Men Wanted for Hazardous Journey.

This “help wanted” ad has long been attributed to Ernest Shackleton, Antarctic explorer, and it has been claimed that he received over five thousand responses to it.  Though it’s a brilliant bit of copy, it’s been fairly well established that it was just that; the ad never really ran and was written many years after Shackleton’s famed expedition. No matter, at the heart of it is a help wanted ad that spells out the real nature of a job. What are you telling prospective employees about your business and the type of employee you wish to hire?

What we choose to write and the attention we pay to detail when writing an ad will determine the caliber of employee attracted to an interview. In fact, the interview process starts with the ad; and it’s not you determining the skill and potential of an employee, but the prospective employee determining if your business has the skill and potential for them to make a living working for you.

Below is an ad that ran in my market recently and also very clearly lets a prospective employee know exactly what they’re in for if they sign on board.

This posting is for a bartender for our bars in xxxxx, xxxxx, xxxxx and xxxxx. This is a bar that has been here for a long time and is going to be going through a ownership change. This bartender must be able to manage a busy bar and help grow there shifts. We are willing to train but you must be willing to learn and have a great personality. We would like locals to apply to bring in new people to help us grow. We will help you plan your shifts so they always have something going on to keep it new for our customers. Please reply by text only xxx-xxx-xxxx with a picture and some of your experiance. I will text back to set up a time for a interview… Thank you

“Iceberg off the port bow!” Sirens and warning light should go off when you read the above ad. This bar is destined to interview the employees it deserves and I would hazard to guess that any bartender taking this job is in for “low wages, bitter cold, and long hours of complete darkness” and any chance for success is very “doubtful”.

 

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Angels Among Devils

“Sometimes I have wondered whether life wouldn’t be much more amusing if we were all devils, no nonsense about angels and being good.”  – Dr. Petorois, The Bride of Frankenstein.

Author’s note: The article Shameful Bartending: How Hubris & Arrogance is Replacing Hospitality took on a life of its own in the past 24 hours. Many people all over the world read it and many felt the need to share it with their friends. I hope more of you choose to share this article. It’s more important. 

And just when the night’s darkness seemed about to swallow Hospitality, there appeared a light. And there was a great klaxon of horns. And in the sky there appeared angels. Here were the bartenders who would slay the monster. Hubris and Arrogance fled from their light. And the swords of the angels were Kindness and Service.

Can I get an “Amen”?

Yesterday’s sermon preached hellfire and damnation about bartenders. Today’s sermon is the other part of the story, the proverbial flip side about bartenders who make a difference; the angels out there who volunteer their time and skill to help others. The bartenders who are changing their communities and the world through selflessness and service. Here’s how they’re getting to Heaven:

Bartenders Saving Pretty Faces. In August Uros Miljkovic, a New York bartender and barback was seriously injured while traveling. Though he has some supplemental insurance, it does not cover the expenses for the surgery he had on August 30th to repair major fractures to his left cheek bone and nose. His colleagues at Employees Only and Macao Trading Co. began a fundraiser for him, Save Uros’ Face, through Gofundme.com to raise $15,000 to cover his medical expenses. That was seventy-two hours ago; over 2/3rds of the money has been raised already.

Bartenders being Jesus. Except in Reverse. “When the idea came to me to start Wine to Water the only real job experience I had was tending bar,” said Hendley, “I dreamed of building an organization that fought water related death and disease using different methods than anyone else. So, I started raising money to fight this water epidemic that best way I knew how, by pouring wine and playing music.” 

In 2003, Doc Hendly dreamed up the concept of his organization while bartending and playing music in nightclubs around Raleigh, NC. In February 2004, the first fundraiser was held for what would one day be Wine To Water and by August of that same year Hendley was living in Darfur, Sudan installing water systems for victims of the government supported genocide. The organization has now brought safe, clean drinking water to villages and communities in thirteen countries and has directly affected the day to day lives of ten’s of thousands.

Bartenders get into the Pool. The Barman’s Fund is a motley assortment of bartenders in New York City who pledge one shift a month for charitable organizations.  Usually at the first of the month, they pick a shift and donate every last dollar they make on that shift.  They pool the money and look for folks who need it.  They contact non-profits and get ‘wish lists’ sometimes, other times they find a need and foot the bill.  They keep their causes non-political and their gifts as tangible as possible and have a damn fine time doing it all.  Founded in April by Brian Floyd, they have donated over $70,000.  They have chapters in New York City and New Orleans.  Holly Williams runs and adminsters the fund in NOLA.

Bartenders Protecting Heritage. We have a Museum for That. MOTAC: Throughout its two-century-old history, the cocktail has influenced music, theater, art, film, and politics around the world. The Museum of the American Cocktail is a nonprofit organization that celebrates this true American cultural icon. Founded by Dale DeGroff, and several of the world’s most passionate cocktail authorities and historians, the Museum of the American Cocktail seeks to advance the profession and increase consumer knowledge of mixology while stressing the importance of responsible drinking. Their mission is to create a self-sustaining museum and tourist attraction that celebrates and preserves a rich aspect of American culture, while providing educational resources for professionals and the public in the fine art of crafting the cocktail through a series of mixology seminars conducted by the world’s foremost authorities on cocktail history and American cocktails. They also aim to broaden career opportunities in the spirits industry and encourage more participation from women and members of under-represented groups in the field.

Bartenders in the Dark. Dinner in the Dark, behind co-creators Brian Okin and Jeff Jarrett, brings together Cleveland’s chefs and food lovers to share their passion and compassion. Once a month they host a six course dinner created by six local chefs. The participating chefs and the menu for the evening is not revealed until the guests arrive, keeping them ‘in the dark’. Ticket proceeds benefit a local charity chosen by the participating chefs. The Cleveland Chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild proudly partners with DITD every month and donates their time and talent to create the welcome cocktail for guests for each dinner.

Let us Pray:

To whom it may concern, we thank you for the gifts of beer, wine, and spirits. And we are grateful that you gave us the talent to serve people and continue to help us each day to ensure their happiness when they are under our tavern’s roof. And though we try not to hate our self involved, mean-spirited, talk too much, snobby snob, fancy panted brethren and we try to teach them the way of hospitality, we would have no problem if you smote them from time to time.

In Jerry’s name we pray,

Amen.

 

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Shameful Bartending: How Hubris & Arrogance is Replacing Hospitality

The voices started a couple of years ago. The voices got louder and began to swell. Now, it’s a roar. The guest is angry. Pitchfork and torches angry. Bartenders have become self involved, mean-spirited, talk too much, snobby snob, fancy panted mixologists… or bar chefs… or cocktail artists. Polite conversation and warm welcome has been replaced with diatribes on ice dilution and the hauteness of  hollywood princesses. Hubris and arrogance have replaced hospitality. What have we created in the blind pursuit of our craft and at the expense of the guest? Excuse me Dr. Frankenstein, but your monster is loose.

The following was posted recently by Sean Kenyon, a Rasputin bearded, third generation bartender out of Denver:

“I was recently enjoying a drink at a cocktail bar. The guest next to me, who was probably in his early 50’s, asked the bartender if they had Jello shots. To which the bartender snottily replied “ABSOLUTELY not” (a simple no would have sufficed). Undeterred, the guest then ordered 8 mixed shots for him and his group of 7 women in their 40’s and 50’s. The bartender’s response to that request? Eight shots consisting of a mix of Green Chartreuse, Lemon Hart 151 & lime juice. Two overproof spirits & citrus? Was he punishing them for daring to order mixed shots or Jello shots? Not one person finished any of those shots (there was a lot of funny faces made) and the smarmy barkeep gladly charged them full price for all. This is a classic example of the bad direction that our craft is headed. The bartender let his ego get in the way of making his guests happy, and was more concerned about his needs than his guests. Shame.”

OBEYDisturbing. A fireable offense. But not surprising. The guest has become the enemy; it used to be Front of House vs. Kitchen. I had a conversation last month with a Chef/Owner friend of mine about the animosity towards the guest and this is what he had to say:

“I don’t know what has changed; when servers and bartenders are in the kitchen, all they do is bitch about the guest. They hate them. Didn’t they know that there was going to be assholes in the restaurant tonight when they got into car to come to work? Professionals do, they still welcome them and give great service.”

Which brings me to how I see bartenders treat their colleagues. With disrespect. With animosity. Mixologists above Flair. Flair above Mules. Everybody above Beertenders. Even large market vs. small market. Here is what a colleague said to me over the weekend:

“Tales of the Cocktail felt different this year. I was disappointed at the attitude of bartenders I met from the East Coast, West Coast, and bigger markets like Houston and Miami. They acted as though I wasn’t relevant.”

This from a bartender who was an invited speaker at Tales. And whose bar has been nominated for an award at Tales the past two years in a row for its cocktail program. And who has a book coming out this fall. He marked it up to working in a mid-size market and the hubris of those who choose to work in major markets. He might not be too far off base. This is what one of my friends told me after he returned from a major cocktail competition this summer:

“Jane [name changed to protect the arrogant] told me I really needed to get out of  Cleveland if I’m going to make a name for myself in this business.”

Wow. Really? I hope “Jane” realizes that we bartenders are sort of like poets; those who “have made a name” for themselves in our business are only famous to us, the rest of the world doesn’t care. Except for the guest. And they’re at the castle gates Dr. Frankenstein, and they’re pissed.

Author’s note: The article Shameful Bartending: How Hubris & Arrogance is Replacing Hospitality has taken on a life of its own, much like Frankenstein’s monster . Thousands of people all over the world have read it and many felt the need to share it with their friends. I hope more of you choose to share  Angels Among Devils. It’s more important. 

 

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Perspective: Is Modern Mixology Worth the Hype?

Is Modern Mixology Worth the Hype? This was the question posed by Forbes.com’s blog contributor Jerry Prendergast last Saturday. It got me thinking. Really hard. Then I reached for the calculator.

Guess what. I got scary numbers too. I took Mr. Prendergast’s suppositions and determined the profit per serving. I costed all goods at my market cost, determined the cost of 1 hour labor at $8.00, and figured cost of labor in creating ingredients creating a prime cost for each beverage. Here’s the break down :

Glass of Chardonnay ($8.00 wholesale bottle), 6 oz pour, return per serving $5.94, return per hour $356.40

Guinness Draught, 16 oz pour, return per serving $4.67, return per hour $186.80

Grey Goose Martini, 3 oz recipe, return per serving $5.42, return per hour $162.60

Midnight Mary #3, per recipe, return per serving $8.00, return per hour $80.00

Now, before we continue I wanted to speak to the Midnight Mary #3. This isn’t your average signature drink. This isn’t your average bartender. This isn’t your average bar. This drink is from Charles Joly of Aviary. Yeah, that place. The place where cocktail dreams do come true. Where amazing drinks cost mostly between $14 and $19. I’m pretty sure Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas have profitability figured out at Aviary.

I see Mr. Prendergast’s point in drinks per hour, however the supposition lives in a vacuum when we look at profitability through the lens of one bartender’s efficiency in one category of drink. The reality is that a bartender is going to produce a broad range of  beverages; bottled & draught beer (low dollar return, high volume) and highballs (high dollar return, high volume) accounting for most sales. Which begs the question, are we looking at the numbers we should be looking at? Let’s change perspective. Which of the above items would you rather sell? Don’t start sweating percentages, cost percentages be damned, your bank accepts dollars not percentages. Even my 7-year-old knows which drink makes more money.

So is it worth the hype? It depends on your bar. Can you sell a twelve dollar drink? Is the average guest’s expectation of how much time it takes to make a drink align with how quick the bartender can make a drink? Are you stupid enough to load your entire cocktail list with drinks that take four minutes to make? This is what it boils down to: luxury/craft cocktails can have higher than normal costs associated with prime cost but always command higher prices and in return produce higher profits per serving. If my guests are only going to have two or three drinks during a visit I want them drinking cocktails. Ensuring these drinks can be produced at a reasonable pace is a matter of steps of service, mise en place, and the hospitality skills of your staff.

If you did not take the time to read the comments on Mr. Prendergast’s article, you should. He answers all criticisms with grace and diplomacy.  Most comments were made by guests who understand the time it take to create a proper cocktail. Mr. Prendergast understands this also. Think about McDonald’s vs. Morton’s when it comes to protein. The difference in serving time might be nearly thirty minutes. You have to have the patience to wait an extra two to three minutes for an often unique drink experience or at least a properly made cocktail. If you don’t, there’s a nightclub right down the street that would be happy to serve you a Marshmallow vodka and soda with a Jager Bomb side in sixty seconds flat, as long as it’s not five deep at the bar…

Of the Baltics, Bond, and Bubblegum – the Rise of Vodka

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Like to start fights? I mean starting real knock down, blood-letting fights? Try this:

1. Obtain one Russian.

2. Obtain one Pole.

3. Feed both copious amounts of vodka for several hours.

4. Harmlessly pose the question “So, vodka was invented in Russia?”

5. Get out-of-the-way.

Besides getting Argentines & Peruvians together over a bottle of pisco, there’s nothing more fun.*

Whether you subscribe to ‘voda’, the Russian root word for vodka, or ‘woda’, the Polish, one thing is certain, your choices are endless in today’s American market. The shelves at your package store groan under the weight of designer bottles claiming to be distilled four, eight, or twenty times. The shelf cards remind you that Brand X draws its water from a spring that Alexander the Great once bathed in, its grain was harvested by left-handed hermaphrodites under a blue moon using silver sickles, and that before bottling the distillate was filtered through thirteen feet of Vesuvius ash. A sea of ‘little water’ has been rising in the US for the past 75 years and shows no inclination of retreat.

Nearly thirty percent of spirits sold in America is Vodka. Not bad for something that is supposed to be clear, tasteless, and odorless. But that’s why you like it. It alcoholizes flavors. If you like orange juice and want to get drunk, hey, have a Screwdriver. If you like tomatoes and want to get drunk, have a Bloody Mary. If you like Kool Aid and want to get drunk, have a Sex on the Beach. Which brings up the fact of what you don’t like, the taste of alcohol. Gin reminds you of Christmas trees, Scotch of burning tires, and Tequila reminds you that last time you drank it that your head spent too many hours in a porcelain vessel meant for someone’s butt. It’s okay if you don’t like the taste of spirits. However, I’m suspect of things you do like the flavor of, are willing to drink instead of eat, and what you’re willing to pay for it.

Salmon. Bubblegum. Bacon. Whipped Cream. It’s not that I don’t like these things, it’s just that I don’t want to drink them. Flavored vodka has exploded into the American bar ranging from meat and cupcakes to Mountain Dew and marijuana.  Flavoring alcohol is nothing new. It started about two hours after distilling was invented; heavy flavors hide bad distilling and neutral spirits can get pretty boring . Throughout history we’ve flavored vodka with such things such as grass, peppers, citrus, vanilla, and even snakes. The problem I have is that all of the new flavors are for the most part artificial (better living through chemicals) and are more often than not childhood flavors (seriously, who’s asleep at the wheel at the TTB?).

Why do so many companies make vodka? Because it’s the least expensive spirit to make. Grain and potatoes are cheap. Water is cheap. Those are the only ingredients (unless it’s flavored but artificial flavors are very cheap compared to flavoring with the real thing). You turn on the column still, it works and works, it distills and distills. You don’t have to clean it out like a pot still after every distillation; the labor is cheap. You don’t have to age it in barrels (expensive) for many years (time is money). It literally can be sold the day it’s made. Yet you are willing to pay a lot money for pretty water fowl etched on glass when, what is in the bottle, is basically the same as what is in the plastic bottle on the shelf below it.

So a quick history of vodka in Russia, Poland, and the US:

1. Middle Age Russia and Eastern Europe: 500 years of sacking, burning, plague, and famine. Nobody is very happy. War keeps trade routes closed and wine is unavailable. Nobody is happy. Alcohol production is pretty much limited to mead, beer, and birch sap wine. These are usually made communally and only a few times a year in the villages. Nobody is happy except for a few times a year.

2. Moscow begins to consolidate power after being burned to the ground several times and occupied by about half a dozen different hordes. One of these defeats comes by deception because everybody is really drunk. Many historians record people being really drunk all the time. It is suspected that perhaps crude distillation is being figured out. Trade routes begin to reopen with Italy and Sweden. Someone brings some better booze.

2(a). Polish history: see above; same shit, different place, different people.

3. When a population is no longer battling invaders and dying of plague they can actually farm. Grain becomes plentiful. People discover that there is so much grain that they can begin making vodka on an industrial scale, make more money, and not work in a field. This makes people happy. Moscow thinks this is a pretty good idea, creates state monopoly on vodka. Lots of taxes make Moscow happy. Lots of vodka makes everyone drunk. Everybody is happy.

4. Russia continues to become more unified; i.e. they begin conquering more and more land because they can afford it. They sell lots of vodka, they collect lots of taxes. Everybody is drunk, everyone is happy. Nobody seems to notice the wars.

5. Wars continue. Taxes keep increasing. Colorful leaders with surnames such as “the Terrible” & “the Great” hold power over the people and government officials by turning the supply of vodka on and off. They do other interesting things such as creating The Drunken Council of Fools & Jesters because they like to drink so much.

6. Wars continue. Cathy “the Great” doesn’t care about drinking and gives up state monopoly on vodka. She sells really expensive licenses to a few people if they promise to keep vodka affordable.  These few people recoup the cost of their license by selling bad vodka. Tax burden now shifted to farmers growing grain for the vodka industry. People are over worked but still really drunk.

7. Wars continue. Everybody is really, really drunk. So drunk they lose a war. World War I begins, Tsar doesn’t want repeat of last war. Stops vodka production. This also stops the tax base. Hard to fight a World War without money. Tsar and family do not fare well. A guy who knows how to make vodka named Smirnoff takes off for safer pastures.

8. Soviet era begins. Soviets need money. The vodka faucet is turned back on. People are really drunk again but don’t seem happy. Really drunk and colorful leaders once again rule Russia.

8(a). Polish history: see above; same shit, different place, same leaders however.

9. Smirnoff guy shows up in America. Makes vodka, nobody likes it. Sells vodka rights to American company, still, nobody likes it. Company comes up with a cocktail recipe with ginger beer and vodka and people start to like it. British guy creates really cool book character that drinks vodka instead of gin in martinis. Everybody likes new book character, everybody likes that vodka doesn’t smell so much on the breath, everybody really starts to like it. Three martini lunches are born. Everybody is drunk. Everybody is happy except gin and whisk(e)y companies.

10. Everybody drives drunk. Nobody likes it. Everybody gets MADD. Vodka companies are unhappy. They don’t like when people drink responsibly. They come up with two great ideas: market Bubblegum and Fruitloop flavored vodka to 14 and 15 year olds because they don’t drive and charge insecure people ridiculous prices for something that tastes like nothing so they feel fancy when ordering a drink. Both ideas work really well. Vodka companies are happy again.

You like vodka, it makes you happy, or a least provides a reasonable facsimile of happy. You should be absolutely ecstatic as your choices are nearly endless. Russian vodka, Polish Vodka, Swedish Vodka. Rye vodka, potato vodka, corn vodka. Neutral vodka, flavored vodka, “character’ vodka”. Carbon filtered, diamond filtered, burlap filtered vodka. Four, twelve, and fifteen times distilled vodka. Cheap vodka, expensive vodka, ridiculously over priced vodka.

Remember, it’s supposed to be tasteless and odorless (unless it’s marshmallow flavored). Somebody is trying to sell you something tasteless and odorless (unless their trying to sell you tea flavored vodka). It takes a lot of marketing dollars to convince you into drinking their tasteless and odorless vodka (unless they want you to buy bacon flavored vodka and that costs them money also). At the heart of it all is a product that is very low in production costs and by its very nature (tasteless and odorless) basically identical to its neighbor on the shelf. The difference is the price, the vessel it comes in, and the marketing. The vodka companies are in a fight, a goddamn battle royal for your dollar. And like the battle between the Russians and Poles about who invented vodka; who cares?. It’s the same shit, different company, different marketing.

*Author’s Note: It’s been brought to my attention that you can have just as much fun with a Napa Chardonnay winemaker and a winemaker from Chablis and discuss the 1973 Judgement of Paris. Unfortunately the fist fight tends to be very one-sided.

My Foot is in Your Ass Because I Can’t Fix Stupid or Lazy.

I always warn clients of three things when we begin working together.

1. I can’t fix stupid.

2. I can’t fix lazy.

3. I can’t make walk-in coolers bigger.

See the pretty cocktail in the picture above? See the cooler in the background in disarray? See the bartender who left the cooler that way? No, you don’t. That’s because I fired him. Actually, I didn’t, this isn’t one of my clients. This photo was posted by a very high profile bar here in the US and when I saw it, my eye immediately was drawn to the cooler. And my heart broke. And then I got pissed.

This picture tells me a lot.

1. Lazy. Lazy bartenders, lazy management.

2. Stupid. Any bartender who would want to work their bench with that much chaos is stupid.

3. The bar is suffering loss. Letting storage areas become disorganized leads bartenders to open second or even third bottles that already are open but they don’t see. That means product gets poured down the drain because it goes bad.

4. Or worse, they serve outdated product to their guests.

If you walk into any store, be it grocery, clothing, or porn, items are lined up on shelves in neat order, labels faced forward and stock rotated to ensure the oldest product is sold first. Care is taken to make the product appealing to the purchasers eye. Glass front coolers and back bars should be treated the same way. Being well organized allows bartenders to serve more efficiently, helps make certain product is at its freshest when served, and ‘advertises’ your product to the guest.

Other things that makes me want to put my foot in your ass if not done right:

Fruit and Garnish Care. Wash it; your mother should have taught you this, she’s not stupid or lazy. Cut fruit does not last overnight; if you wouldn’t put it in your mouth why would you put it in a drink. If you have to stuff bleu cheese olives, aka the ‘devil’s testicles’, the cheese goes inside the olive, not smeared all around it. Nobody likes soft and limp, be sure your bloody mary celery isn’t. Mint is supposed to be green, not brown. Put a bar rag under your cutting board so the cutting board doesn’t slide; you like your fingers, don’t you? Get a proper sharp knife. A full tang chef’s knife is the proper knife, not that dull paring knife you are using. Again, your fingers look better attached to your hand and it makes picking up bottles easier.

Bottles and Pour Spouts. Wipe all bottles down in between and after every shift with a clean bar towel. That also means pulling the bottles from speed rails and wiping them clean; I’m tired of sticky bottles and fruit flies. Pull, wash, and sanitize pour spouts at least once a week. Pour spouts are placed back in bottles flag left of bottle’s front label. Pour spouts are not to be a study of diversity – pick one model and use it in all bottles. Quit being cheap, buy high quality spouts and replace them when worn.

Hand Washing. I see you sneeze, cough, scratch your nethers, smoke, shake hands with guests, and handle money. Then you touch glasses, garnishes, and straws. Be Lady MacBeth. Your mother taught you better.

Mise en Place. This job is hard, don’t make it harder by not setting up your bar correctly. It chaps my butt when I see a guest order a martini stirred and you have to search for a bar spoon. Why did you run out of register tape and have to run to the basement to get more mid-shift? How is it you only have one pen for guest checks? You make $200 a shift, buy a pack of $0.99 pens. And explain to me why you have to go to the kitchen to find kosher salt after I order my Margarita.

A Short List of Stupid & Lazy Things You Do. Dragging glassware through ice. Using hands to fill glasses with ice. Using the bottom of mixing glass (where your filthy hand just was) to strain mixing tin. Never changing sink water. Handling glassware near the rim. Not serving guests a glass of water when they order spirits. Not using cocktail napkins. Not wiping down bar between guests being seated. Letting empty glassware collect on bar top. Not using fresh glass for beer service. Starting draught pour without the glass under the faucet.  Never wash the salt rimmer. Not putting tools and bottles back where you got it from during service

Okay. I’m done. My fingers are bleeding from typing so hard and my blood pressure is dangerously high. Be a professional. Build good habits. I tired of ruining good shoes when you’re stupid and lazy.

 

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Our Bartender is Better than Your Bartender

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We are a fellowship of bartenders who are passionate about and dedicated to the history, craft, and enjoyment of spirits, wine, and beer. As a professional organization, we are committed to the development of our members through education. We provide members with career development through accreditation programs and networking. Our members are given the opportunity to showcase their skills and creativity through local, national, and international cocktail competitions.

Yesterday I accused your local bartender of having the same skill set as my seven-year old child; that was mean. True, but mean. What I don’t know about your local drink slinger, and which is truly the most important thing, is do they love to serve? Do they embrace hospitality? Do they have a strong work ethic? This is the hallmark of a professional. The minutiae of gin production, the historical relevance of the julep strainer, or the perceived difference in acidity in fresh pressed lime juice vs. four-hour old lime juice can be taught; teaching hospitality and work ethic is a bit tougher.

Bartender, mule, mixologist, bar wench, son of a bitch. I’ve been called all of them. I personally prefer ‘barkeep’ as I am a career path bartender who, besides mixing drinks and pouring beers, am also responsible for cleaning, profitability, and product. I ‘keep’ the bar. In that last 200 years we have seen our profession move from a valid, respected career to a transient position for college students. However, the pendulum is swinging. The explosion of American interest in food is fueling a revolution in beverages. And those of us who feed our families by serving libations are grateful that our dedication, passion, and respect is being recognized as relevant. Did you know that the esteemed James Beard Foundation recognizes beverage professionals as well as chefs?

Like any profession, we can be pretty ‘catty’. Mixologists look down on flair bartenders as ‘jugglers’. Mules think mixologists are too full of themselves and are slow behind the bar. All male bartenders dislike bar wenches because we don’t have certain physical attributes that earn them more tips. The mixologists concentrate on spirits, history, and esoteric ingredients while white table-cloth bartenders are aghast when colleagues don’t know the difference between Chat. d’Yquem and Domaine de la Romanee-Conti. And don’t get me started on the beer geeks and their insane ramblings on yeast strain and West Coast hops. As a co-founder and current Vice President of the Cleveland Chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild my goal is to bring all of these bartenders together for the betterment of our guests and our profession.

We in Cleveland are considered a medium size market and because of that, we are often passed over by large spirit, wine, and beer companies when marketing dollars are to be spent. Really Pernod-Ricard? Is spending $100,000 in NYC really going to move the needle on Absolut sales? Try spending $10,000 here educating bartenders and the public and see your sales move appreciably. Don’t think our bartenders can hang with San Fran, Chicago, and Miami? This is what we’ve accomplished recently here in Cleveland, let alone Cinci & C-bus :

Eric Ho, Melt – National winner of Tanqueray’s Gin & Tonic Contest

Rob Turek, Barley House – Numerous national flair titles, National finalist Woodford Reserve Manhattan Contest, Third place in the world TGI Fridays Cocktail Contest.

Joseph DeLuca – two time National finalist for Nightclub and Bar Magazine ‘Shake it Up’, National finalist for USBG/Bacardi National Cocktail Championship.

Nathan Burdette, Crop – National finalist Diageo World Cup

Matt Stipe, Market Garden – National finalist Don Q Rum Contest

Lynn Vozar – Ohio Tequila Festival Margarita Winner

Halle Bruno, Rosewood Cafe – Top five National finish in Domaine d Canton Cocktail Contest

Darko Marankovic, Rosewood Cafe – National finalist for GQ Most Inspired Bartender Contest

And this is the short list. Yeah, we can hold our own with major markets.

If you are a supplier or broker reading this, show us some love. If you are a bartender who wants to excel at your craft, join us. If you are a enthusiast and guest in our restaurants, come see us. We’re great at what we do and will treat you to a great hospitality experience. I’m sorry if I offended you or your local bartender by suggesting that their skills needed work; I want all bartenders to be better than Max, my seven year old.

Well that’s enough ranting for today. Hey Max, stir me up a Manhattan and don’t be shy with the vermouth…