Don’t You Get Tired of Pouring?

The other night, one of our regular guests asked me, “Don’t you get tired of pouring things?” which kind of amused me.

But it also reminded me, I never did a round up of the writeups I did for ‘Cocktail’ Boothby’s “Ten Commandments for Bartenders” a couple years ago.

So after working as a bartender 3 nights a week for the last 9 months or so, has it afforded me any added perspective for these ‘Commandments’?

Boothby’s Ten Commandments for Bartenders

I. Always be on time to relieve the other watch. It is a good plan to make a practice of arriving a few minutes early so as to arrange your toilet and step to your station on time.

I stand by everything I said in the previous post, but will also add, you should not only be on time, but also have eaten before your shift. Seems a little odd to say you should eat before going to work at a restaurant, but the fact of the matter is, if the restaurant is busy, you may not get to take your break until nearly close. There is nothing uglier than the freak out caused by a lot of caffeine and a little booze on an empty stomach.

II. See that your finger nails are always clean and your person presents a tidy appearance.

Nothing new to add here, bartending is a minor adjunct to the performing arts, your appearance and carriage is as important as your ability to make drinks.

III. Always appear pleasant and obliging under all circumstances.

When I arrived one night, my boss called me to say that the other person who normally worked couldn’t make it. I would be on my own for the course of the evening. His comment was, “You’ll probably go down in flames, but the most important thing is to go down in flames gracefully.” The ability to keep your composure and grace under just about any situation is one of the most important skills you need to develop as a bartender. If you lose that, you lose the people on the other side of the bar.

IV. Avoid conversations of a religious or political nature.

As a performer, you don’t always get to choose your own lines. Something I might say to my wife, or language I might use with my friends may not be appropriate, or may even be offensive, to some random person who has come in to the bar for a drink. Gauge your situation and choose your words carefully. As a bartender you are setting the tone for the room.

V. When going off watch always dry and polish all the glassware and tools which you have used on your watch, and see that everything is in its proper place, so that your relief can work to advantage as soon as he arrives at his post.

You are part of a team, even if you never see the person who works the next day. Show them the respect they deserve by doing your job completely.

VI. Sell all the liquor you can, but use as little as possible yourself.

Different bars have different rules and cultures regarding drinking on the job. In some states, it is even illegal to have drunk within hours of going to work, let alone on the job. In San Francisco, there is no such law, so we are left to make our own choices. One of my coworkers said, “I don’t like to drink while I’m working, it messes with my time management skills,” which totally makes sense to me. If you are serious about the job, you need to know your limits and stick to your own rules.

VII. If you are troubled with sore feet, bathe them regularly. Avoid patched or ragged hosiery, and wear a comfortable shoe with a heavy sole. Light soles, low cut shoes or slippers should never be worn behind a bar.

I’ve gone through a bunch of different shoe and sock choices since I wrote this up originally. The above still makes sense, you definitely need a shoe with good arch support and a non-slip sole to be on your feet for 8 hours a day several days a week. I’m currently wearing Red Wing 607 6″ Boots and Woolrich 10-Mile Over-The-Calf socks.

VIII. Keep the floor behind the bar as dry as possible. It not only looks better, but you will find your health greatly improved by following this rule. Many bartenders contract rheumatism, neuralgia and many other serious complaints through carelessness in this report.

As far as health goes, still not sure about the wet floor, but you do need to keep yourself flexible and in pretty decent shape to avoid injury. Lower Back, Shoulders, Elbows, and Wrists are definitely the pain points. Keep those muscles flexible and in shape.

IX. After using a bottle or tool always replace it before doing anything else. Make this a rule that should never be broken; and, when you are rushed with business, you will never be compelled to hunt for this or that, but you will always know just where it is.

I still don’t have much to add to Andrew Bohrer’s eloquent post, “Get your fucking mise in order!” Go read it again.

X. After a party has finished drinking, remove the glassware from the bar as soon as possible, and dry and polish the bar top immediately, never allowing a particle of moisture to remain. This is a very important rule.

Again, I don’t have much to add to my previous post, but this quote from Philip Duff sums up much of what I have learned in the last 6 months, “I love taking care of people in a way that goes beyond drinks.” ‘Nuff said.