Ah. The life of a bartender. It’s glamorous, isn’t it? Well, that’s what we thought until we decided to take a closer look as we rounded up the top 10 bartenders who won through reader voting; and, asked them “What would you really like your customers to know?” And here’s what they said.
It’s a job that requires endless patience, good memory, great sense of humor and always a smile. Every shift is like an unpredictable roller coaster ride.
Shhh. No need to start screaming drink orders before we even get to you.
“I am ready to take your order when I ask, “what can I get you?” No need to yell out your order. Chances are, I’m not even listening to you yet because I’m busy helping that other thirsty sardine. And while you’re screaming your order at me, “I’m in the middle of keeping other thirsty sardines’ list of drinks in my head, while adding them up, keeping an on the room, looking to see who’s coming in the door, who’s coming up to the bar- in what order, and so on. So, when you yell your drink at me, and I lose focus on the 10 other multitasking things I’m doing, I’ll then need to go back and confirm what I was making, which just makes everyone in the room wait longer. Including you.”
The “hmmm” syndrome.
“If you’ve been waiting to get a drink at the bar, start thinking about what drink you would like before we take your order. When we finally get to you, and you say “Hmm, what do I want?”, yes, we roll our eyes. Why? Again, there are 50 other thirsty sardines waiting to place their order. Don’t hold up the line.”
We are not psychics when it comes to your drink order.
“I am here to help you find and make the drink you want, absolutely, but I am not a mind reader. When you ask us “What’s good?” or “What do you suggest?”, that’s just way too vague. Please give us guidance on your personal tastes or else we have to do the “Were you thinking beer, wine or cocktail?
For the love of God, please tip.
“Sure, some non-alcoholic drinks are free at some bars. Or free refills. However, if you’re going to ask for a Shirley temple, extra Shirley, with a little bit of orange juice, with a cherry garnish, in a bigger cup, complain that I put too much ice, make a mess and get ready to walk away, please don’t forget to tip. We don’t just make your drinks; but, we also keep the place clean, and will do our best to enable you to have a nice night. We will do so by being nice and polite, so show us your appreciation!”
I’m not your sweetheart.
“Unless you’re my husband or significant other. Yes, I’m a woman (or even a fellow!) tending bar, but that doesn’t mean I am your sweetheart, honey, or babe. Still, I owe you at least a plastered-on smile for the duration of my shift. Yes, I am in the customer service industry; so, yes, we do our very best to smile all day. But sometimes, I’ve had a rough day also; and, giggling at your not-so-funny joke, that I’ve heard for the umpteenth time, doesn’t always make me laugh. Keep the jokes at home. We’ve heard them all.”
Yes. We see you.
“It’s my job to notice you; if you can’t catch my eye, it is not because I don’t see you. It is because the bar is crowded like a thirsty sardine, and everyone has their dollar waving in the air. Make eye contact and smile. Please don’t clear your throat at me, or yell. I know you’re there; and, promise I will get to you as soon as I can.”
If we don’t see you, it’s our fault, not yours.
“You shouldn’t need to snap your fingers, bang on the bar, yell “hey” to get my attention. If you’re waiting at the bar longer than 10 minutes without being acknowledged, your bartender sucks and you should try a different establishment.”
If we have time, by all means, linger and chat.
“As long as we’re not slammed, I love for you to stay and talk. It’s one of the best parts of being a bartender and being able to share conversation with our patrons. But please respect the rest of the patrons waiting on their drink. When we are busy, that is not the time to tell us about your day, your weekend or the vacation you just got back from. Come during a slow time to show us those vacation pictures. We’d love to see them. But during a busy time, we don’t really have time to look. We care about helping the next customer because our income is based on how fast we can get service to the next ‘sardine.’
Respect the last call.
“We are so glad we did our job so well that at the end of the night, you don’t want to go home. But please remember, while you have been drinking and having fun all night, I’m finishing up a 10 – 12hour shift (most likely), my feet feel like a soggy SpongeBob Square Pants because they are soaked with sweat and spilled drinks, I’m still sober, and either I’m ready to have a drink myself, or go home and simply crash. The last call means just that. We are ready to clean up and go home. Respect that we also want to finish out our evening somehow/somewhere.”
We hate having to cut you off. But we will.
“It’s the worst part of our job; but, we have no problem doing it. If your friend has had too much to drink, please do the right thing and encourage them to slow down or go home (not drive of course). Begging after you’ve been cut off does not work. It’s not our fault you drank too much, too fast. But your, and everyone else’s safety, is our main concern. Drink responsibly, or we will cut you off.”
“The job is tough. But we love it. Every night is a different night. You never know what events will unfold. But we do it because we love it. We love our patrons. Our regulars become like family to us. Sure, we have moments when we mess up, and times that I wish I would have kicked people out of my bar and did not. But it teaches us to think on our feet and most the time it’s pretty flipping fun.”
So, come on in. Say hello to the fine folks here. Get yourself a drink. And when the bartender is not busy, introduce yourself. We all love getting to know new people.
While the Top 10 Bartenders featured certainly deserve their mention, let’s not forget the other notable bar tenders that work just as hard. Don’t forget to stop in and say hello to these folks also.
Breanna Jew-d – Applebee’s – Johnson City
Beth Helbert – Holy Taco
Michael Bell – East Coast Wings – Johnson City
Jennier Hale – Poblano’s
Lisa Smith – Stone Drive Eagles
Adrian Hall – East Coast Wings – Kingsport
Emmet Smith – Wild Wing Café
Mike Farthing – East Coast Wings
Paula Dugger – Rainbow Asian Cuisine
Summer Jade Coleman – Country Club Bar & Grill
Todd Nickels – Pappas & Beer
Helen Christian – Stone Drive Eagles
Eric Gray – Applebee’s – Kingsport
Magus Vaugh – The Willow Tree Coffeehouse & Music Room
Harmony Glazier – Acoustic Coffeehouse
Denzell Boyd – East Coast Wings
Heather Speers – Kingsport Moose
Kim Ray – Stone Drive Eagles
Nikki Woliver – Buffalo Wild Wings – Kingsport
Jonathan Taylor – Sleepy Owl Brewery
Ben Lolli – Acoustic Ale House
Donna Davidson – Kingsport Moose Lodge
Bud – Café One 11
David Gooden – Giusseppe’s
Helen Rutledge – Kingsport Moose Lodge
Phil – Southern Craft
Nikki Kerns – Stone Drive Eagles
Javier Martinez – El Charolais
Micky Gray – Peerless
Erin Smith – Rush Street
Rachelle Bates – Chop House
Josh Price – Stir Fry Café
Robbie Hatley – Wild Wing Café
Todd Kilbourn – Gourmet & Company
Ashton Braden – Tipton Street Pub
Hannah Shipley – The Well Stocked Bar
Hannah Brummit – Sonny’s Café
Phil Lecklikner – Tipton Street Pub
Chandler Meade- Applebee’s – Kingsport
Michael Langrel – Macado’s – Kingsport
Heather Atkins – Stir Fry Café
Brianna Gorsky – Holy Taco
Steven Helmbrecht – Numans
Shannon Matney – Holston River Brewing Company
2016 Best Bartender winners:
Jennifer Hale – Poblano’s
Rainia Winegar – Biggie’s
Randy Ashens – Biggie’s
Eric Gray – Applebee’s – Kingsport
Javier “mikey” Martinez – El Charolais
Michael Bell – East Coast Wings