Sunday, July 13, 2008

Bartender Insider (The Service Bar)

I started work at a new bar on Saturday night and as a part of my training I got put on the service bar for a good portion of the night. For those of you non-service industry types, the service bar is the area where the servers come to get their drinks for the floor and for their tables. I have a computer screen and when a server puts in a drink order it pops up on the screen. It was my job to make the drinks for that server and then line them up so that their drinks don't get confused with other servers. In most bars the bartenders simply keep an eye on the service bar and make drinks when they are needed (in between serving their bar patrons), but in my new bar we basically have to devote a bartender (and sometimes 2) to the service bar alone during the dinner rush.

The point of this activity was to give me a crash course in the restaurants extensive drink list and give me a chance to make A LOT of freaking drinks in a short period of time. I already have the people skills and the bartending skills, now it was simply about learning the drinks of the restaurant and figuring out where everything was.

Well, I got my ass handed to me in short bursts.

A good example is the scene in the movie Cocktail where Tom Cruise has 10 tickets in front of him and the waitresses are lined up yelling, "where's my fucking drink?!?" -It wasn't that bad but that scene is a good representation of a service bar.

The screen would be blank and all of a sudden 10 drinks would be put in at the same time and the screen would light up. Example:
Table 61
Seat 1: Pomegranate Razz Mojito
Seat 2: Miller Lite
Seat 3: 1 glass- Cono Sur PN
Seat 4: Mojito
Seat 5: Hibiscus Martini
I would then be spun into a action. A blur of silver drink tins, beer top popping, black tie swinging, and mojito shaking. At some points I even had to wipe my brow from the combination of drink making and the open air type atmosphere of the place. My new restaurant serves a lot of Mojitos, a lot of Caipirinhas and a lot of martinis- Translation- it's a lot of "work" intensive drinks. I wasn't just pouring Maker's and Colas, no, I was muddling, shaking, blending, and "infusing"... It was tough but I learned more new drinks and mixed more martinis and intricate drinks in four hours than I did over the course of an entire week of bartending at my other gigs.
I really enjoyed it. Being able to do more than just pop Bud Lights and mix vodka tonics reminds me that bartending can sometimes be more than just a job, it can be an artform; It can be something I'm proud to say that I'm good at.
Sidenote: It also helps that the staff is 95 percent female at the new gig. I'm not sure if you know this or not, but JGF likes the ladies.


a girl who reads your blog said...

Soooo, your new gig is Havana? When's your next shift?

Benedict Smith said...

the best part of starting a new job in the service industry is the jockeying to decide which girl you will end up sleeping with first....

HEK said...

Good choice of illustration, by the way.