Bartending, Part III


Continued from Part II . . .

Part III


Have never quite figured this out, but Bartenders have this mystical messianic aura about them. Bar people THINK bartenders 1) know everything about everything, and 2) are good looking, even if, in reality, they are ugly. In the image that people have created in their minds, bartenders are people that you would want to have stranded with you on a desert island because they would know how to make fire, get water and food, and build a shelter. They would always win “Survivor”. They are the ultimate alpha-male (or female, depending on the case).

[B]But this bartender worship cult can only be found in the “bar people” subculture. In business and industry, bartenders are about one notch above pond scum.[/B]

I did an informal experiment (very unscientific) on this bartender hero stuff when I was a bartender and wondered about it. On one of my days off, I went to a few bars in another town, where people wouldn’t recognize me as a bartender. Women there hardly gave me a second glance, much less talk to me. But back in my own town, where I was recognized as a bartender, and in my own bar, I could hardly keep the women from gushing all over me. I looked the same in both the out-of-town places and locally, but the difference was that locally, I was known as a . . . BARTENDER.

When I would close the bar, there would frequently be several women sitting at the bar and waiting for me. In fact, one time I remember that there was an older gal (probably in her 60’s - at least 30 years older than me at the time - and she was remarkably well preserved and attractive for that age) who sat at the bar all evening and stared at me. When it came time to close, she was the only one left - and still staring at me. She said something like, “I’d like to take you home with me”. Clearly, she was putting a move on me.

So I politely told her that I was closing and that she would have to leave. She said she would wait for me down in the hotel lobby. About 15 minutes later, I asked my Cocktail Waitress to go down to the lobby and see if she was still there, not to say anything to her if she was, and come back to the bar and report. The Cocktail Waitress came back and said, “Yup, she’s waiting for you, so now what are you going to do??” I decided that I would stall a while longer and stay in the bar. About a half an hour later, I sent the waitress down there again, and the old gal was STILL waiting for me. So I decided to stall some more. After about an hour or so, the old gal was finally gone. When I left and went out to the parking lot to get into my car, at about 3AM, I had the eerie feeling that some old gal stalker was going to leap out of the bushes and stab me. Of course, nothing happened, and I never saw the old gal again.

To this day, I still wonder whatever happened to her, and now feel kind of sorry for the lonely old gal. I’ve always wondered what somebody as old as that, and somebody as attractive for that age, was doing alone in a bar . . .


One night I witnessed a bar fight. I was working the “Western Bar” in the hotel, and it had swinging double doors, an appropriate backdrop for the scene.

There were some visiting Irish tourists in the bar, along with a group of (fake) cowboys, with the usual rhinestone shirts on. The Irish folks thought the “cowboys” were real, were fascinated with them and the bull stories they slung, and the double doors and the Western Bar decor contributed to the fascination. The Irish folks invited the cowboys to come sit at their table, so the cowboys moved their table over to the Irish folks and about a dozen or more cowboys and Irish folks sat at the joined tables.

As the evening wore on, the Irish folks drank heavier and the cowboys did the same. The cowboys took advantage of their perceived celebrity because the Irish folks bought all their drinks throughout the night. I could see that they all were getting toasted.

Eventually, toward closing time, I heard their voices getting louder, and it soon became apparent that they were arguing and things were getting nasty - I had no idea what the argument was about.

When I turned around to look at them, I saw a cowboy and an Irish guy standing up and grappling and punching at one another. The gal that the Irish guy was with (his wife, I presumed) got up and tried to break the fight up by restraining her husband. In that effort, though, the wife held her husband’s arms so that she enabled the cowboy to haul off and slug the guy right in the chops.

At that point, the rest of the Irishman and cowboys got into the fray, and the whole scene looked like one of those cartoon fights where all you see is arms flailing and shoes and legs up in the air and star images. The mass of entangled people migrated to the double doors, slammed through them (right out of a Western movie), out into the hallway, down to the lobby, and on out into the parking lot.

At first I was going to try and break it up when they were in the bar (having seen the wife hold the Irishman husband in a similar attempt to break it up and then seeing that her hold enabled the cowboy to slug the Irish guy, I wasn’t sure how I was going to go about breaking it up), but by the time I was headed toward them and making a plan, they crashed through the double doors and down the hallway. It all happened so fast that all I could do was send our old security guard after them. I don’t know if he ever caught up with them, but he came back to the bar and said, “Last I saw them they were in the parking lot”.


I remember two fire incidents in the bar where I worked. One involved a drink and one involved the sprinkler system.

First, the drink. A guy came in the bar and ordered a “Harbor Lights”. That’s a drink served in a pony glass where you 'float" (pour gently and slowly on top of the base booze, which for a Harbor Lights is Galliano) Bacardi 151 Rum and light it.

A hundred and fifty-one proof Rum burns and gives off a dim blue flame, barely visible. I lit the Rum and placed the drink in front of the guy. He had a beard.

He downed the drink in one swift motion, holding the rim of the glass to his lips and throwing his head back all at one time. (That’s pretty much the way you have to drink Bacardi 151, because it burns if you sip it).

But shortly after he drank it all in one big gulp, I noticed that his beard was . . . smoking!!!

Some of the lit Bacardi 151 had dripped down to his beard as he tossed the glass up.

I was about to douse him with water from the bar gun, but he had felt the heat of his beard being on fire, and he pounded it out quickly with both hands.

Then there was the time there was a fire in the restaurant kitchen (which is adjacent to the Western Bar, where I was working at the time).

We had a group from the Lions Club in that night, and one of the members was a guy named MacDonald - we all called him “Mac”, of course (I don’t know that I ever heard him called by his real first name - which I never knew anyway).

Mac was a nice old fellow but he was also a non-stop talker. That night he was sitting at the bar, talking away to anybody that would listen.

When the kitchen caught fire (a small fire, and I think it was some kind of food heating on the gas burner stove), the sprinkler system went off. Unfortunately, the sprinkler system in the bar went off too (I guess the kitchen and bar sprinkler systems were all piped together as one). But it wasn’t water that it sprayed, but rather something like Carbon Dioxide. Whatever chemical it was, it came out as a white powder-like substance.

And it really spit this stuff out, so much so that within seconds the whole bar top was white with it.

And so was Mac!! He was covered in white powder from the sprinkler.

Everybody else was running out of the bar, the alarm claxon was sounding . . . and Mac was still sitting at the bar, covered in white powder, but still talking away as if nothing was happening.

He had a handlebar mustache, and I can still picture his face and mustache all covered in white powder, but Mac still talking away and apparently oblivious to the entire situation.

He was certainly a colorful character (and a big tipper too!!)


Around 1985 or so, I decided I’d had enough of the bartending aggravation, so I quit. Actually, I quit a few times before then, but I always came back. But that last time I was done for good. Besides, it was supplemental income anyway . . . I had a regular day job.

I use the word “aggravation” because in the last year or so I was always in a bad mood behind the bar. And a bartender in a bad mood is always a temptation to customers to “aggravate” even more. If you’re in a good mood, they always want to talk. But if you’re in a bad mood, they seem to want to talk more. And since you’re a captive audience of one, you can’t get away. When you’re in a bad mood, you don’t want to talk and you certainly don’t want to listen. But as a bartender, you’re a listener “on demand”, whether or not you feel like listening.

So I had had enough. I wanted the freedom to be in a good or bad mood while on the job. Bartending is not the right kind of job for that.



Very interesting, Bob. I had a girlfriend who was a bartender and she was pretty good at it–like you. And, you’re right about the bartender always seeming irresistible. There’s just something about a man holding a bottle of booze that seems to enthrall many women! I’m not one of them…I’m a “uniform” kinda gal. Now, if you were in your military uniform…and it doesn’t matter if it is dress uniform or fatigues (is that the correct term?), and behind the bar, I’m yours. Again, great writing, Bob!


Excellent blog posts, Bob. These type of life experiences are simply fascinating to me. Thank you for posting them.


Part III, like Part I and II, was super good reading, Mr. Ernest. :cool:

Seriously, Ernest never wrote anything more interesting or any better than Bartending Part I, II, and III.

I’ve read Ernest! … :freaked: … So I know!

As I was reading Part I, II, and III, I kept thinking of Billy Joel’s [I]Piano Man[/I], so I thought, “Why not?” … so here
she is:

Here is the url in case the embed is ever disabled:
Billy Joel - Piano Man - YouTube

[I]Piano Man[/I] is certainly not inharmonious with …/grin … Ernest’s [I]Bartending [/I] and I always liked this song anyway.
Especially this rendition. (Billy was in his prime when he strained this out.)

Very good writing. The Inklings would be proud, Ernest.

(Re Ernest: Yeah yeah, I know I know its enough of the “Ernest thingy” … lol … ~but told the truth, I did~) :cool:




Coupla’ things.

First on your question about “fatigues”. Yes, some branches call them that, and other branches call them “utilities”. I think, though my memory is pretty foggy and I could have this wrong, we called them “utilities” in the Marine Corps.

There were other terms that were unique to a branch. For example, one branch would call it “AWOL”, meaning “Away Without Leave”. Other branches called it “UA” . . . “Unauthorized Absence”.

And then there was temporary duty. Some branches called it “TAD” . . . pronouncing the letters separately, as in “T”-“A”-“D”, and meaning “Temporarly Assigned Duty”. Then there was “TDY” again letters pronounced separately “T”-“D”-“Y”. And that was just straight “Temporary Duty”.

I think we in the Marine Corps used “AWOL” and maybe “TAD” . . . again, not sure.

About your comment on “good bartenders”. IMO a good bartender is one who can get the drinks out efficiently and quickly without knocking things over or being spastic him/herself.

We had a Philippino kid who was obsessed with being fast. He always wore a tie. In one quick motion he’d pour the drinks and then whip around to the cash register and ring up the ticket, slam the register door shut, and then turn around again and throw it back on the cocktail waitress’s tray. Looked pretty slick.

Except one time when he slammed the register door closed, HIS TIE GOT CAUGHT IN IT. He started to wheel around, and the tie-stuck-in-the-drawer yanked him off his feet like a hangman’s noose.

Not so slick.



On that video . . . coupla’ comments.

First, I never had paid attention to the lyrics. This time, along with the example of the video, I DID. Never realized it was so appropriate.

At the Inn, we had two bars, the Blossom Bar and the western Bar, and I worked them both. Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday nights in the Western Bar, Wednesday off, and Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights in the Blossom Bar.

The Western Bar was smaller, but we had entertainment in both bars. The Blossom Bar was the main bar, next to the apple tree grove, so appropriately named, was huge, and had a full band.

The Western Bar just had a Country Western singer strolling around with a guitar. I remember his name was Glen (we called him “Greasy Glen”) and he drank shots of Crown Royal. The sign when he was toasted was when he switched to shots of Kahlua.

The activity and the large crowds in that video are accurate . . . or at least that’s how our bars were on Friday and Saturday nights.

We had a regular that resembled the “old man making love to his tonic & gin.” I think his name was Louie, and we called him “Louie”, not “Lou”. Louie struck a pathetic pose, one that made you feel more sorry for him then contemptuous. Plus, Louie had been a resident in a state hospital, a loony bin, and I don’t think they cured him before they released him.

All the cocktail waitresses mothered him and fussed over him and Louie liked it (who wouldn’t?)

As in the song, Louie was “sad and sweet.”

Louie was by no means an alcoholic or a heavy drinker, and I don’t think he could have afforded the habit anyway. He was pretty poor. And, as you would imagine, he was not a big tipper.

In fact, he nursed ONE drink the whole night long. By the end of the night all his ice cubes had long since melted away.

The scene of the patrons waving their arms and drinks was accurate . . . we especially had that with Greasy Glen in the Western Bar.

A heavyset bartender like “John” in the video is NOT accurate . . . at least I never saw any. Bartenders are usually skinny, being alcoholics and all.

Yes, though, like “John”, bartenders are a library of jokes. You hear them from patrons all the time, and then usually intro the retelling with, “Have you heard this one? . . .”

An essential tool of a bartender is a lighter. The video was accurate in that regard. NOBODY has to light there own cigarette in a bar . . . cocktail waitresses have them and do it too.

When “John” turns around and looks in the mirror with a sad look . . . as far as I saw, that was NOT accurate. Bartenders ALWAYS have their game face on, facing the patrons or not.

Bartenders always think they’re going to be “discovered” by a casting director, so that part’s accurate.

There WERE plenty of real estate people in the bar every night, but I don’t remember seeing anybody in a military uniform.

The waitresses were NOT portrayed accurately, except maybe for the revealing outfits. They were friendly with the customers, but if anybody tried to cop a feel, the gals would handle them sternly, and once was all they tried. The gals were wise, and knew how to keep order, and how to keep even drunk patrons in line. One look from Greta in that Teutonic warlike threatening glance, and that was usually enough to calm rowdy folks down.

I never saw a waitress throw a drink on anybody. Pure Hollywood.

I’m not sure why, but one old man in that video reminded me of the time in the Blossom Bar when a guy walked across the dance floor in a drunken stupor and rush to the bathroom. He didn’t make it, and soiled his trousers with runny poop and it went all down his leg and all over the wooden dance floor. The bus boy that had to clean it up was probably not happy he came to work THAT night. The band members were furious.

All in all, pretty accurate, with just a few bumps.



I had a good time with Bartending I, II, and III and the comment sections were interest-getters too. I am going back through all this later and experience it again.

The fun details of life, the “lively little things” are more pleasurable and more interesting than politics anyway. I should have become a novelist and left the politics to the unhappy people … lol … how many politicians have you observed that appear to really enjoy life and maintain a cheerful attitude and outlook on living life!

Most of them look to me like they’re miserable all the time, they have that perpetual serious-faced “Harry Reid look” as they strain out their lies and red herrings. (I suggest we drop the word “politician” and start calling them Red Herrings.) /grin

21st century America is an ongoing novel as well as an ongoing soap opera, and it has the full range and variety of human creatures that haunt bars, malls, academia, Barnes & Noble bookstores, and lunatic asylums. [B][COLOR="#B22222"]Louie for President![/COLOR] [/B]… lol … In a sense I can relate to crazy people because the line between sanity and insanity is increasingly being blurred as this 21st century soap opera unfolds on the American stage.

I liked your word “spastic” up there (in your comment to CT). It reminded me of Washington politicians nervously doing the political two step jitterbug to keep the befuddled American electorate from discovering who they really are. I’m always on the lookout for a new word to add to my list of interesting words, and spastic just made the list.

Re Hollywood: Leave it to Hollywood to put at least some foolishness and inaccuracies in everything they produce. I’d bet the farm that Joel’s [I]Piano Man[/I] video was scripted and produced by at least the cousins, probably the brothers, of the Hollywood crowd. These days I hardly can watch a new Hollywood movie without cringing at least two or three times at some deliberate insult to either my intelligence, or to history, or to Christianity.

[highlight]I had never realized, before reading your [I]Bartending[/I], just how quick and skillful a good bartender had to be in a really crowded bar packed with customers all ordering different drinks and probably wanting them “yesterday” as in pretty darn quick. [/highlight]Then add the element of booze and what it does to the human ego thus necessitating that a really good bartender also must be a “psychologist” as well as a “priest” and a “listener friend” and to some extent an advisor. Do bartenders ever get asked to marry people! … lol …/joke (Bet somewhere sometime at least one did.)



I just noticed down at the very bottom of this comment block where it says:

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(I wonder if one could get notifications inside one’s control panel if one checked “Through my control panel only”?)


[QUOTE=Jack Hectormann;bt390]how many politicians have you observed that appear to really enjoy life and maintain a cheerful attitude and outlook on living life[/QUOTE]Excellent observation. None, or very few, of course. Contrast the fake smile of a politician with the genuine warmth of Billy Graham or Pope John Paul II and the difference is obvious.

[QUOTE=Jack Hectormann;bt390]the line between sanity and insanity[/QUOTE]Interesting how insane people are almost always intelligent. The curse of the intellect?

Louie, with all his faults and flaws, WAS exceedingly bright.

[QUOTE=Jack Hectormann;bt390]I’m always on the lookout for a new word to add to my list of interesting words, and spastic just made the list[/QUOTE]Then may I expect to see “spastic” incorporated into your excellent description of why we should be optimistic? Like, “General Death and General Time are NOT spastic.”?

[QUOTE=Jack Hectormann;bt390]These days I hardly can watch a new Hollywood movie without cringing at least two or three times at some deliberate insult to either my intelligence, or to history, or to Christianity[/QUOTE]It’s perhaps revealing that a critic’s FIRST element of review is “how accurate and faithful to history” a film was.

[QUOTE=Jack Hectormann;bt390]I had never realized, before reading your [I]Bartending[/I], just how quick and skillful a good bartender [B]had to be[/B] in a really crowded bar packed with customers all ordering different drinks and probably wanting them “yesterday” as in pretty darn quick[/QUOTE]Yeah, I got behind a few times, and it was miserable. All of a sudden, people who were your friends hate you. Says something about the relative positions of booze and friendship. Keep it flowing and everybody is your friend. Interrupt the flow, and you have a roomful of nasty enemies.

One time I knocked a glass into the ice well and it shattered. You can’t very well pick out the shards of glass from the ice, nor can you take the risk of serving a drink with sharp pieces of glass in it. (Visions of someone gagging, blood gushing out of their mouth, and clutching their throat prevail.)

So the only choice you have is to pour hot water into the ice well repeatedly so that you can lift it out and empty it completely (and it was a HUGE bulky square metal container), and then of course you have to fill it with ice again. That takes a lot of time, and unavoidably you will get behind on a busy night.

I only did that once and it was a valuable lesson on what can happen if you get . . SPASTIC!

You MUST know where your hands and arms are at all times . . . situational awareness and limb control is ABSOLUTELY necessary.

Also, loose fitting shirts are NOT good (it was a hanging sleeve of mine that knocked the glass over . . . ever after I wore tight fitting shirts.)

The kid that got his tie stuck in the cash register drawer suffered the “clothing” problem. If you must wear a tie, make it a BOW TIE.

[QUOTE=Jack Hectormann;bt390]must be a “psychologist” as well as a “priest” and a “listener friend” and to some extent an advisor[/QUOTE]That’s the advantage of being BUSY. For some reason, people will not prevail upon you if you are busy. But the minute there’s a lull, it’s like all the pent up desires to unload come out.

That’s why I had a “make work” routine where I looked busy, like counting inventory, washing glasses (that I had already washed), cutting lemons, filling the fruit tray, etc. Every once in a while, somebody like Dottie would say, “Didn’t you already do that?” BUSTED!!!

[QUOTE=Jack Hectormann;bt390]I just noticed down at the very bottom of this comment block where it says:

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(Then it gives you a drop down box that offers:)

  • Do not subscribe
  • Through my control panel only
  • Instantly, through email

(I wonder if one could get notifications inside one’s control panel if one checked “Through my control panel only”?)[/QUOTE]Did this, but there was already a check mark beside “Subscription” and it defaulted to “Through my control panel only”, so I’m wondering if it’s been that way all along . . . and I’ve never gotten any CP notifications so far. Nevertheless, I went through the clicks, so we’ll see.



I read your cool reply up there … spastic will definitely appear in my ravings … lol … say, I note that your [I]Bartending[/I] Part III has already had 162 hits and its just a young piece … betcha you’ll get a lot more … there are a lot of member-[COLOR="#B22222"]readers[/COLOR] here at RO who never or hardly ever make any posts … and some who read but are not members … Igor and Vladimir and Igor’s sister Svetlana from old Mother Russia could be reading your [I]Bartending[/I] right now as I type this post … or later on tonight and that’s a nice cheerful thought-possibility :cool:



Love that word SPASTIC!!! We used that word a lot back in the 60’s and 70’s. Like, “He’s having a spaz attack” and so forth.

I think the reason why bartenders tend to attract female patrons is that female patrons are usually drunk or tipsy… A little alcohol seems to grease the tongue and shut off the brain in many women drinkers. Me? I preferred the bouncers–love those bulked up arms and chest. What can I say?