Archive for the 'Open Mic' Category

One Perfect Moment: Vodka

June 16, 2009

Tucked away in a little corner of the Internet, away from the hustle and bustle, you’ll find Scans Daily – or its most recent incarnation, after the original fell victim to alleged grumpiness – where comic fans trade in snippets from their collections. Sometimes pages are posted because they’re flat out awesome. Sometimes they’re posted because they’re really, really bad, or obscure, or intriguing, or weird. Sometimes, they fit to the week’s theme. Last week, the community started posting scans of their favourite characters’ One Perfect Moment – the essence of the character expressed as eloquently as possible in a couple of pages or panels. It’s an absolute treasure chest of potential reading material.

So far, so geek, but we’re not really into drink territory. So here’s the thing: working in a bar, you’ll come across those same elegant moments that express an idea perfectly. For example, Scottish vodka drinkers…

Customer: What vodka do you sell?
Bartender: We’ve got [house pour], [insert super premium brands here], and maybe a bit of [random, appallingly expensive boutique brand] somewhere.
Customer: You’ve got Grey Goose? That’s a great vodka, it’s my favourite.
Bartender: No worries, one Grey Goose. On the rocks?
Customer: Yeah. With Red Bull.

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Monday Night Open Mic: Plan B

March 2, 2009

Imagine if careers advisors suggested ‘bartender’ as the ideal profession for your child.

“Well, Mr. Smith, young Jimmy is basically a nerd, but with a bit of coaxing, I reckon he could develop a drink habit and an astonishing ability to withstand hangovers while essentially whoring himself for change from people who inevitably think they’re better than he is.
“I imagine his projected earnings would be somewhere in the ballpark of minimum wage, but he’d have tips on top of that.
“Excuse me? Sorry if I wasn’t clear. Tips would be related to the whoring, yes.”

I’ve been working full-time in a bar/brasserie/hotel/nightclub complex for about three years now. Before that, I spent somewhere north of two years working for a nationwide chain of food-serving pubs while at university. I’m still young – relatively speaking; among the staff at work I’m technically in the Ancient category (thankfully not in the Old/Creepy subset, so I’m told) – so there’s a chance that I could try a new profession in the future, but the hospitality industry looks like it’s become a career. Which was totally not the plan.

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Saturday Night Open Mic: goodwill to all

December 21, 2008

It’s Christmas, or to observe the correct Noddy Holder pronunciation, it’s KERIIIISTMAS, which has meant a good two weeks of pain for anyone working in hospitality. I’ll preface this by saying I really don’t want to post specifically about work here, and all things considered, the holiday season’s been pretty smooth. After all, my bar hasn’t caught fire yet.

But Christmas is a tough time to work behind a bar, or waiting tables. I always think that it’s the one time of the year when bars and restaurants feel useful –  necessary isn’t the right word, but it’s close. There seems something ritualistic about a work Christmas party, a feeling that it’s a separate, though still important, affair from the family meal, and this is the time where we have to step up.

Festive customers don’t make it easy. My first ever bar shift was on the Friday before Christmas – the day we call Black Friday – and my new boss took the time to tell us to watch out for the people who don’t go out. Ever. Except at Christmas. It’s hard not to feel a flash of anger every time someone waves a bill in your face, or clicks their fingers at you, or argues about the amount of ice in their drink and how much it costs, and it’s harder not to take it personally. But somehow, every year, we get through it. We’ll call it an easy day if we finish after 12 hours, a quiet dinner service at 250 covers, and running out of ice a hiccup, but we get through it. We take the crazy requests, the stupid questions and the people who just refuse to understand, but we get through it. We end up broken and abused and so hungover it hurts to blink, but we get through it.

In twelve days time, we’ll sit down, together, with a beer or a glass of wine or whatever, and say, “Good work. Let’s never do that again.”

Until next year.

(Busy bar photo from S2 B’s Flickr photostream, issued under a Creative Commons license.)

Sunday Night Open Mic: it ain’t where you’re from

December 8, 2008

I’d been planning on writing a post to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Repeal Day. It’s a day worthy of celebration for anyone who works with alcohol and reminds me that bartenders have an obligation to dispense spirits, liqueurs and wines responsibly. The problem is that I don’t have a lot to add – US Prohibition carries more weight over here in symbolic terms rather than practical ones. My first thought had been to write about the legacy of Prohibition in terms of its effect on the culture of bartending and alcohol consumption, but Camper English wrote a great post at Alcademics.com that hit the topic right out of the ballpark. My second thought was, “it’s 3am on Saturday morning, I’ve got a 12 hour shift starting in 8 eight hours and I haven’t slept or eaten since Thursday.” Read the rest of this entry »