Halloween '06

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Friday night I had a dog get together. A long time reader of my site emailed about getting Layla and her two Bernese Mountain Dogs together (Desi and Callie). They came over and our apartment became a puppy playground, with a 8 pound cocker spaniel trying to hold her own with a very large puppy (Desi). Callie was a 3 year old, and of an even keel temperment. She just watched Layla and Desi play most of the time.

While the puppy play time went on, Kristen and I carved some pumpkins. I should have pics up later this week of our latest creations. They are similar to what we carved 2 years ago.

Saturday was another year of bartending a Halloween party.

I'm a bit put out. I had a costume ordered (SWAT team outfit) and ready to-go, but it never got to my house on time. I wasn't about to rush around trying to find a costume for Saturday night, so I bartended in my regular clothes. Francia, as you can see next to me, got into the spirit of things with her school girl outfit. For the record I was trying to look like the tough guy "Zoolander" poses they do on NJguido.com. I think I looked like a pseudo-Baldwin brother. Pic courtesy of Hoboken411.com.

It was a good night. But I have to talk, once again, about how customers can annoy bartenders. Yes, it has been written here before, but maybe it is time for a refresher course with an example.

A customer order a Irish Car Bomb shot. For those who don't know, it is a half filled glass of Guinness that is combined with a shot glass with 1/2 Jameison and 1/2 Bailey's. Drop in glass and chug.

To give you the setting, the bar is packed. I'm very very busy making drinks and a car bomb is a bit of a chore (when compared to "easier" stuff like grabbing a beer or making a mixed drink). I'm making the drink and filling up the shot glass and run out of Jameison. It is about 1/3 filled. I shout to my barback for another Jameison. I fill up the shot glass with Bailey's and serve the customer his drink.

He curiously looks at the shot glass and slurs, "Ish ther enny Jameishun in thar?"

He didn't slur that badly, but I knew it was coming before he said it.

It is busy. Other customers are giving me the "LOOK". All bartenders can see you, on the corners of our eyes, staring at us with that pleading "I need a drink NOW" look. I usually try not to look around, because once you make eye contact with someone - you're fucked. They try to order/yell something to you and you have to be like "OK, in a second."

I'm still waiting for the barback and I ring up this guy's shot. I grab the Jameison. Now the shot glass is already filled. I overfill it with some Jameison, some of it spilling on to the bar in my haste, and the drunk is content now that he got his extra 18% of Irish Wiskey.

I dunno, it was just annoying to me. I mean did this guy REALLY need that extra bit of whiskey? I just can't stand people who are like that. I'm sure he is the same kind of guy who goes to the restaurant with friends and inspects the bill, "James, you had the cracked crab appetizer and owe an extra $10", instead of just splitting the bill down the middle.

Annoyance #2, and I have written about things like this before, are customers who insist on getting my attention when it is clear that i'm busy.

If you walk into a bar, filled with people, and see a bartender filling a beer, making a drink or working the register - there is no real need to interrupt what they are doing to get your order in. We see you. We know you want a drink. We want to serve you as fast as we can because more drinks = more tips for us. But don't stop me with any of the following manuvers:

1. Tapping your glass on the bar.
2. Snapping your fingers or whistling at me.
3. Saying "Sean! Sean! Sean!" - especially if you don't know me and just heard someone else use my name and now you think you can call me by name to get my attention. Also included is "Hey!" or "Buddy!" or "Dude!".
4. Waving money in the air frantically.

I queue people up mentally when they approach the bar. I see who has been waiting longer, even if I don't make eye contact, I know you have been there. Also people who tip well or are good customers (either by patronage or pleasantries) might get served faster than rude ones. Just a thought. You know the old saying, "You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar."

Also don't waste a bartender's time when the bar is clearly busy. You basically should already know how much a beer in Hoboken is going to cost ($4-6), so if you walk up and order 2 beers - have at least a $20 ready. Don't order it, wait for us to get the beer and they give me a look like you are deer caught in headlights when I say, "8 dollars". Then you look around, check your wallet, go into your purse or do anything other than producing money or a credit card quickly.

Speak clearly and look at us when ordering. I actually don't really hear what a customer says, I just read their lips because the music can get loud. When someone orders I repeat back to them what they said. Someone ordered a "Gimlet" but didn't look at me and I said to them "Yuengling", they nodded. I brought the beer and then they laughed, said "Gimlet!" and added, "It is Vodka with lime juice". That's annoying, especially that I repeated your order and you should have corrected me.

Also when it is busy - seriously think about what you are ordering for our sakes sometimes. Far too often I get the 21 year old kids who order dumb shots that I never heard of when it is busy. Everyone is trying to get my attention and the 21 year old guys want 5 shots of "Caramel Apple Pie Shots!". Guys, just have Cuervo, please. And no salt or limes, BE A MAN. Christ.

If the bar is PACKED, have a half ounce of compassion for the people serving you. Remember we are serving you, not slaves. I think people who never worked in the service industry forget this rule. Bartenders are there to serve everyone in the bar, not just you. If you waste a bartender's time then you are wasting everyone's time, too.

Conversely, I get to see how bartenders treat customers all the time, since I also go to bars. If a bar is busy and a bartender is chatting someone up or working S L O W - that gets me riled up. I remember I was out a few weeks ago and did my tried-and-true technique of holding out my money while waiting for a bartender. The bar was moderately busy, and I was ignored for a solid 10 minutes while others around me got served. I'm waiting and feeling my anger level rising and want to say something snippy. The bartender just keeps serving others. I finally said "Hey!" and broke my rule to get her attention. She looked at me dryly and i'm sure she wasn't happy that I interrupted her. I said, "When you have a chance." I got served next. I still left a good tip.

As much as I sit there and get annoyed by certain customers, I don't think all bartenders are above reproach. There are some bad bartenders in Hoboken, too. Just remember that certain consideration should come into play when it is busy.

And finally, I don't understand why people come to a bar sober. Really. What ever happened to pre-gaming? Before I used to go out, back in my day, my friends and I would have a few drinks at home and then go out. So much cheaper that way. I'd at least have 2-3 beers/mixed drinks/shots before heading to the bars. Just my thought.

Oh, one last thought. Is it me or are the demographics of Hoboken changing? 10 years ago it was the 20-something frat boy types (oh, they are still around) who drank to excess every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Now it seems that the crowds are older and there really aren't that many local Hobokenites drinking as much. The 20-somethings are getting replaced by older couples & 30-somethings who can afford 300-500k condos. They still drink - but are done by midnight after a meal with other couples. Maybe it's just me, but it seems that the town is changing into something out of a Land's End catalogue (for better or worse).

Don't get me wrong, there are still plenty of alcoholics to go around. But many of them are from outside of Hoboken, and very much frequent the more lounge-oriented places like Nine, Trinity, Lua, Lounge 11 and Lana. The PATH bars will always be packed on the weekends. But I have walked by other pubs and bars on a Friday night, when back in the day they were jumpin', and its like a ghost town. It isn't just one bar in particular, but lots of places that seem like they don't get the large drinking crowds like they used to. What do you think?

3 Comments

Nice pic! Where'd ya get it? :)

I moved to hoboken last year and have been reading your blog off and on over the year. I agree with your assessments of bar etiquitte and culture. I am a die hard Giants fan however. Maybe I'll stop by and get a drink at your bar one of these days...

You should probably also mention not to annoy your friend the bartender by bitching about the selection of music and the loudness of it. ;) I don't know WHO would EVER do that trashed. :)


I thought you took REALLY good care of your side of the bar. People never had empty glasses and everyone seemed to have fun.

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This page contains a single entry by Furey published on October 30, 2006 12:21 AM.

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