Category Archives: Bar Story

Remembering People’s Names

I’m behind the bar, around 6ish.  Two guys sit, sipping craft beers, we get to talking.  One of them asks my name, I say, Clint.  Curtis.

Over the years, I’ve learned to say my name.  What?  What do you mean learn to say your name?  I mean this.  OWNING your name with confidence.  After conquering that feat, I’ve made it a PRIORITY to learn people’s name.  The #1 most important part of business is learning people’s names.  I would even go as far as one of the most important things to do.  If you can wake up in the morning at a decent hour, get in the shower, shave, and eat a semblance of a good breakfast, learn people’s names and you’re bound for plentiful success.

I ask, what’s your names?  They say, Aaron and Josh.  I say out loud:  Aaron and Josh.  Aaron and Josh.  Aaron and Josh.  Aaron and Josh.  Josh nods, and says, you got it.

They leave after awhile, I bartend, and it’s an absolute shitshow.  Get a pot, put in WRESTLING TOURNAMENT, add in BACON FEST with a sprinkle of two weddings and a bachelorette party, and that was my night.  Am I complaining?  HELL NO.  See previous post:  I Like Money.

The two guys from before stroll in at midnight.  They’ve had a productive night, I can see it in their eyes.  I say, what’s up fellas?  One of them says, you remember our names?  I take a moment to check my memory bank, then say,

Aaron and Josh!

Aaron says, Yes!  …Now I feel guilty.  I don’t remember yours.

Bill Clinton taught me a very important lesson, and I always love to tell this story.  When he was in his early 20’s, and met someone for the first time, he’d get out a little notepad, and write the person’s name in it.  30 years later, he’s President, and sees the guy, and says, hey Frank!  And THAT is why the guy became President.

Ok.  He did some other stuff too.





You Look Like A Musician

I’m behind the hotel bar, it’s super busy, I’ve got two bar backs, and a mgr helping me, all hands on deck.

At Chair 10, a guy sits down. In about a millisecond, I gather that he’s a musician. One that’s been in the game for awhile.

He’s skinny. Nicely casually dressed, with an eye for fashion. He reminds me of Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth. Clean shaven, with a messy head of hair in his eyes. He’s got piercing blue eyes. Oh Gosh I sound like I’m in love.

After 12 years of bartending at a rock club, I can take one look at a person, and tell if he/she is a musician. Sure it’s the way they carry themselves. It’s the way they look, appearance wise. But there’s a certain je ne sais quoi that is the tip-off.

I think every great artist/writer, when you first meet them, has a certain mysterious quality. Maybe you get the feeling they’re always holding something back. Like a secret. What is the secret?

I know I’m being watched, and I’m ok with that. It’s subtle. So in a way, when you see someone who plays music, and have played on stage, possibly they’re more AWARE of themselves, and how they carry themselves. Almost as if, once they make the stage their home, and are comfortable in the spotlight, it’s hard to let that aspect go when out in the real world. Maybe it’s not the WAY they look, their clothes, their cool haircut, but it’s the awareness that people are watching them.

I walk up to him, and say, what band are you in? Sonic Youth? He smiles, and says,

Smash Mouth.



I Take Pleasure In The Details

I fell off the wagon.  And it was all because of Charlize Theron.

The rocks glass falls to the ground with a clunk.  Then ice cubes.  One.  Two.  Three.

The fourth hits the edge of the glass, and falls to the ground.  And that’s what got me.

The Stolichnaya vodka pours down into the glass.  The ice cubes, the clear liquid fills the glass half way.

With long bruised fingers Charlize paws at the glass, picks it up, and downs the contents in one beautiful glug.

I’m on an airplane coming home.  Where is home, I think I know.  I’m watching Atomic Blonde for the third time, and there’s much much more to the movie after the third viewing.

Charlize sits on the bath tub.  She’s been thru hell.  And so have I.  The scene plays out in my memory over and over.  The glass.  The ice cubes.  The Stolichnaya Vodka.

Did you know that when you’re driving down the highway, and people start passing you, that you will inevitably speed up?

Charlize enters the bar, walks to the bar, and meets up with a beautiful French girl.  The French girl says, I didn’t think you would come.

The French girl hands her a rocks glass, with the Stolichnaya Vodka.

Charlize says, you remembered.

The French girl says, I take pleasure in the details.




I Thought You Liked Money

I’m behind the bar, it’s been a busy night, things are winding down. It’s around 9:40PM, I start doing my cleaning duties. Wipe off counters, start cleaning espresso machine, etcetera.

At 9:50, I’m pretty much done with my cleaning, all my bar supplies are put in their proper home, ready for the next shift. I hear the front door open, four people come strolling in. I look at my watch. Damn. 10 minutes before close. They sit down, the server approaches them, they order. The server goes to the terminal, punches in the order. I look over at the kitchen, the main chef is shaking his head. Of course, he wants to get out of here.  Like I do.

The server says to me, got four cocktails coming in for you.

I grumble, oh man! Five minutes before close. I got all my shit put away, and…

He stares me down with a forceful gaze, then says, I’m sorry.

I thought you liked money.

I sputter, But…I….uh….der….

I put my head down,

And make the damn drinks.




Crazy Pills

I’m behind the bar, doing my thing, somewhat slow, a couple people at the bar.  I get to chatting with this guy.  Interesting fellow.  I would describe him endearingly as a dick.  The tables turned, he gave me shit.  I screwed up on pouring the wrong beer, and he didn’t let it go, saying, first day?  After much un-funny ribbing, I say to him, you don’t have a lot of insecure friends, do you?  He says, yeah.  We all stab each other in the back.  That’s what everybody does in the business.

I find out he’s a big producer for ESPN.  Traveling to Iowa City to run a Iowa Hawks game, then off to Vegas for another game, then off to blah, blah, blah.  A real jet-setter.

I say, you know, I just can’t really get into sports.  I feel like Will Ferrell in Zoolander when he says about Derek Zoolander’s famous looks, Blue Steel? Ferrari? Le Tigra? They’re the same face!  Doesn’t anybody notice this?!?  I FEEL LIKE I’M TAKING CRAZY PILLS!!!  I mean, it’s guys throwing a ball around.  And they make it into such a BIG DEAL.

He says, comically, Shhh-shhhhh-shhhh.  Keep your voice down.

I have a big house on a golf course because of it.


One Of Those Nights

I get in early on Friday to the restaurant to start setting up.  I had been “called off” the night before because it was expected to be slow.  I see one of the servers that had worked the night before.  Hey, man.  How you doing?  …Good, good.  So…how did last night turn out?

He takes a pause, then says,

It was the kind of night that made me question my life’s choices.

That slow, huh?

He nods, says, yeah.

Later that night, I’m standing behind the bar, trying not to fall asleep standing up.  This cold.  Nobody wants to leave their house, and I don’t blame them.  The same server walks up to the terminal to put in an order.  He prints the receipt, starts walking towards me.  Oh the Heaven’s open up.  A cocktail to make!  I almost start salivating, excited for the prospect to make a drink.  Instead of standing there, making my thumb smell from being up my bum.

He hands me the receipt.  Will it say a Bannerman’s Arsenal, perhaps?  My favorite drink to make.  Or perhaps a Noho Sour, a more complicated drink to make that will take me a whole minute to make?

I look down at the receipt, it says, OPEN DRINK.  And then under that, in NOTES, it says,


Yep.  One of those nights.


Much Ado About Confetti

It’s nearing the end of the night, New Year’s Day, I’m bartending at my hotel gig. Everybody’s safe up in their rooms, lobby’s empty, cheesy music playing over the lobby speakers.

I look over, and the game on tv has finished. The head of the corporation that is hosting the bowl is presenting a trophy to the head coach of the winning team.

“We felt that both teams played great, but TONIGHT, you earned this trophy, Coach. Yard by yard. Inch by INCH.”

The crowd goes wild, the confetti explodes everywhere, flying like multi-colored snowflakes in the air.

Now I believe strongly tonight right now sure I could change my mind in an hour but RIGHT NOW I believe there are only TWO TYPES of people in the World.

Type 1:  Oh, look…they’re flying the blue and red confetti at the end of the game. What a beautiful, celebratory sight, perfectly adding to a joyous night.

Type 2:  Damn…. that’s a lot of confetti. Glad I’m not gonna have to clean that shit up.

Type 2 is only reserved for people that have had to clean up confetti at the end of the night, and after that experience, will never ever be able to appreciate the joyous nature of confetti. Only the pain in the ass part that goes along with the aftermath of confetti falling.

I am a card carrying #2.

And rue the day you were born if carpet is ever involved.