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Five Things a Bartender Doesn't Want to Hear

And one he does

By Joe YoungPublished 5 months ago 5 min read
Busy, busy, busy (My own photo)

Here are five things the average bartender does not want to hear on a busy shift.

1: Six Baby Guinnesses, Please

The joint is jumping and customers are two deep along the bar. There’s a gaggle of young ladies in as part of a hen night, and one of those requests a gin and tonic. You pour the drink and place it on the bar in front of the customer, who fumbles in her purse. Then she utters the words you least want to hear.

“Oh, and could I have six baby Guinnesses, please?”

If you don’t already know, a baby Guinness is served in a shot glass, and to prepare it, you must pour Tia Maria (or similar) into the glass, leaving enough room to add the ‘head’, which is created by carefully pouring Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur (or similar) over the back of a spoon so that it floats on top of the existing liquid, until the Bailey’s comes level with the top of the glass.

The resultant drink does loosely resemble a miniature pint of Guinness, and in one bar I used to work at, BGs were quite in vogue for a while. But it is an awful faff to prepare, as you discover. Because by the time you’ve patiently poured out the half dozen for that customer, your queue is three deep.

2: The Lager’s Gone Off

Having dispatched the baby Guinnesses with a degree of success, it is, literally, all hands to the pumps. The backlog that had built up while you were momentarily indisposed is clearing, but then a voice pipes up; “The lager’s gone off.”

This is Jazmin, with a z, a recent recruit to the team. This newbie is adept at pulling the taps, but not a lot else as yet, and changing a barrel does not fall within her remit a this juncture. In fact, when the landlord had offered to show her how to change a barrel, Jazmin, had simply wiggled her fingers by way of reply, the purpose being to highlight her recently manicured and painted nails.

So, you abandon your duties again, and hurry down to the cellar, where you perform the switch with the precision of a Formula One pit team.

3: I Gave You a Ten

When a customer insists that they gave you a note of a higher denomination than that you have given them change for, it can be an uncomfortable experience. We all make mistakes, but there are also cheats out there, always on the lookout for easy money. And one such claims to have handed over a twenty to Jazmin, but he'd only been given change for a ten.

Luckily, the astute Jazmin has her own system of ensuring correct change returns. She rings in the cost of the transaction, but when the drawer opens, she doesn’t immediately put the note into its allocated compartment. Rather, she lays it flat by the side of the till and takes out the change first. This system greatly reduces the likelihood of an error.

Having the particular transaction fresh in her mind, thanks to this system, Jazmin declares with confidence, politely, of course, that the customer was mistaken. Her resolution is such that the customer sheepishly backs down.

Of course, modern bars are fitted with all manner of cameras and methods of recording what goes in and out of the till, so cheating the system is a lot more difficult. But it still pays to be on the ball with cash transactions.

Put a half in there (My own photo)

4: Put a Half in There

A regular customer is having one for the road, and he hands you a pint glass with only a heeltap sloshing about in the bottom, and he asks for a half-pint of beer to be poured straight into it. While this method of serving makes for one less glass to wash, it is difficult to be precise in measuring out a half pint by eye. And the customer knows you will probably err on the side of generosity, and he will gain a free mouthful of beer.

While this practice is at odds with the company’s hygiene policy, which dictates a fresh glass should be used for each drink poured, the old guy is a valued customer, so you oblige him — but on your own terms.

You pour the beer into a clean half-pint glass, and decant this into his pint glass. Everyone’s a winner (apart from the customer, who becomes disgruntled at missing out on that free mouthful of beer).

5: Take it out of that

This utterance, which only ever seems to come about when the bar is busy, comes from the customer who wants to pay for his drink via a handful of change he just pulled from his trouser pocket. Cupping the change in the palm of his hand, he offers it to you, and you delicately pick out the amount due, saying aloud the value of each coin as you go, lest he thinks you’re trying to diddle him.

There is a more irritating version of this method of payment, and that comes from the customer who dumps a load of change onto the bar, usually right into a puddle of beer, again inviting you to take it out of that.

You slide the wet coins into your hand, rub them on a bar towel, and then ring them into the till, wondering if the much presaged cashless society would be such a bad thing after all.

Time, Gentlemen, Please

And, finally, one thing as a bartender you do want to hear: the ringing of the bell and the glorious words, time, gentlemen, please. It’s been a frantic shift, and you’ve certainly earned your corn. Now you can take a few minutes to relax with a cold beer. But don’t get too comfortable, there’s still all the glasses to wash and the tables to wipe, and, of course, those stubborn customers to move out.

But we love it.


About the Creator

Joe Young

Blogger and freelance writer from the north-east coast of England

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