It was always a means to and end until it wasn’t. A “golden handcuffs” job. I start to love it, over time. I get paid to be out at bar or a party. Something I would probably attend anyway. There is great food. Champagne. Music. Often times, I was in something black that I liked. Nice fabric. Comfortable yet stylish and usually from a sponsored designer. Or jeans, which I love almost more. It’s social. People came to me. I learn about grapes and regions for wine. Spirits and distillation processes. People are interesting. Hospitality school comes into play along the way. I also deal with drunk assholes. “How much do I charge for a night?” “Can I get any white?” And, “you should have heard what he said when you turned your back” often came out of some colleague’s mouth to me in the service bar. Many nights, I hate everything. Some mornings, 5:am I arrive home. Some nights as early as 10:pm. Bartenders take care of bartender. Timing is everything. Multi-tasking necessary. Socialites. Celebrities. Rockstars and Playmates. Bone marrow and organ donors. Doctors. Nurses, agents, shoppers. All walks of life. I have been in the company of all, often. Forbes Five star shopped, check three times. Chefs’ tastings, check, check, check. Wine Festivals, yes. I even consider my sommelier test. All of this because I am bartender. The most asked questions; “What else do you do?” “What are your dreams?”Like my current job isn’t good enough. Bartender. In reality, some years I was making more than many “acceptable” professions. And I keep my clothes on. Cleaning up after people. Their uneaten food. Broken glasses. Spilled booze. at one point my perfume. Music. Very important. Hospitality course. Food an wine tastings. Managers, very important. Who tips and who doesn’t: remembered. Attitudes, hard to forget. Almost every night, feels like a party and a grind.
Thankfully, these days, documentaries provide insight on this profession, bartender. Hey Bartender, for example. Available on Netflix. Wine documentaries help too. A Year in Burgundy and A Year in Champagne. The product on the shelves comes from somewhere. Yalies are leaving their cubicles for this shit. Pardon my English. More accurately to mix spirits and socialize. There is a “I own a bar” complex. Even if it is five percent. The glamour. The grit. The idea. The craft of bartending. Make beer. Apprentices lining up to learn this. A job I tried for so ling to leave. (To do what, I don’t know)The job I always want . Now it is glorified again. A bit. Not everyone agrees. I learn from this Irish kid from Philly in college. Seemed more fun and flexible than folding t-shirts at the Gap. His father says he taught me. I think they both did. That was the time of “electric lemonade” mad in pitchers with mini bottles. I also learned to pour a pint of Guinness that same year and how to play blackjack. A “Renaissance”. Craft cocktails. Mixologists. The egg whites. The dry shake. Five grapes in Bordeaux. Where is Champagne? What are the grapes in Champagne? You know I know the answer to this one. The steps of service. Not so delicious cocktails. Sometimes the balance of flavors just plain wrong. Decant. Taste. The service bar. Jura. Malbec. Thirty second to place a napkin in front of the guest. Wine service. Clockwise. Where do I start again? I could go on and on. Twenty years in one blog post seems silly. There are a few fun recipes below. Some photos and videos. You know me. I tend to get out of control with the taking and posting of photographs. This blog post will continue to be a work in progress. 86 mint.
You can check out more of one of the places I was a bartender in my post interviewing the CEO Hotels. Hospitality and My Reality in Five Stars..
OFF THE VINE
2 OZ BUFFALO TRACE BOURBON
3/4 OZ LEMON JUICE
3/4 AGAVE NECTAR (NOT SYRUP)
4 HEIRLOOM TOMATOES
2 BASIL LEAVES
TOP WITH CLUB SODA
DIRECTIONS: MUDDLE TOGETHER BASIL, TOMATOES, AND AGAVE NECTAR. ADD LEMON JUICE AND BOURBON TO THE MIXTURE. SHAKE VIGOROUSLY AND STRAIN (DOUBLE STRAIN IF YOU LIKE) OVER ICE.
GLASS: ROCKS GLASS
GARNISH: TOMATO AND BASIL ON A STICK (MAKE IT LOOK PRETTY)
WATERMELON CHILI MARTINI
2 OZ BOMBAY SAPPHIRE
1/2 tsp SAMBAL CHILI SAUCE
2 OZ WATERMELO JUICE
DIRECTIONS: ADD ICE TO SHAKER TIN THEN ADD BOMBAY AND WATERMELN JUICE TO THE TIN SHAKER. ADD SAMBAL. SHAKE UNTIL CHILLED. FINE STRAIN INTO A MATINI GLASS.
GARNISH: OPTIONAL. SALTED WATERMELON SLICE OR NO GARNISH
3 OZ ZUBROWKA BISON GRASS VODKA
FRESH CUCUMBER SLICES
FRESH MINT LEAVES
DASH OF SIMPLE SYRUP
TOP WITH APPLE JUICE
DIRECTIONS: MUDDLE, BUILD (USE VODKA LAST), SHAKE AND POUR INTO A HIGHBALL GLASS
GARNISH: CUCUMBER SLICE
1 1/2 OZ ABSOLUT VODKA
5 OZ FRESH SQUEEZED OJ
DIRECTIONS: POUR ABSOULT AND ORANGE JUICE OVER ICE. COOL DRAFT ICE IS BEST. FLOAT GALIANO ON TOP.
1/2 OZ PLYMOUTH GIN
1/2 CHARTREUSE ( GREEN)
1/2 OZ FRESH LIME JUICE
1/2 OZ MARASCHINO LIQEUER
DIRECTIONS; SHAKE WELL AND STRAIN INTO AN ATTRACTIVE GLASS (COUPE IS ALWAYS NICE)
GARNISH: LIME WHEEL
Mocktail (the Non-alcohol drink): TBD
See some bar photos below. There are thousands, I have chosen the few and A BIT boring stills for this post..
Before renovations at VLBH (I work there for about four and a half years)..
on a technical level, this drink isn’t Reallllly made properly… two hands not needed.. stir with spoon.. where was the ice.. although I am it sure he wanted me to stir with ice..this end of the bar wasn’t set to standard and I didn’t think I would be in a video!?..(not an excuse tho..)
Some bar tools and bottles for requisitions.. front of house ( what the guest sees) and back of house (staff only)…
UNTIL NEXT TIME…