Thursday, February 09, 2012

What a bartender needs to know

Edit: A highball refers to any drink that's a mix of alcohol and mixer in a ratio that favors the carbonated beverage. Typically the mixer is some form of carbonated beverage. [link]

I'm not much of a drinker. When I was little I begged a drink off of Mom's Bud Light. She put salt in hers to make it fizzier. It was awful.

My next drink came while I was still in college but longer after turning 21 than you might believe. A friend was getting married and the bachelor party was at my place. Everyone brought their favorite beers and the leftovers stayed in my fridge. I started drinking with Heineken and Guinness and some other stuff. I went back to Mom and Dad's for the weekend. Thinking I had developed a taste for it, when my brother asked if I wanted a drink from the garage fridge I asked for a beer. He got me a Bud Light. I sorta spit it out and wanted to know what the hell he did to it. Nothing. It's just crap.

Later in college I was hanging out in the office at home with my cousin and fiddling with the computer. My brother asked us if we wanted something to drink so my cousin asked for a screwdriver. My brother mixed 50/50 OJ and 1979 Kansas made vodka. The fumes were so bad that as soon as he walked in the room my cousin grabbed his eyes and yelled "I'M BLIND!"

I've spent time with people who know how to drink. Some who make good peach schnapps, chocolate martinis, unnamed things made just for people who don't like the taste of alcohol, and the Todd-tini, OMG, the Todd-tini. If it's not perfect Todd puts it down the drain. I know several places to get good mudslides or mojitos. I've had some rum and cokes and vodka and tonics, but it's always someone who knows what the hell they're doing who order and I just get one of the same. So I still don't know what the fuck I'm doing. Not really.

What I have learned over the years is that there is no down turn in the bartending business. The worse the economy gets the more people tend to drink. So my advice to people starting college now is to learn to mix drinks. Even if you don't drink, you want to know how to tend bar just so you'll always have a job opening. And it's a skill that people respect. Even if you don't ever have to resort to slinging drinks to make money, there's plenty of times in the business world that you'll score points with the boss by knowing how to make a good martini.

Now, I've got some friends who are starting college. What drinks would your recommend they learn how to make? How should they stock the liquor cabinet on a Pabst Blue Ribbon budget? If they're going to invest in a bottle of something good, what should they get?


lacochran's evil twin said...

You'll never get rich as a bartender and your feet will hurt a lot. But as a fill in or supplemental job, sure.

Jason said...

If you're not into beer, and even if you are, you should keep a bottle of good quality vodka on hand. I like to keep Grey Goose in my cabinet. And keep some tomato juice (Spicy V8 is a good choice) and some cranberry juice. With those, you can mix up a quick bloody mary with the tomato juice and other pantry ingredients. The cranberry juice and splash of vodka (and maybe also a splash of limoncello if you're feeling fancy) is refreshing as well. And with a good quality vodka and the right proportions, a lot of people don't even notice the vodka, at least while they're drinking it.

Ibid said...

You'll never get rich, but you'll be able to find a job when that degree fails you.