Tuesday, September 12, 2006
In Honor Of The Barkeep On His Special Day...
When you're in a business such as mine (and I'm not talking about what I do to make money, I'm talking about the frequenting of local drinking establishments), you make friends with many bartenders. You have favorites. Often the bartender of a particular place will become a definitive reason to visit a particular place.
Bartenders are not just members of the service industry. At least good ones aren't. They are entertainers, counselors, teachers, debate opponents, critics and friends. The fact that they are also providing you with alcoholic beverages is beside the point. It's a calling, almost a holy order, and I look back at the days that I tended bar with fondness.
At my wedding, my mother made the observation that "only my son would invite the owners of his favorite bar to his wedding." To be fair, they are old friends and we have visited them at home and hung out socially, but the fact of the matter is, we met them at their bar.
Now here's a new one. Saturday will be the wedding of one of our favorite bartenders. Mickey from the Belmont is getting married, and he has asked Nicole and I to honor him by providing the ultimate service - he asked us to bartend his wedding. After all the time that he served us drinks, to know that he thinks enough of us to ask him to return the favor for an evening, it's an honor and a privilege.
I hope I'm up to the challenge.
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How cool is that?
Couple of weeks ago, Paul, one of our bartenders at the tiki bar, presented us with our tab and I noticed he undercharged us (he left off one of my bevvies). So I called him over and asked him to correct the bill so I could pay the appropriate amount and tip him our customary buck-a-vessel. 1) Was it insulting to point out the mistake? 2) Does buck-a-vessel still fly, or have we been undertipping the High Priest of Happy Hour?
Yes, you're now the "expert."
When tipping a bartender, I feel that a buck a drink is appropriate when asking the bartender to "make" a drink. If there is less work involved, I tip a buck a round.
For example, at the Belmont, if I'm simply walking up to the bar for three cans of PBR, I will tip a buck on the three cans, or if Nicole and I are just grabbing a couple of pints, a buck for those two pints.
As far as the missing drink, if it's a bar where I know the bartender (which is unfortunately most of the ones I go to), I don't point out the error, as it's usually intended. I will however, add a few bucks to the tip amount accordingly. Additionally, there are a few places where, if the owner is present, he will usually buy us a round, and I will always tip a few bucks to the bartender for that.
I guess I could be the expert of worse things...
How'd it go?
Did you have time to take pictures?
And now I have an image of you and Nicole shaking shakers, bumping hips amidst a large crowd of screaming fans ala Tom Cruise and Cocktail.
Was it like that?
I have a short list of my all-time favorite bartenders, and to be honest, when they moved on to other jobs (or in one case, marriage), I found myself neglecting the bars entirely.
I believe the secret to good bar service is to tip ridiculously well at the BEGINNING of the night. Tipping 50% on the first couple of rounds is an investment in a pleasant evening, where the bartender will seek you out at a crowded bar the moment you walk up to it.
It went very well, and I think I have a few photos from the evening. It was way fun.
If I'm at a bar I don't go to very often, I'll pull the good upfornt tip, but generally I know the bartender, so I keep it steady.
I meant upfornt, i meant upfront (I typed it worng... wrong again)... Cheeerist. Oh well, it's early.
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