Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I'm without a title

I bartend Monday nights now, which, not-so-coincidentally, is Industry night. So every Monday night all of my tips are going to a local charity. Everyone should come in for fancy cocktails, and all of you service industry cats who are coming in and getting hooked up, your cash is going to a good place...

For October, I'm giving all of my Monday night tips to the local YWCA. Given current events, I think that this is a great place to start.

Show up for a cocktail, throw some coins in the coffers. Drink for a good cause this time.

And thanks to Nate for returning the volley. This medium is important. Don't walk away now...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Assholes, Miscreants, and the Undesirable

Posted here because it's probably not the best on the posted on the bar blog...
Let's talk for a moment about 86ing people. This is something that I've never taken lightly as I have on more than many an occasion been that asshole, miscreant or undesirable in your bar (sorry Olympia and Capital Hill...if you were a bartender at one of the places and remember, then your next drink's on me).

More to the point since my days of brazenly drunken revelry are nearly over, I've only 86ed a few people from 1022 South. One because, after an obviously intoxicated woman lit a cigarette in the bar, I pulled her drink. The host of the party became quite angry and refused to pay a portion of their tab. So, that was that. I comped a portion of the tab and after the gentleman made a scene, I asked him to not return. The other far more interesting story was this evening. As I mentioned previously and in other places, we were busy tonight. We didn't set any records, but I was deep in orders for a while tonight (which, incidentally, makes me obsess about my mise en place, foot and handwork, and the general efficiency of my station). Get around to the end of the night where the bar's mas o menos emptied out except for a few regulars and locals. I pull drinks a few minutes before 2am and I go to the patio to pull the chairs in. One of the locals who I have a long history with (she's been trouble in multiple establishments) is shit-faced and decides to wander behind the bar. Not because she's curious, not because she's confused, but because she spies a beer on the back bar. I hear her say that she is going to go for it. I tell her in no uncertain terms that she can't go behind the bar as I stand in the doorway. She starts to shift and shuffle behind the bar while grasping desperately for the beer. Her drinking companion is trying to get her to leave to no avail. As she gets her hands on the beer and begins to drink, I've made my way across the bar and I take it from her. Before she got to the beer, as I was moving across the bar, I let her know that if she did continue and if she did drink the beer that I would 86 her. She continued, I took the beer after a single drink, then I let her know that she's not welcome back.

That transgression and a mouthful of beer rids 1022 of a person who has given me endless grief as a bartender at multiple establishments. Small fare for something that will pay off in the long run. I've wrestled with 86ing people, but this time is was clear and definite. I don't want my staff dealing with anything like this. Drunk people shuffling behind the bar to consume whatever open containers they can find is a great way to get shut down. And, it's awkward. And, unprofessional. And, it's gross. Sit on your barstool. Enjoy your cocktail. Then, when it's that time, go home. Don't shuffle behind the bar looking for one last sip. If that's how you gotta roll, then I'll happily introduce you to this fellow Bill W. His friends meet around the corner from us. You can work the rest out there.

For a little bit of levity

Things get pretty heavy here from time to time, so I thought I'd post something that both made me smile and reminded me of one of the few reasons why I like sports. Take a listen to the two links on Shannon Drayer's blog. Before you sigh and click away, give it a listen. Giggles are always fun.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

My eye is twitching,,,

Why aren't we talking about what we need to do? What are we waiting for? Jen? Nate? I'm looking at you. Food, guns, first aid. Let's figure something out. The time is now. Rain barrels, water filtration, using grey water, growing high calorie crops in small spaces. Did I mention guns? Did I mention fishing? Seriously. No excuses. You both make more money than I do and I work more than both of you. Let's make this shit happen asap.

We are all guilty

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. - HWT, mister Thoreau for those not keeping score.
All that is necessary for the evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. - probably misattributed to Edmund Burke, something of a badass.

We have a lot of work to do. And, base on the last few posts, I have some explaining to do...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Falling Down

I'm an angry person. Not in a marketable, sexy kinda way. I'm angry in the kinda way where when I start to let go the polite facade slips (see last post) and I'm no good in front of anyone. Like, not only am I no good in mixed company, I am no good in company. I am no good venting in front of "people who would understand." Because really, I'm that guy. I've always been. I remember my first girlfriend explaining that she broke up with me because I'm "angry with rocks." Yeah, a very insightful young lady saw to the heart of things. I'm bitter and angry. Like I want to, not yell, but spit, nigger, faggot, cunt. I want to burn down houses of the privileged middle class. Like everything in the north end. I want to send my neighbors to work camps to make techo-fetishists gadgets that I can by from the pawnshop after their families pawn them for taco bell coupons. I'm filled with an explicable amount of hate and rage. This is my caveat.

I was half in the bag when I got home tonight (shocking) when I decided to cook and listen to AM radio. Coast to Coast to be exact. They had some nonsense segment about the Ouija boards that got me thinking, free associating really, about mistakes that me make. And this leads me to this:
We excuse you men and women for entering the military when they are young and impressionable. Whatever excuses we use (poor families, lack of options, blah blah blah), we are comfortable using them for military service but not for other choices. Now, (another caveat) some of the people in my life who I care about most are ex-military. These people are the kindest, smartest people I've ever had the privilege to meet. Ok, so all of this being said, and here's where I went from Ouija boards, if someone is young and they make the mistake to join the military where they are obligated to kill poor, sometimes defenseless people a world away if ordered, then we forgive them. Because, you know, they did it for our country. Or they were cajoled, indoctrinated, or they didn't think they had any other options. Or whatever.

Now, if some dood is half (or entirely) wasted at a frat party and he fucks a passed out girl, do we forgive him? Or if he commits any of the other myriad versions of rape that occur, do we forgive him? What if he does it again? And again? what if he's an alcoholic and it only happens when he drinks? What if it happens enough that he gets the moniker "Date Rape..."? What if, what if, what if...

What if he feels like he doesn't have any options and he joins the service? What if he drops bombs on an Afghan village in pursuit of a terrorist? Google Afghan village, btw.

Moreover, so say we know someone who raped someone or who killed someone. What if he killed someone we know? What if he assaulted someone we know? It's so easy for us to quote Derrick Jensen, who is being fed peanut butter sandwiches from his mother while he pounds out jeremiads on keyboards manufactured by Korean children, while we go to rallies or tour the pre-industrial world on vacations that are exploications.

I'm so close to saying something that I can't take back. I'm that pissed. And not just at you. At me. Because when I go to sleep I don't see all of the shit I don't like about you. All of your selling out or buying in or hypocrisy or sophistry goes away. Because we're family and I love you. What doesn't go away is everything I've done or abide by; is everything that I've sanctioned by silence.

The best of us fail. And the best of us are guilty. What I wonder everyday is where that leaves us.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Customer service

I think about proper etiquette quite a bit. Those that know me know that I'm a sucker for social graces. These are the common courtesies that you give to people. Your greet them. You thank them. You are generally polite. It's been said about me (quite a bit...) that I'm not very nice, but I am very polite. Maybe this is why I've found myself where I am at professionally...

What I am interested in is the common courtesy due to the guests and the bartender in a bar. I had a moment this evening where I failed at my job. A young lady and her friend came in just as I was starting to get busy. Orders for craft cocktails are starting to stack up as we are making exchanging pleasantries. One on the the drink orders coming in, I politely asked for their ID's (people can name-drop common acquaintances or remark about how many times I've seen their ID's before, I don't care. It's my job. And. And! When the LCB did their sting at 1022 South, the young man looked just like all of the rest of you who are younger than a Joy Division album.) So, she gave me a bit of grief about carding her again and this and that while drinks are piling up. I'm trying to be be polite, talk to them about the bar, and figure out the most efficient way to build all of these drinks. Then after she finally shows her ID, which for her was a heartbeat but seemed like an hour, she started describing the “martini' that she wanted.

“ We want vodka martinis.”

No big deal. Throw some vodka martinis in the queue and I'll bang those out as soon as I can. But, I have to ask.

“How do you like those martinis?” Continue drink orders backlogging.

“Oh, well, do you have basil back there?”

Here is where I failed as a bartender. The gears in my head seized and I became that asshole. My response was totally inappropriate.

“No, I don't have any basil (anymore). So, you don't want a martini, you want a cocktail in a martini glass?”

Hem and haw, gibber jaw and nonsense ending with, “No, we want martinis.”

So, instead of being gracious and whipping something up, I obfuscated their order as my rail began to fill with drink orders. Not intentionally, mind you, I really wanted to figure out what they were looking for. I want every drink that I pass across the bar to amaze and/or mystify (it is Tacoma...) all of my guests. I want everyone to say something to the effect of, “This is my new favorite drink,” or for them to stop mid-conversation and ask me what they are drinking. Before you think I am insane, I've talked to cooks who work in open kitchens who've echoed the same sentiment. All of this being said, I'm not intentionally being an obnoxious prick when I was equivocating over what a martini is or is not. Finally, they agreed to try the special of the night (substituting vodka for tequila).

    1. el Jimador reposado

1 orange juice

.5 raw ginger simple syrup

2 dashes kava kava

2 dashes Regan's orange bitters

1 serrano wheel

dash of cayenne

Shake and strain into cocktail glass half rimmed with Himalayan sea salt.

Real basic but with enough “stuff” going on to keep a casual drinker interested. By the time they agreed to this drink I was in the weeds. They had irritated me, so they weren't getting bumped forward in the queue, so they had to wait. It took probably 15 minutes to dig myself out after they finally decided. As I set up to make their drinks, after letting them know that they were next, the lady looks at her watch and they leave.

That's it. They walk out. The worst part is that I don't blame them.

Now, let's be clear. The type of thing we do, sometimes cocktails take a bit. I believe that artisanal work takes time. However, if I'd been more gracious initially, then they would've been less likely to leave. They were obnoxious, but I screwed up.

So, here we are. Next time they come in their first round is on me. Luckily, this time there's a mutual acquaintance so I can get in touch.

Caveats and rubrics out of the way, let's talk about customer etiquette for a moment. I don't want to get into the broader scope of how you comport yourself in public, how you treat people in the service industry, or any of that at the moment. I just want to talk about proper etiquette when dealing with servers and bartenders.

Get off your cell phone. Or go outside. Prepare to not be served if you're being that guy or gal. A friend once told me story about when she was working and an Italian restaurant in Seattle. She went to the table with multiple guests repeatedly and one girl wouldn't get off her cell phone. Eventually my friend took everyone's order but her as she continued to jibber jabber away. Finally, after the orders were put in, she got off her phone and became indignant. She asked when she could order. My friend cloyingly replied that she thought that the guest was going to call her order in.

We are not objects, sexual or otherwise. Don't treat us like such. I hear about how female servers and bartenders are treated and I am ashamed. You don't talk to me that way. You don't talk to my staff that way in front of me. Aren't you a little embarrassed? If not, then you should be.

Speaking of objects, while we are in the service industry, we are also in a trade. Be polite. Recognize us as we come to the table. We only want to facilitate your experience. We don't want attention for the sake of itself. We want you to have a good experience. It's difficult for us to do that when you won't acknowledge us.

If we are busy, then, trust me, we're sorry. The joint may not look busy to you, but we may have someone two tables over arguing about what a martini or a puttanesca is. If we are not gracious and respectful (this includes not making excuses for tardy service), then be angry. But if we are, cut us some slack. Please. Trust me, we'll make it worth your while.

The experience of going out is reciprocal. We take care of each other and it is predicated upon us being polite and facilitating your experience. In return, we simply ask that you be polite.

(Apologies for the cross-post at the 1022 blog)

Monday, September 7, 2009

And speaking of the madness, here's one for the road...

Akimbo record release at the Comet. So near the end...


I have to stop. Or I have to slow down. Or I need someone or something to mitigate this. I am sitting here at 4 am obsessing about the industry. I've spent hours reading about how people make their bitters. I think about doing concept menus based on Velvet Underground records. I obsess about concepts and perfection in a world where I know, I know, it is unattainable. I'm half in the bag reading other people's resumes. I work a slow week and it clocks in around 60 hours. I eat, sleep, and breathe it. I am afraid that I am Ahab. What then?