Crème Brûlée, I was in Paris, and I didn’t like it.  This is really good though.  I say, you were in Paris and had Crème Brûlée?  She says, yeah.  I was studying abroad in Paris for a year in college.

And I’m like, I like to study a BROAD, if you know what I mean?!?!

They all laugh, my manager yells sternly, CLINT!  GO TAKE OUT THE GARBAGE!!!

-Clint

 

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Tex

I’m working the hotel bar, it’s around 6, older man with plastic white cowboy hat, white suit coat, and blue tie comes in, sits down.  He’s got a drink already from the free bar, and a large to-go carton, with God knows what in it.  He sits down at the end of the bar, and gruffly says, “What’s the football game on now?”  I say, “Clemson.”  He says, “Can you turn up the volume?”  I say, “Sure.”

I turn up the volume, go back to being bored.  When the free bar is open from 5:30-7:30, nobody is drinking at my bar, as you can imagine.  So it can get really slow.  

I spend my time observing this odd gentleman.

He gets on his flip-phone, starts having a lonnnng conversation.  I hear bits and pieces.  He talks a lot about the St. James Bible.  “Yes, you need to look it up in the St. James Bible!”  He’s got a glasses case in front of him, that says, “Johnny Cash” in a Sharpie scrawl.  Why it says Johnny Cash, I can only guess.

After about 45 minutes on the phone, he gets up, leaves for the bathroom.  

My manager comes out of nowhere.  “Just a heads up…there will be two cops coming in soon to have a conversation with Tex.  I guess he was bothering some of the guests, and they complained.  They checked on him, and I guess he has a bunch of warrants out for his arrest.”

Nice!  Things just got interesting.

After a couple minutes, I see the two cops roll in.  One of them is Asian, one is a white guy.  They look official.  They got the cop swagger.

Tex walks back a minute later, unaware of what’s about to go down.

Asian cop says, “Hey, sir, can we have a word?”

He stops, stands at the host stand, confidently.  He looks about 70, with obviously colored dark black hair.  This guy is a character.

I can’t hear what the cops say, but Tex starts going into a huge monologue.  I hear, “I’ve got 50 dollars in my wallet RIGHT NOW.  I was supposed to get a discount from my friend Carl.”

So…not actually a guest at the hotel.  Interesting.  Snuck in for the free drinks and food.  Bold.

I look over at where he was sitting.  He’s got a bunch of crap there.  His white plastic hat sits there lonely.

White cop, who’s been holding back, approaches Tex, says, “Could I see your I.D.?”

Tex fishes it out of his thick, warn wallet, hands it to him.

Asian cops says, “So…are you living here now?”

He takes a long pause, then says, “Yeah.  I am now!”

White cop comes back with I.D., says politely, “Do you mind if we walk you to the front?”

Tex says, “Yeah.  I just need to get my stuff.”

He walks back to the bar, says to me, “You mind if I leave some of this here?”

I say, knowing the inside scoop, “You should probably take it with you.”

He grabs his stuff, his plastic cowboy hat, his ragged bag, walks out, leaving the to-go container behind.

It’s quiet for a moment, everybody’s gone, I grab the to-go container, look in.  It’s a disgusting smorgasbord of finger foods, and appetizers.  But it looks like he shook the whole thing, so it looks like something you’d feed to a pig.

I toss the thing, the guy’s not coming back.  I resume my position at the bar, glance up to the TV, vaguely interested in the score of the game.

-Clint

 

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How To Make A Raspberry Lemon Drop Martini

Lemon Drop Martinis are becoming increasingly more and more popular.  It’s a decent, girly-manly drink.  It’s sweet, but it can be strong.  I’ve somewhat perfected my recipe, and it goes like this:

2 1/2 oz of Absolut Citron Vodka

Oz simple syrup (sugar water)

1 1/2 oz of lemonade

Rim martini glass with sugar (usually “wiping” rim with lemon wedge works to get it wet so sugar will stick)

Lemon wedge with sugar on it

Last night, I take a half-hour break from the bar, I come back, and my manager informed me that she attempted (LOL) to make a Raspberry Lemon Drop Martini, off the cuff.  I asked her how she made it, and it was all wrong.  I told her, this is how you make it:

2 oz Absolut Raspberri Vodka

1/2 oz of Chambord (basically a raspberry schnapps)

Oz of simple syrup 

1 1/2 oz of lemonade

(Then follow above instructions).

I took the drink to the guy that ordered it, for a taste test.  He took a sip, then pointed at mine.

-Clint

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What is a Cuba Libre?

Guy comes up to the bar, sits down, I approach, say, what’ll it be?  He says, I’ll have a Cuba Libre.  I say, ok.  A rum and Coke with a lime, coming right up.

I’m on the fence with trying to impress your bartenders with the names of drinks.  Occasionally, a patron will come up and exclaim, can you make me a Tooty-Fruity Brutty?!  Ok, I just made that up, but I know, deep down inside, right before the person asks the bartender for that obscure drink they got in Ontario, they KNOW the bartender is not going to know what drink they’re talking about.  So let’s work thru this problem, so we can find another solution to NOT pissing off your bartender.

This is how I’d like the exchange to go:  Hi bartender, I had a drink in a bar in Sasquatch that I really liked.  It was called the Thunderdome.  It had Kahlua, Frangelico, cream, and something else in it.  Have you ever heard of a drink like this, or something similar?

Man, if a patron dropped pure knowledge on me like that, I’d be impressed, instead of the alternative, I’d like a Thunderdome!

Watch, how your bartender rolls their eyes at that.

I’ll be perfectly honest, dropping names of obscure drinks onto your bartender can be lame, and somewhat pretentious.  That’s where the whole Cuba Libre thing comes in.  Know that the bartender knows that drink.  If they don’t, they’re not a very seasoned bartender.  And just say, could I get a rum and Coke with a lime?  And then, mark my words, the bartender will say, a Cuba Libre?  And you’ll say, yeah.  Exactly.  And know, if the exchange goes down like this, the bartender is going to respect you a great deal more, and might even give you a little extra love when making your drink.  Why?  Because point blank no bartender likes to feel like they’re being tested.  Does anyone?  

This happens very rare to me, but I kind of like it when someone says, have you been making any cocktails recently that you’re excited about?  If the bartender says yes, I GUARANTEE you’re going to get a well thought out drink.  You’re basically asking what the bartender has been drinking lately.  And when they say, yeah, I’ve been working on perfecting a Mojito, give it a try!  They might even buy it for you, since, perhaps, the bartender hasn’t perfected it quite yet, and you’re giving them practice.

-CC

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What You Get For Stiffing Your Server

I’m serving at the hotel bar, two ladies sit down in my section. They are of foreign descent. Here’s the problem with foreigners: many times it’s not in their custom to tip, which I am aware of. That’s fine, we all come from different cultures, with different customs. Hey, where these two ladies are from, the servers probably make an amazing hourly rate. They don’t necessarily need a tip. Unfortunately, here in the US of A, servers make a meager wage. That’s all fine of course, as long as their customers are tipping.

I take the ladies order. One wants to start out with hot tea. Unfortunately, the only place we can get hot water is way over in the gift shop. But that’s fine. I’ll hustle over there to get a guest a hot cup of tea. That’s just what I do. The other lady orders a hot chocolate. She says, do you have unsweetened hot chocolate? I’d like that. Huh. Unsweetened hot chocolate? Where the hell you get that? I say, I’m sorry, we don’t have unsweetened hot chocolate, but in the server station we have a Keurig and hot chocolate pods. That’s the best I can do. She thinks for a moment, then says, that’s fine.

I get their drinks, take their order, everything runs smoothly, food gets on the table in a timely manner, and I get their check when they request it.

They leave after some time, I clean off their table, grab their tab, yep, you guessed it…

A big zero in the tip line.

More specifically, they didn’t even put anything in the tip or total line. Just signed the check. Which is almost more annoying.

The next day, I’m serving again, I turn around, and one of the ladies from the night before, approaches.

Oh hi! she says, excitedly. Remember me?

I say, as a matter of fact I do! You were at Table 22 last night, wanted the unsweetened hot chocolate, and at the end of the night, STIFFED ME!!!

Ok, of course I didn’t say that. I just said, yes. I remember you.

With a trace of so what.

She says, I’m looking to get an apple. Do you know where I could find one?

I say, an APPLE? Yeah I got your apple RIGHT HERE (as I grab my crotch).

Ok. No I didn’t say that. Or grab my crotch.

Instead, I say, yeah, you can find apples in the gift shop. Over there.

But I didn’t say it as enthusiastically as I would have said it if she had tipped me. So BLAM lady.

IN YOUR FACE!!!

-Clint

 

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The Origins Of Putting A Lime In A Corona

I’m at the bar with my fellow bartender, guy comes up, and orders a Corona.  Do you want a lime with that?  Of course!  

This commonplace exchange got me thinking…  Who was the first person to put a lime in a Corona, and why?

After doing some internet research, I’m even more lost.  There are a number of theories.  The best ones:  to keep flies and bugs out, to mask the skunky flavor caused from having a clear bottle that reflects light changing the taste of the beer, and of course, some cynical bartender saying, watch me put a lime in this beer, and it go viral.

Whatever the reason, I’m sure it began as something, and then turned in to something completely different.  You just have to decide whether you like the taste of lime in your cerveza.  If you do, go for it, hombre!  

It kind of reminds me of the ritual of people packing their cigarettes before they open it.  I’m sure you’ve seen some addict doing it while walking out of a Kum And Go.  I’m pretty sure when the ritual began years ago, they were doing it to a pack of filterless cigarettes.  So yeah, actually a good idea to pack the cigarettes with your palm before you open it.  If you’ve ever smoked a Lucky or a Camel Straight, you’ll understand why it is helpful.  If you don’t pack the tobacco as much as possible, you’ll be constantly picking the tobacco off of your lips.  And that’s no fun.  But since the advent of cigarettes with a FILTER, do you really need to pack the cigarettes?  Not really.  But the ritual continues.

Another article I read about the origins of the lime in the Corona talked about how legally in the state of New York, a bartender could be FINED for touching a lime wedge with their bare hands/fingers.  Now, when was the last time you saw a bartender wearing gloves, or used a tong when grabbing a lime, and putting it in the neck of a Corona?  Like, never.  Can you imagine how time-consuming and laborious that would be?  And I don’t think anyone wants to see a bartender wearing gloves.  That would just be weird.  But again, legally in the state of New York, a bartender can’t touch a lime.  Your options are to grab the tongs and put the lime in with that, or place the lime wedge on a napkin, and present it to your guest with the beer, which is a little over the top.  I think I can speak for most when I say if you see a bartender grab the tongs, you’re gonna want to roll your eyes.  We’re not surgeons.

But of course, perhaps, psychologists.  But I don’t think they wear gloves…or use tongs.

Probably my favorite explanation for using a lime in a Corona was that some gringo thought it’d be funny to get a bunch of people to put a lime in a Corona.  But, I must admit, it looks good in that clear glass, with that white and blue label.  Then I’m sure the execs at Corona caught wind of it, and thought, this is marketing GOLD.

There’s one thing I will guarantee.  If you go down to Mexico, and you see a Mexican drinking a Corona, there’s not going to be a lime in their Corona.  It seems to be a very American thing to do, and if you ask for that lime in the Corona, everyone will know you’re a tourista.

-Clint

 

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