Gut Rumbles

August 08, 2005


In my younger days, in between guitar gigs, I tended bar to make a little money. Sometimes, I made more money tending bar than I did playing guitar. That's not a bad job, but sometimes you have to hustle your ass off.

I learned very quickly that on those nights when I hustled my ass off, I didn't make much money. I was paid $1.20 per hour, plus tips. I made my money in tips. If the bar was crowded, the OWNER made money, but I didn't. He either stole the tips or I was too busy to notice whether someone left one or not.

The "Semi-Busy" nights were a lot better. Then, I had time to talk to people and pay attention to their needs. A good bartender is a combination of friend, psychologist and interested ear for anyone who wants a drink. I got to know the "regulars," and when I saw them walk through the door, I'd have their usual waiting for them.

I made a lot more money on those kinds of nights. Your ashtray stayed clean, your glass never went empty and I might even slip you "one on the house" from time to time. I took care of the good tippers.

You wanna know the WORST people to bartend for? Black Wimmen. Got-Dam! Where did THEY ever learn to drink? They'd come into the bar wanting something with cream and five different sweet liquors in it. WTF is THAT?

I had a Bartender's Guide behind the counter, but some of those orders just blew my mind. WHY would anybody want to drink that shit? Plus, I never understood how anybody can order top-shelf brandy at $5.00 a shot and want it mixed with shit under the bar that had mold growing on it.

I didn't work at Baskin-Robbins. I poured beer and whiskey-- I didn't serve ice cream. But that's what some people seemed to want.

I think everybody needs to tend bar for a while. It'll teach you a lot about the human race.


I used to bartend part time too. Talk about wierd concotions. Sometimes I swear it was 95% flavored sugar water with 5% alcohol.
I am a whiskey man too. I like to sip and enjoy the drink. If I wanted fruit juice, I drink fruit juice.

Posted by: Dean on August 8, 2005 10:57 PM

Yep, on all counts. But I did have a barteder make me a Bahama Mama (complete with umbrella) that made me sit back down in my chair when I tried to leave.

One of the few times I left my car and took a taxi. I'd been lobotomized.

Posted by: Bane on August 8, 2005 11:04 PM

ick, how the hell can anyone drink sweet liquor? *shudder*

Posted by: Alli on August 8, 2005 11:06 PM

I like all those weird drinks. I was always looking for something new.

Posted by: Dax Montana on August 8, 2005 11:15 PM

whiskey makes me instantaneous reverse peristalsis--i was like, "oh shit, here it comes..."
and that sweet crap just gives you a monster of a headache in the morning. although, one of the more compelling drinks i've sampled was called a slippery nipple. i highly recommend it--it might be one of those good sweet drinks. also, a nutty irishman if you're into creamy (bailey's & frangelico)
otherwise, i was more of a beer chic. now i don't drink nuttin.

Posted by: erica on August 8, 2005 11:25 PM

The young Marines I know are into the 'Irish Car Bomb' now, whatever the heck that is.

Posted by: Bane on August 8, 2005 11:45 PM

Yep. I've spent my time on both sides. Learned how to keep a drunk happy and keep him buying thinking I was really pouring them strong. Also managed a club and learnedhow to inventory and find out which bartender was pouring to many free ones and taught them howt o pour a free one and make the inventory come out right.

Posted by: GUYK on August 8, 2005 11:49 PM

Irish Car Bomb: Beer and a shot. You drop the shot into the beer glass and try to chug it.

Posted by: Alli on August 9, 2005 12:01 AM

A-Guy, I do believe I have been doing what is called "trolling" your site for some time, I just can't seem to get enough. (I am not sure trolling is just lurking, or leaving bad comments as well, leaving bad comments doesn't apply to me.

Anyway, I bartended for a year or two and workd a day job at the same time. I made a lotta money and had a lotta good times. It's (as you'd say) Got-Dam hard work, and yes, you hustle your ass off. I learned a lot of respect for people during that time period.

This is my first comment, but I just couldn't resist, you are right about all kinds of people ... and p.s. my regulars were the best!

Keep on blogging, and maybe even write that book!

Posted by: DMP in ORG on August 9, 2005 12:02 AM

IMHO there are times when a sweet liquor drink is mighty nice. At Christmas we had chocolate Martinis--chocolate liquer, amaretto, orange vodka and a Hershey kiss for an "olive". Chocolate powdered sugar around the rim. Two of those will knock you right on your ass and you think you just had dessert.

Posted by: Suz on August 9, 2005 12:33 AM

Had a friendly bartender when I was in Key West several decades ago. He had worked at some big bar in Hiwaii until he got tired of the load and moved to KW.. That Man could mix those fruity drinks all afternoon from memory. Never repeating one and you thought you were drinking fruit punch until you tried to stand up. Hell, he would tell you when he made up a new one on the spot that he had never done before. (Snooty Fox anyone?)

Posted by: emdfl on August 9, 2005 01:00 AM

I'd just like to clarify Irish Car Bomb. You drop a shot of Bailey's into a pint of Guinness and down the whole thing in one go.

Posted by: Eddie on August 9, 2005 01:34 AM

I'm going to have to try that Irish car bomb drink.
When my friend Kari went from waiting tables to bartender, my husband said "oh great, just what you need. A best friend that's a bartender!".

Posted by: Maeve on August 9, 2005 02:01 AM

I ran pubs and bars too, and it amazes me when I hear about couples (over here) that want to retire and 'run a pub' thinking it's going to be an easy job.
I could write a book about those times too, but mine would have stories about alcoholic goats in it as well. Wow are goats difficult customers...

Posted by: Misty on August 9, 2005 04:24 AM

I drank all the alcohol I am allowed for this lifetime before I turned 30. I don't miss it and I don't miss sitting in a bar. Never met very many good people there. It was a place to drink and forget for me. Not a good place to make friends as far as I am concerned. Rob is right though, you really get to know the human race there.

Posted by: assrot on August 9, 2005 07:27 AM

Baileys? Yuck...Leprechaun cum.

Posted by: Bane on August 9, 2005 12:05 PM

I had a brief period of tending bar, and it served to give me both an excellent repertoire of ways to make bartenders like me, as well as as many ways to make them hate me.

Like, ordering Mojitos when the bar is very, very busy. Oh how they hate that, even if you tip well.

I typically start the evening with a pint of Guinness, pay with a $20, and raise my hand at the implication of change. More often than not, it's the only $20 I spend, and I end up with a whole hell of a lot more than $20 worth of booze in me.

It also helps to know how the split between the bartender and the serving girls works, if, for example, you're trying to hit on the serving girls.

Posted by: Mr. Lion on August 9, 2005 12:08 PM

LOL @ Bane
MMMMMMMm Leperachaun cum....!

Posted by: Maeve on August 9, 2005 03:39 PM

Don't you drink that nasty white, zinfandel? If so, I wouldn't talk about anybody else's poor taste in liquid intoxicants if I were you. :-)

Posted by: Juliette on August 9, 2005 03:56 PM
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