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Thinking about bartending - need help and suggestions.

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Gregg Shiu, Dec 19, 2003.

  1. Gregg Shiu

    Gregg Shiu Second Unit

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    Because I'm cooking a lot of the time, I've always found bartending to be so cool because of concocting mixed drinks while socializing with people. A friend of mine who finished bartending school and has just went to a few refresher courses recommended I try it because of good pay and it's something that's different from the desk jobs I've had in the past. I only know so much about the job, since I don't drink (seriously, I don't). I know that bartending school will be somewhere around $600 to take, and one of the downsides I know will be the second-hand smoke I'd have to put up with where I'd work. I was wondering if there were any HTF'ers here with any bartending experience or any helpful insight that would help me with my decision. Cool experiences and anecdotes would be nice too, thanks!
     
  2. Scott Leopold

    Scott Leopold Supporting Actor

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    I bartended for a couple years, about ten years ago. After doing it for a few months, I went to a bartending school, and also took a course on it at the local community college. The actual on the job experience was much more educational, although the bartending school helped me memorize a lot of drinks. The restaurant I worked in wasn't very high volume, so I applied at several other places but never got hired. I finally asked one manager why I didn't get the job--I had over a year of experience at that time, along with the school, the course, and I'd been responsible for all the alcohol ordering, stocking and promoting where I was working. He told me that they just never hire anyone who's been to one of those bartending schools. Years later, after getting out of the waiting/bartending business, I had several different managers and restaurant owners tell me the same thing, although none of them were able to give me a good reason.
     
  3. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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    You can start by getting me a Singing Viking![​IMG]
     
  4. Ralph Summa

    Ralph Summa Supporting Actor

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    That's a Screaming Viking! [​IMG]


    I bartended as a side job and also as a primary job. The on-the-job experience is better than any course, but sometimes completing a bartending course is the only way to get your foot in the door. Bartending schools often have job placement programs. You can make some great money and tips are for the most part undeclared for tax purposes. We were forced to declare 12% of our gross sales in tips. We did a little better than that.

    If you decide to work in a restaurant, bartenders often end up waiting tables in the bar during day time shifts. It helps monitarily because of the slow bar traffic during the day. So wait-staff experience is key. I had never waited tables and it was hard as hell for me at first.

    The smoke sucks, especially if you don't smoke. when you pull your shirt over head you'll want to puke! There's no getting away from it unless you work in a smoke free establishemnt.

    A good bar book is a must. Stay away from Mr. Boston. I found their recipies to be really bizzare. My book of choice is called the "Bartenders Bible" by Gary Regan.

    You'll always encounter someone who will want to stump the bartender. Never be afraid to ask a customer what's in the drink. Some drinks have multiple names, some are offshoots of other drinks. I'll never forget the fool who came into my restaurant and ordered a "Smooth Sailor". After stifling laughter I asked him what was in it. It's a Madras (Vodka/Cranberry/OJ) with cherry brandy floated on top. After he ordered a few, I felt comfortable enough to tell him that if I were him, I'd order a Madras with cherry brandy floated on top instead of a "Smooth Sailor" unless he was looking to pick one up! Humor always helps.

    Last tip. When you make a martini, pour vermouth into the chilled glass, swirl it around and dump it out. Then add your vodka or gin.


    By the way, I'll take MY Screaming Viking with the cucumber slightly bruised!

    Good luck!

    Ralph
     
  5. Steve_Tk

    Steve_Tk Cinematographer

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    I've got a friend that has done it for about 5 years. He makes decent money, enough to have a house and nice car and meets a lot of people. I guess the question is where is the future in it? He always says he isn't going to do it much longer, says that every year actually.
     
  6. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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    I could have swore it was "Singing"....


    [​IMG]
     
  7. Gregg Shiu

    Gregg Shiu Second Unit

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    Wow, thanks everyone for the input, keep it coming please. I've decided I'm probably going to take the course at the more well known bartending school in Northern Virginia next month so that I'll be set up with a job hopefully during the next semester and summer. Already got the Bartender's Bible through a friend, thanks for that tip. Ralph, how hard is it to memorize the combinations, considering how I don't know anything about alcohol, except that screwdrivers are orange juice and vodka?
     
  8. Scott Leopold

    Scott Leopold Supporting Actor

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    The best thing about the bartending school, IMO, was that they gave a lot of mnemonic devices for remembering the drinks. I can't recall them right now (it's been about 10 years) but they were pretty helpful. You'll eventually find that, unless the place you work has some specialty drinks, you're going to be making the same 10-12 drinks 90% of the time. In regards to the martini, we kept our olives soaking in vermouth. For a dry martini, I'd use the swill and dump method. For very dry, I'd just throw in the olive, no vermouth.

    The most interesting drink I ever made was a double Long Island Iced Tea. I was hestitant to serve it (the lady had already been drinking when she showed up), and asked my boss her opinion. When I told her how much alcohol was in there, she told me to charge $18. I did, and the lady gladly paid. She tried to order a second, but I refused.

    One good thing to keep in mind is that, by law, you can refuse service to anyone. I had a table try to pull one over on me one night. It was a guy and two ladies. The guy owned a restaurant that had just opened down the street, and the ladies were waitresses there. They all ordered alcohol, and I carded the younger waitress, who was pretty obviously underage. She refused to let me see her license, then claimed she left it at home. I refused to serve her, and she got nasty. The older waitress said she'd buy for her. I asked if they were related, and she said no. I then said I still couldn't serve her. The young one asked why I asked if they were related, and I pointed out that a parent can buy a child age 16 and over a drink. She then said the older lady was her aunt, while the older lady claimed to be her mother. I said that if they showed me some ID to prove it, I'd serve her. The young one got much nastier, said she knew the law, and said that I had to serve her. I laughed about her legal explanation, explained that I really did know the law, and refused to serve either of them. I then asked the guy if he had anything to add, and he said no. He ended up apologizing, and left a nice tip, but I told him that if he planned on trying to bring underage girls in to drink in the future, his business wasn't welcomed.
     
  9. David McGough

    David McGough Second Unit

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    I did it from 77-80 and loved it. Started as a bar back. He does the stocking, cutting, preping dirt work. Worked my way up.
    Fridays, Ruby Tuesdays, Shenanagins.
    Back then was Great. I was in my 20's
    Got some fine looking ladies and some hogs that needed lovin
    as well. Smoked some good dope, got some great Tips and meet
    some great people. I had some local Whores who were fine ladies who would tip me well. Didn't do it alot but when I was asked by the rich looking man looking for some pussy Id line it up. You eat damn near free, drink free make all sorts of contacts. Bartended a few private parties a couple
    were some nice naked ladies. Locals knew me and I was trusted. Worked one from Waylon, Willie, to Chet Atkins, Feron Young,
    I could juggle Ice, Spin bottles, light up a ladies cig
    in a instant. Specialitys were Shooters, Dirty Mother, I could layer a Long Island Tea that would look like it was in slices. And yea you can tell I had the Bull Shi**ng down
    pretty good. After work was fellow restruant people partying and watch the sun come up.


    Meet this sweet young Vandy gal, she used to drink my mistakes we dated and yes we married. That was 27 years ago.
    Had to give up All thoes good times and bad habbits up.
    I have to say it was the best time in my life. I had stories you would not believe.
    Thanks for bringing bartending up. Fond memories as you can tell..
     
  10. Scott Leopold

    Scott Leopold Supporting Actor

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    The restaurant I bartended in was a bit upscale, so we never had any problem at the bar except on one occasion. I was working a private party, and it was for this guy's 20th or 30th anniversary at work. His wife and best friend had arranged the whole thing as a surprise party. Unfortunately, they never explained to him why they'd been spending so much time alone together, and why they were being so secretive. The guy assumed they were having an affair, and when they showed up for the party, he sat down and started drinking doubles of Jack, no chaser.

    Since it was his party, I had no problem lining them up for the guy. I knew it was a pretty big event, and that he wouldn't be driving home. Well, everyone else was working on setting up the decorations in the back room, while I sat there getting him drunk and listening to him wallow in his self-pity. After about 45 minutes of this (and about 5-6 heavily-poured doubles), I realized that he thought his wife was cheating on him with his buddy. That's when they came out to bring him in back and start the party.

    Drunk guy jumped up out of his seat, called his wife a whore, and made like he was going to kill his friend. Now, our bar was spectacular. It was a massive, oak bar. The bartop itself was about 3 feet wide, and it was about 4.5 feet high. I was standing behind the sink, which added another foot or two to the width, and their were bar chairs on the other side, the backs of which were a good deal higher than the bar. I somehow managed to clear all this in a single leap, landed in front of the drunken fool, and held him back. I pushed him back, but luckily held onto his jacket because he'd have gone down otherwise. The other guys came over quickly and helped hold him.

    We sat him down, and everyone asked me to get him another JD. I refused, but did make him a big mug of coffee. He kept taking half-hearted swings at his buddy, and his wife ended up walking out in disgust. About fifteen minutes later, when the guy decided to go after her, I managed to get his keys from him as he ran past (he was holding them up in his left hand, and I just yanked them out as he went by). While the guest of honor, his wife, and his best friend had an awful time, everyone else managed to party it up pretty good, and I got a nice tip out of the whole deal. IIRC, I got $50 just for the party, and another $20 from one of the guys because I'd grabbed the guy's keys.
     
  11. Ralph Summa

    Ralph Summa Supporting Actor

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    It's like anything. It's all repetition. The drinks you'll forget are the ones you make twice a year. Once you're working, the place's signature drinks will be drilled into your head and those are the drinks you will make every day. Everything else will fall into place depending on you're customers. I worked in an Italian restaurant where I made Brandy Alexanders and Old Fashioneds and Manhattans every day. I moved to a sports bar where all I made was screwdrivers and White Russians by the dozens. I always kept my Bartender Book in an accessible but inconspicuous place as a back up. The drinks you forget, you look up. There are so many drinks by so many different names that sometmes you have to ask.

    Ralph
     

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