Category Archives: Instructional

What Is The Proper Etiquette When Serving Wine?

I had an enlightening conversation with one of the servers at St Kilda last night, and I’d like to share it with you. Besides servers and bartenders, I think anyone who has ever ordered a bottle of wine at a restaurant, or will do so in the future, will appreciate this info.

What is the proper etiquette when serving wine? By watching this talented server in action, and asking him some clarifying questions after, I was able to pick up a few cool pointers on how to properly do it.

When you approach a table, you will need to carry the bottle of wine, a wine key, and a serviette. A serviette is like a bar napkin that you will use if there are any wine drips. The serviette usually hangs neatly folded just above the wrist. This particular server holds the wine bottle in his right hand, with the serviette on his left wrist.

When you open the wine, the label should always be facing the customer who ordered the wine. The BOTTLE never moves. You twist the wine key. And here’s an interesting fact. When you pop the cork off, you should do it so there is NO SOUND when it comes off. I’m still trying to perfect this technique. It’s actually kind of difficult to master.

Now once you’ve got the cork off, many of you know, you pour a taste of it to the person who ordered it. At this point, stand up-right, almost aloof, with the bottle of wine in your right hand, and the left with the serviette behind your back. If the person says, “it’s not acceptable,” there’s no hesitancy or question. You figure out the next step, whether to get them a new bottle of the same, or something different. Wine does in fact “turn” so there is a chance this could happen. As the server, you should be ready for this to happen. Never ASSUME that the wine is going to be acceptable.

Here’s a cool part I did not know. When the taster gives you the nod that the wine is good, you always pour everybody else’s FIRST, then the person who ordered the wine and tasted it, LAST. This is one of those traditions I’m sure you could look up for the reasoning behind it, but it’s basically a show of respect via the person who ordered the wine.

And when you pour the first glass, always pour only a half glass in each glass, but when you come to “the taster” at the end, you give them a little more. With this technique, it gives everyone at the table the impression that they’re getting more than just one glass of wine out of the bottle. Usually, there are four glasses of wine in a bottle.

When you pour the wine, you pour, twist, then subtly wipe the bottle with the serviette.

Of course, the twist top bottle is becoming more and more popular, and will change a bit of the ritual. But you can always play off of that, and have fun with it.

One last thing. If there is a cork, you don’t put it back in the bottle. You casually place it by the person who ordered the wine. I believe most wine’s names are also on the corks, so they can take the cork home with them. The perfect way to remember a delicious bottle of wine for future reference.  I remember speaking with a couple a few months back, and they actually write a date on the cork, then keep them all in a glass container in their kitchen.  Once a month, they’ll pull one of the corks out at random, and reminisce about the evening the cork came from.  A ritual I found endearing.




You Don’t Buy Candy At The Movie Theater

I’m behind the bar, chatting with some customers, guy, girl. Girl brings out a bag of animal crackers from her bag. They’re in a Ziplock. She says, you want some animal crackers?  I say, hellz yeah. I love animal crackers.

She says, we were going to go see a movie, that’s why I have them. I say, yeah!  I do that all the time. You don’t buy candy at the movie theater. You have to be an absolute imbecile to do it!  

She agrees.

I say, you pay 10 bucks for a box of Skittles.

Stop at Walgreens on your way to the movies, buy your Mike And Ike’s.

I don’t care how rich you are.

You don’t buy candy at the movie theater.

-Clint Curtis


Those Anxious Moments

Do you ever feel anxiety?  Wow. I just sounded like one of those commercials for anxiety medication with a question like that. I feel anxiety at times, it can be overwhelming. When things aren’t working out as planned. When I’m feeling out of control emotionally. And what do I do when I’m in the throes of an anxious moment? I reach for something, to get me through.

It used to be a cigarette. Oh that was my blanket, to cover me up, to make the demon pass me by. But I stopped smoking seven years now, so can’t use that. How ’bout a shot of whisky? Oh that helps, don’t it?  But now, I don’t drink, so I can’t use that.

When we’re having an anxious moment, we have a tendency to reach for something destructive, to get us through. Why the hell do we do that?  It seems counterintuitive, don’t you think?  It seems it would make things worse, not better.

Now that I’ve gotten control of those addictions in my life, what can I reach for? Well…a banana, that’s what. A banana?  That’s ridiculous. Ok, I’m not saying reach for a banana necessarily, though it would work. But when you’re having an anxious moment, instead of reaching for something bad, do something good. I go take a walk. I write. I eat something healthy. I drink a glass of water. And you know what?  It has helped me get through those anxious moments that much quicker.

So put down the pack of smokes, walk away from the whiskey. Reach for something good.

And the moment will pass.

-Clint Curtis


Download Card With Skittles Release Party

I’m chatting with this guy at the bar. He’s got this great, full mustache. One of those that almost looks fake.

We’re talking about music, he says, I stopped listening to music. I say, I’m getting there. You know, sometimes, when I’m working at the bar, I hear a band I like, I’ll talk to them after their show, they’ll give me a CD, or I’ll buy one. Be honest, it’s rare I buy a cd. But when I get one, I give it a chance. I get in my car, end of night, put it in the old CD player, push play, listen to the first track, ok, not bad, not bad, move onto the next one, ok, going downhill a bit, the next one, no, dropping off, then, when I’m at an intersection, I’ll roll down my window, and toss it out. I make sure to get it off the street, onto the sidewalk part where pedestrians wait for the light. Then, next day, kid comes up, finds the CD, takes it home with him, puts it in his computer, listens to it, maybe loves it, shares it, see, happy ending.

Mustache guy says, who gets CD’s anymore anyway? You get the download card, you’re done.

This is what you should do, bands. Have a download card release party, but tape the download card onto something people would want. Like a bag of Skittles.

Who’s going to throw out a bag of Skittles out the window?

Nope. Not me.

-Clint Curtis



Have you ever heard the saying, when opportunity knocks? Sure you have. It’s as old as your great-great grandmother Ethel. But does it work? Is that what you should do, wait around, until opportunity knocks at your door? I don’t think so, my friends.

Imagine a house on top of a hill. Lush green grass surrounds it. The opportunity that awaits you is inside the house. But first, you have to figure out a way in the house. What do you do first? Let’s knock on the door. Like it’s going to be that easy. Nope. Nobody’s answering. You look through the window next to the door, you can’t see anyone inside. Let’s go to the back, maybe there’s a back door. You go back, knock on the door. Nope, nobody’s answering. Ok, do you walk away? Oh, can’t get into the house where opportunity awaits, guess it’s not going to happen? Nope, not this guy. I start trying the windows. I go around the house, checking each one. Nope. All locked. Let’s look around for a ladder, maybe we can get to a second story window. You find one, in the garage in back, you set it on the house, extend it, climb up, nope. Locked. Huh. Ok, doors all locked, windows all locked, what’s next?

Your opportunity, THE opportunity you’ve been working so hard for. The job you studied 10 years for. The record contract your band has bled for. The girl you dream about. The opportunity is inside the house. You HAVE TO get in there, it’s life or death stakes.

You get down from the ladder, return the ladder to the garage, come back to the house, and just stare at it, for a while. How else does one get in a house? Well, the easiest way is to have a key. Maybe there’s a key hidden around the exterior of the house. You start looking. Under the front door mat, of course, above the door, you keep on going, scouring every place you can imagine someone hiding a key. You look under every rock, every hide-y-whole. Nope, no key. Ok, let’s stop and think for a minute. There must be another way.

You could throw a brick through the window, climb through, but that’s probably not the best idea. Let’s not cause damage to the house. You could climb to the roof, make your way down the chimney, but you look, and there’s no chimney. You’re stumped. How ‘bout we take off, rest on it, think of another way.

You come back the next day, nope, same thing. OK, do you give up? I’m sure some do. They start to question, maybe the opportunity’s not really inside. Maybe I should just go home, sit in my living room, wait for someone to knock on the door, give me an opportunity.

And then the opportunity is lost.

You’ve got to think of another way.

The one who perseveres thinks of another way. They don’t stop, because they know there’s an infinite number of ways to get into the house of opportunity. Let’s learn to be a plumber, an electrician, a house keeper, a grounds keeper, a carpenter, start a business, write a letter to the house, offer your services, free of charge, for the first visit. You have to ask yourself, how determined am I to go after my “golden” opportunity? But wait, step back. IF I do get into the house, and I’m given the opportunity, WILL I BE READY? Have I worked tirelessly on my songs, are they ready, for the opportunity to take it to the next level? To get signed, to go on tour. Do I have the right experience, studied my ass off, to get the job I seek, so when I get it, I will excel?

Maybe you’re not ready to get in the house? Maybe that’s why the doors are shut to you. Maybe you need to step back, reevaluate yourself, work on yourself, so when the time comes, you will knock on the door forcefully. You will stand there with confidence. You will wait, and wait and wait. You will wait some more. You will knock again, you will knock again, you will be incessant, you will knock again and again, until you hear a noise in the house, and then footsteps, and then someone will say, behind the door, who is it? And you will say your name in a way that will demand the person to open the door, and find out more.

And then the door will open, and the rest will be up to you.

-Clint Curtis


Say Your Name

Guy comes up, orders a couple drinks. I get them for him. He hands me his card, says, my name is Clay. I say, thanks.

I loved the way this transaction was made, in so many ways, by him saying simply his name. See, I have to write down a persons name down when I start a tab. I have to look at their name on their card, and it’s difficult sometimes. My eyes aren’t as good as they used to be, and I should be wearing glasses for the close up stuff. He says his name, hey, I don’t have to scrutinize his card, try to figure out what it says. On top of this, when he said, my name is Clay, I knew right off the bat that he wanted to start a tab. There was no need to go back and forth. Do you want to start a tab? Ummmmm…. I don’t know. This might be my only drink. Ok, you want me to close it? No. Keep it open.

This interaction can get trying at times.

And last but not least, by him “introducing himself”, I remembered his name. And don’t you want the bartender to know your name? Sure, you do.

Later on, he comes up, says, I’d like to settle my tab. I say, your name is Clay, right? He says, yeah. Great. I’ll get it for you. I go get his card, run it, say, you know, weird thing, I really appreciated you telling me your name. Helped me out a bunch. He says, oh. Well, it’s a temporary card, it just says WELLS FARGO CUSTOMER on it, thought you might need my name to go along with it.

OK, this guy bursts my bubble with it, but still it helped me out a great deal.

-Clint Curtis

A Whisky Coke With Jack

Guy comes up to the bar, says, can I get a whiskey and Coke?  …With Jack?

You know, I hear this all the time. Can I get a vodka cranberry with Grey Goose? Can I get a gin and tonic with Bombay?

Let’s add up all the times you’re going to say that extra stuff. I bet it would be 30 minutes in the span of your life. I’m going to save you time in your life, that you can use towards something more productive. Like taking all that crap in your garage to the dump, if you follow this simple rule.

Say, can I get a Tanqueray Tonic? Can I get a Captain and Coke? NOT can I get a whiskey Coke with Jack?

It’s obviously redundant, unless your bartender doesn’t know what booze Jack is.

I know, this is nitpicking, but don’t treat your bartender like an idiot.

And they won’t treat you like one.

Unless you deserve it.

-Clint Curtis


Why We Do This

It’s slow at the bar, everyone’s in front of the stage, enjoying the show. I have time to watch the performer, enjoy his music. I start daydreaming while listening, and I’m thinking, I wonder why this guy does it? I mean, the real reason. Maybe he’s not even aware of the exact reason why he gets up on stage, and does what he does.

The great actor Laurence Olivier was asked in an interview, why do you act? He took a serious tone, and whispered, look at me. Look at me.

As babies, we need attention. We need our mother’s love. Then as we grow older we still crave that attention. All eyes on us. This is one of the big reasons I think people get up on stage. Attention. Look at me.

People want to say something, and it matter to someone. It feels so good to be at the microphone, doesn’t it? When I speak in it, EVERYONE CAN HEAR ME. Sometimes, they even shut up! I am saying words, saying sentences, and they’re listening to what I have to say. I am important. They are LISTENING TO ME.

Look at me. Listen to me.

People want to feel special. They’re not like everybody else. They’re unique. And everybody needs to hear my music, and see me on stage, and realize how special I am.

Look at me. Listen to me. I am special.

People love to be the center of attention. Look at how most stages are set up. The lighting is low on the audience, the stage is lit up. What are you looking at? The performers on stage. They are the focal point. We as audience members are looking at them. What they are doing is more important than what the audience is doing. What they’re saying is more important than your friend standing next you, because look! They have a mic.

People get up on stage because it makes them feel good. But why does it make them feel good? Because it feels good to get attention. It feels good when people are looking at them. It feels good when they are listening to them.

And then the show is over, they have to go back to their lives, where no one listens to them, no one seemingly cares about them, and no one thinks they’re special.

Until the next gig.

-Clint Curtis

Shot Etiquette

A customer came up to me tonight, we’re talking, she says, what do you think about this?  I asked a bartender if he would do a shot with me. The bartender did the shot with me, and charged me for both. Is that wrong?

There is nothing wrong with that. It all depends on the bartender. If you say to a bartender, I want to buy you a shot, then the bartender is completely justified to charge you for both shots. I don’t feel comfortable with that, though. I have never charged someone for a shot I’ve done. I will charge them for their own shot. If I’m the one who says, let’s do a shot, then it’s my responsibility to get the round. If you want to get completely specific with the bartender, which I know they will appreciate, you can say something like, I want to buy a shot. Would you do one with me? Then, everything is clear, and the bartender can answer honestly, and everybody feels good.

From my heart to yours,

Clint Curtis. Bartender.

Complimenting A Woman’s Hair

I’m at the Lift, an old friend of mind comes in, she sits at the bar, I say, right off the bat, Oh…I love the hair. Looks good on you.

I’ve learned, from past experience, that if you don’t comment on any kind of change to a woman’s hair, you’re gonna be in trouble. Jesus…you didn’t say anything about my hair. Oh, sorry. Yeah, that blond streak really helps frame your face well.

Another girl I’ve known for awhile comes to the bar, 6 months ago, head COMPLETELY shaved. I say, oh…love what you did with your hair!!!

See how you do it?

From my heart to yours,

Clint Curtis. Bartender.