Me, Sher, and Ad

Me, Sher, and Ad
Bro Adam and sis Sher, my rocks!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Bartending Ups and Downs

As some of you know, I am a part time bartender at the local firehouse social club and at the private lodge in my community. I make my “fun money” this way. I really enjoy it. Being a “talker”, I am completely in my social element. Usually it means a fun, busy evening of bouncing about pouring beers, making shots, and mixing cocktails!

Sometimes though, bartenders have to make difficult decisions which are not so fun. It involves cutting people off, sending them on their way, making sure they are alright to drive, or finding them a ride if they need one. I have on more than one occasion actually had to give a patron a lift home if no other ride could be found. As a bartender, you have the tough job of gauging people’s tolerance to alcohol. A sober person sometimes can quickly become a VIP (visibly intoxicated person)before you know it depending on if they are on medication, have had nothing to eat, or normally do not drink a lot.

The other week I had an issue with a loud obnoxious woman. She has come into the Lodge before and is usually a little kilter anyway. I always attributed it to her odd overbearing personality. She tends to really talk loud and other patrons eventually move their seats away from her. She drinks and gets louder. She is always nice to me but I sometimes have to tell her to bring it down a notch and keep an eye on her.

That night she had a problem with one of our waitresses and was grumbling to whomever would listen. I was told about it and had to make the difficult decision to place myself “into the issue.” So I jumped in, handled it, and it was soon resolved. Unfortunately, when she comes in, I roll my eyes thinking, “What will she be like tonight?”

My good friend at the Lodge asked me after the incident, “How do you place yourself into a situation without hesitation?” I told her at the time that you just do it because it has to be done. After thinking about it more, I realized that taking the position of bar manager or bartender comes with uncomfortable situations like this. You have to observe people who drink and then judge their behavior. Some people are happy drinkers, other are obnoxiously loud ones. Luckily most people fall in between. If there is a conflict, you have to gauge the situation on whether it’s more important to win the battle or win the war. How can this be resolved quickly? How do we not make this escalate into a situation where the police may need to be called? Should this person be banned?

During one night, a bar patron thought that I was being disrespectful to him by not allowing him to run a tab. He had misunderstood me and started getting loud in front of everyone, yelling, “I don’t need this! I will spend my money elsewhere!” He thrust his beers he had just bought back into my hand. It was embarrassing and I tried reasoning with him but to no avail. I backed away and let him go. You see, after trying to reason with him, I realized he was just not hearing me and it wasn’t worth any further scene in the bar. I acquiesced as I just knew I wasn’t going to “win this one.”

A couple months later, he came back in and I didn’t bring it up until he did. I explained that he had misunderstood what I had said and he apologized to me for his behavior. He continued by stating that he had been having a bad day and didn’t mean to take it out on the bartender. Sometimes that happens. We all have bad days and take it out on other people. All was forgiven and I bought he and his wife a round.

So next time, remember that bartending may seem all fun but it comes with a lot of responsibility. If I cut you off or tell you to calm down, it’s not because I am trying to rain on your parade. I am trying to keep order in an establishment that serves alcohol. I can and am held accountable by state liquor control laws. If God forbid something happens to you, you can be rest assured that something will probably happen to me as well.

And by the way, just a little side note from your friendly neighborhood bartender, Long Island Ice Teas and any frozen drinks of any kind are a pain in the ass to make.


  1. And, some times, it is good to have the remote in your hand in order to hit the "mute" button.

  2. If only the remote could work like that! Oh how I have tried...