Five Drinks Bartenders Hate To Make

This is an article from the San Francisco Chronicle that’s been making the rounds in the blogosphere. As a bartender, and a customer of bars, I have an opinion on this list of drinks and more specifically the responses of these so-called ’bartenders’. This article is the specific reason bartenders will remain on the bottom of the pile and never earn any respect. With these attitudes, a bartender will never be more than a legalized drug dealer. These attitudes show that many bartenders don’t really care about the drinks and are just basically in it for the easy money.

Drink #1: The Lemon Drop

Paschal Smith, bartender at the Bitter End in San Francisco, says he hates making them “because of the damn sugar.” Oh dear god, not sugar, run everyone it is going to get sticky. Here’s my advice, first you can, and should, wash your hands frequently behind the bar. If for some reason you don’t have access to soap or water, I think stickiness isn’t a big problem. The other thing is just make up some simple syrup and invest in a handheld juice press. You can whip out these drinks very quickly and you’ll make your guests very happy.

Drink #2: The Manhattan

Bartender Eric Berchtold of the Cinch in San Francisco says he doesn’t like to make Manhattans because “Too many things go into it and everyone wants them made a different way.” Boo hoo. That’s the McDonald’s attitude. You get your burger our way and if you don’t like it, though. Not too many restaurants survive on this principle, it actually seems to drive customers away. Even McDonald’s has made advances to improve the level of customer service. If a line cook were to say he didn’t want to prepare dishes according to the customers’ request, I don’t think that cook would be employed very long.

Drink #3: The Cosmopolitan

Again, this is just a bartender complaining that he has to do work. The drink contains more than four ingredients so it’s too hard. A Cosmo can be made pretty quickly, so I don’t understand why bartenders freak out about this stuff. It is your job people, it’s not a vacation.

Drink #4: The Mojito

Here’s that evil sticky sugar again. OK, fellow bartenders, the solution is simple syrup and stop acting like a three-year-old who freaks out when he gets dirt on his shirt. Bartending is a really messy job, and proper hygiene helps. You won’t be sticky if you wash and use the proper tools. The combination of rum and soda, with sugar and lime and then the camel backbreaker, the fifth ingredient, mint. Sure you have to muddle, but if you take some mint leaves, twist them in your hand to bruise, then put them in the glass and muddle for 10 seconds, you will get the essential oils out and the drink will taste fine. Finally, I don’t know anyone who shakes a Mojito. Go ahead and put club soda in a Boston shaker and give it a shake. Do you think sugar is messy? Wait till you’re covered in a Mojito.

Drink #5: More of the same.

If I’m paying for a meal, at a restaurant, and I don’t want onions on my sandwich, then I expect to get my food the way I want. Otherwise, I’ll never go back and I’ll tell more than ten people that the service at restaurant x is shoddy and don’t eat there. I expect to be “served” in a bar and restaurant, hence the name “service industry”.

I will go out of my way to make you happy when I’m working behind the bar. As a matter of fact, I was talking with a gentleman and his wife today when the topic of bitters in a Manhattan came up. The place I worked didn’t stock bitters, so I told him I brought my own bottle in (Regans’ Orange Bitters #6) so that I could make the drink properly. I offered the gentleman a taste of the bitters and he was thoroughly impressed (good job Gary). When his steak came, he poured a quarter ounce of the bitters on the steak and said it was great. So what did I do? I gave him the bottle to keep! He’s happy, he tipped very well and I felt good, nobody lost and we all left happy. What the hell is wrong with that?

I just don’t have any tolerance for lazy bartenders. Our income can surpass that of Molecular Biologists, Engineers and many chefs and cooks, so all bartenders need to take some responsibility and pride in their jobs. Sadly, I am aware and work with bartenders, who have these attitudes.

When you come to my bar please feel free to order anything you want. I am a bartender and my job is to serve your drink and make sure you come back. There is no bigger downer than some cocky no nothing bartender telling you he doesn’t want to make you a drink because he’s “busy”. The only reason we are busy is because of you, and without you, we’ll soon be unemployed. I wish we had a Chef Gordon Ramsay type head bartender, he’d fix things up pretty quickly. “Chef Ramsay, I don’t feel like cooking this steak, it takes too long” I’d just love to hear a response.

Next time the San Francisco Chronicle shouldn’t interview lazy bartenders, all bartenders are not like that, especially me. In the future, I think I’ll write about what’s wrong with bartending and how we can fix it. Hint, we need more real bar schools, like culinary schools.

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