Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Cabernet Heist

I thought I had seen it all.  I'm humbled to say that I was wrong, and it was so worth it.  The following happened recently while I was bartending an "exchange" with a sorority and a fraternity from USC.  For those that don't know, an "exchange" is a themed party for frats and sororities at different locations, and usually they act horribly and get drunk and any outsider would see this and immediately weep for the future.

This particular night was no exception...

There was about 250 people at this party.  One bar was inside with two bartenders, while there was an outside bar with one bartender.  I was bartending the outside bar.

The first hour of the "exchange" was a hosted bar.  So the college kids made sure to consume as much free alcohol as their livers could tolerate within the allotted time.  Everybody who was of age was wearing a wristband to ensure no underage drinking, and I was only giving out one drink per wristband.  The free hour quickly went by and I switched over to a cash basis bar.  That's when the fun started.

"Can I get a vodka-tonic?" asked one frat dude.

"Nine dollars," I replied.

"It's a hosted bar," the frat guy smugly replied.

"Only for the first hour.  Now it's a cash bar."  I said.

"We were told it's hosted for two hours," he argued.

"You should go and find the person that told you that, and tell them they're wrong," I answered.  Then I moved on to the next person.

This went on for quite awhile.  I would hear things like,"now that I'm paying for the alcohol, maybe you can put some alcohol in my drink?  I like them strong."

Which I would smile, pour the same amount of alcohol that I had already been pouring all night but say, "this one is REALLY strong."

Or, I would say that it's a cash bar and some of them would ask if they could use a credit card.  I would say yes.  Then they would tell me, "So you mean it's a CASH and CREDIT bar?"  Because they're going to USC, they thought this was amusing.

"I stand corrected.  It's a 'Payment Bar.'  You pay for the drinks with some form of legal tender.  Probably being your parent's credit card."

Then, suddenly, my dreams came true.  There was a short-frat kid, with glasses, and headband and a crappy mustache who put an unopened bottle of Trinity Oaks Cabernet on my bar.

"I just bought this from the inside bar and they don't have a wine opener.  They said you could open this for me," he said.

I took the bottle and placed it behind me like I was going to help him out.  Then I made drinks for some other people who were waiting before him.  "Shorty" was not a patient frat dude.

"So, are you going to open my bottle of wine?" he demanded.

"I didn't know we were selling bottles at this party?  I thought it was only one drink at a time," I questioned.

"No.  I paid the bartender inside $100.00 for this bottle so me and my girlfriend can have it.  They told me you would open it."

Mind you, Trinity Oaks Cabernet won't cost anybody more that $8.00 at any grocery store, but he claims to have paid $100.00.  Put I still played along.  "Do you have a receipt?" I asked.

"I left it at home," he said with a straight face.

"You left Hollywood to go back to USC to file your receipt?  That's pretty smart.  Always keep your receipts for your accountant."  Then I noticed that he had three other people who were standing at my bar listening to our conversation, but they were telling me to give him back his bottle of wine.  But I don't get many opportunities like this.  So I continued.  "What did the bartender look like who sold you this bottle?"

"Short guy with a black mustache," Shorty said.

"I hate that guy.  He's always doing shit like this," I immediately answered.  But the description he gave does not even come close to what the other two bartenders look like.  "If you can find that bartender and bring him out here, I'll give you the bottle back."

"I can't find him.  Just gimme back my bottle.  I paid $100.00 for it!!!  I'm the social chair of this fraternity, you can give it to me," he insisted.

"No.  You stole this bottle.  So it's going to stay here," I told him.  Now his friends still felt the need to stick up for this guy by pleading his case.

"He's a good guy.  Just give him the bottle back," they said.

"I have a lot of money.  I paid for that bottle!" Shorty yelled.

"Well it's a good thing you're not the Treasurer of the frat, because you would have overpaid for a bottle of Trinity Oaks Cab, if you had actually bought it.  And we also don't store our wines at 98.6 degrees.  It feels warm, like it was stuffed under your shirt... when you stole it!"

Now he's fuming.  His friends are still trying to help him out.  "It's only a ten dollar bottle of wine, just let him have it!" they pleaded.

"So you're the smart friend." I said.  "But you should've helped him out by not letting him steal a bottle of wine from a bar, and then bring it to ANOTHER bar.  Remind me never to hire him to be on my heist team.  He would steal money from one bank teller, and then bring the money to the next teller and ask them to make change."

Finally, they left.  But I would continue to see this guy throughout the night.  As if he was still thinking he could steal back the bottle.  So I placed the bottle at the end of my bar to tempt him.  Like a moth, he kept floating by.  He finally left the party when I placed a sign on the bottle.

Until next time... Server's don't pay their rent with compliments.

"Bitter.  Party of 1?  Your table is ready."

The Bitter Bistro



Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Are You Smarter Than A Customer?

If my life were a game show, then I would be constantly playing against my customers.  So let's get ready to play, "Are You Smarter Than A Customer?"

Recently I argued against one lady who spoke annoyingly slow.  When she finally finished her question, it was along the lines of, "Is there caffeine in the herbal mint tea?"

"No.  There's no caffeine in the mint tea," I answered.

"I'll have the decaf mint tea," she replied.  Mind you, she spoke extremely slow.

"There is no decaf mint tea.  It's herbal.  There's no caffeine in mint leaves."  I argued.  But I wish there was caffeine.  So she could speed herself along and get the hell out of my section.

Then, on the same night, the bar was busy so I went behind it to help out the other bartender, Matt.  There were only two bartenders behind the bar.  Matt was on one side of the horseshoe and I was on the other.  A group of girls comes up to my side and one of them says,

"There's no alcohol in my drink.  Can you put some more in it?  It just tastes like fruit juice."

This is when I love being behind the bar, because I can actually talk to customers the way I want to.

"If there's no alcohol in it, then how can I add more to it?"

"Well it just tastes like juice.  There's not enough alcohol," she pleaded.

"You have to take your drink to the person who made it."  I added.

"It was one of the bartenders back there."

"Well there's only two of us, so it shouldn't be hard to find the one who made your drink."  And then I helped the person next to her.

Until next time... Server's don't pay their rent with compliments.

"Bitter.  Party of 1?  Your table is ready."

The Bitter Bistro


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Less Ice, More Alcohol

I survived another Halloween shift at work but not without my fair share of comments from peeps trying to get the most alcohol for their buck.

I get it.  It's Halloween and people want to drink and get crazy.  I stepped away from the serving scene for the night, dusted off my bar tools, and got back behind the bar for a night of freaks, sluts, and bingers.  And that was just the employees.  (Rim shot!)

For some reason, people have this belief that too much ice is damaging to their drink.  As a bartender, when you make a cocktail, you start out by filling the glass to the top with ice.  The reason for that is to ensure that the alcohol stays at the proper temperature.  Most bars nowadays have the type of ice that doesn't melt as easily as ice that looks like it's "wet."  It's the ice that is not clear.  Cocktails that are made by not filling the glass full of ice will be diluted, because the amount of alcohol causes the ice to melt.  But more ice just keeps the alcohol cool... as ice.  Here is an interesting alcohol about ice.

So people kept asking me to dump out some of the ice.  My initial response is, "Haven't you watched Bar Rescue?"  Most looked at me weird and just beg for their drink.  But I even took the time to prove the theory by making two drinks side-by-side.  The one with less ice melted.  The one with full ice didn't melt and looked better.  But who am I to be right?

Then I would hear this comment:

"I can't taste any alcohol in this.  Can you put some more alcohol in my drink?"

My answer is always, "NO!"  Yes, there is alcohol in the drink.  And just because there's less ice doesn't mean that I'm going to make up for it with more alcohol.  For most of the people at the party that night, the reason why you couldn't taste the alcohol was because you were high on cocaine.

My favorite part of that night was when this short man came up to my bar.  He was dressed as an astronaut.  My ice bin was directly behind the counter ledge of my portable bar.  This guy had a lit cigarette and he kept waving it over my ice.  So I had to follow his cigarette around with my ice scoop like that scene from "16 Candles."  ..."Viola!  Breakfast is served."

Sure enough, he drops his cigarette in my ice.  I immediately grab it and throw it down on the ground.  Then this little man flips out.

"Why did you do that?"

"Your cigarette was in my ice," I told him.

"So!  Now I'm not going to tip you!" he yelled.

Then without missing a beat, everybody else in line pushed him aside and said, "I'll tip you."

Step aside little astronaut.  And no, you're not getting more alcohol or less ice.  

Until next time... Server's don't pay their rent with compliments.

"Bitter.  Party of 1?  Your table is ready."

The Bitter Bistro