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An old bartender once told me, that bartending is the aristocracy of the working class. You get to know, and develop relationships, with all kinds of people. When he told me this, I really had no idea what he was talking about. I was 18, and apparently he didn’t realize that I had already figured the world out.   

***My Background***

Before my first bar gig, I was working a summer job on a maintenance team making $6/hr. I was hearing stories from a relative of mine that he was making a few hundred dollars a night tending bar. I thought he was full of it, but then he showed me his pocket full of cash from the night before, and I swore he was selling drugs. He said with a little practice, an eye for detail, and a willingness to work the entire time you were behind the bar, I too could be making this much money in one night.

Having no restaurant experience, and no womanly assets, I quickly learned that it is not easy to get a job behind the bar. After trying my hand at waiting tables for a few weeks, I didn’t think the restaurant scene was going to be for me. Then out of the blue, I get a call from the brother of my cousin, who was making the pockets full of cash. He told me that he was looking for someone to work a few day shifts behind the bar that he just bought. I thought, wow this is pretty lucky, and I agreed. I told him I didn’t know the first thing about bartending, and he told me that I was just the kind of person he was looking for, because I had not already developed the bad habits many bartenders have.  

I learned quickly that people who frequent bars during the day, especially little corner bars in Philly, are not exactly the crème de la crème of society. Not to mention, they, like me have already figured out life. Unfortunately, they were many years my senior and I had to respect that. They would hit me with questions like, “Are you even old enough to drink?” Knowing that spitting out such endearing retorts like  “What the heck does that matter? I got the what you want, you drinkin or you walkin?” Probably wouldn’t get me on my way to the hundreds of dollars I was trying to make that day so I acquiesced, and said “not yet, but I can help you with what you need, and maybe you can help me be the best bartender around”.  Being a city kid, I learned fast that when confronted by a pompous –fill in the blank – stroking the ego was the easiest way for me to get what I wanted, and all I wanted was for ‘Pompous Charlie’ to give me his money and get out. Ah the city of brotherly love! You just can’t make this stuff up!  


***Learning Opportunity*** 


If you enjoy going out, and like being treated well, there are a few quick and easy ways for you too to get what you want from the bartender. If you have figured out that you are only going to be in a certain bar once or twice, just be pleasant, and tip a buck or two on each round, and you should be treated fairly. Don’t get me wrong though, the vast majority of people behind the bar weren’t trained properly and not given the support they need, so don’t get mad at them. Just like in your job, not everyone is perfect. Just roll with the punches, enjoy the friends that you came in with, and have a good time.  



Shouting at the bartender when you want something, just like when your spouse/ friend/coworkers shouts at you, is always a pleasurable and welcoming way for you to get what you want, and get it quickly (dripping with sarcasm). Remember, this is the person that is helping you get where you want to go, and is in full control over your order up until it is front of you. Think about it; is this really the person you want to tick off? Nothing quite tastes like the sweet flavor of Slutty Suzzie’s Herpes because the glass she used wasn’t properly washed for your off the charts, disrespecting and demanding mouth. Nothing like a gift that keeps on giving!   

b2ap3_thumbnail_cash-on-bar.jpg     If you are a regular bar patron, and you find someone that is really doing a good job, let that person know. With Cash! Accolades are great for a salaried employee. Cash is King to a bartender. CASH, not credit card. As it turns out, this is also the keys to the castle. 

If you roll into your favorite watering hole, drop a quick 10 spot, and say,  “Me and my friends came here tonight to have a good time because we knew you were working.” Any bartender worth their salt will make sure you are well taken care of, and should also make you look good in the process. 

Who doesn’t like to be treated like the man? Not hard to do, doesn’t cost much, and as long as everyone is cool and having fun, everyone wins. Just don’t forget that this up front cash is similar to a retainer. However, don’t forget to tip on the bill, and how well the service was for you and your guests.  

This is just a small sampling of some fun, and maybe a little bit of knowledge, and some funny stories that I am willing to share with you. Please feel free to ask me some questions, or even critique my work, after all knowledge is for sharing, and after working in the business as long as I have, I have learned, there are far too many folks out there that are completely clueless in social situations, even without a cocktail, and need all the help they can get.  


To your health and until next time! 



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