Dr. Drink's Apothecary

Because we serve people, not drinks.

My Foot is in Your Ass Because I Can’t Fix Stupid or Lazy.

I always warn clients of three things when we begin working together.

1. I can’t fix stupid.

2. I can’t fix lazy.

3. I can’t make walk-in coolers bigger.

See the pretty cocktail in the picture above? See the cooler in the background in disarray? See the bartender who left the cooler that way? No, you don’t. That’s because I fired him. Actually, I didn’t, this isn’t one of my clients. This photo was posted by a very high profile bar here in the US and when I saw it, my eye immediately was drawn to the cooler. And my heart broke. And then I got pissed.

This picture tells me a lot.

1. Lazy. Lazy bartenders, lazy management.

2. Stupid. Any bartender who would want to work their bench with that much chaos is stupid.

3. The bar is suffering loss. Letting storage areas become disorganized leads bartenders to open second or even third bottles that already are open but they don’t see. That means product gets poured down the drain because it goes bad.

4. Or worse, they serve outdated product to their guests.

If you walk into any store, be it grocery, clothing, or porn, items are lined up on shelves in neat order, labels faced forward and stock rotated to ensure the oldest product is sold first. Care is taken to make the product appealing to the purchasers eye. Glass front coolers and back bars should be treated the same way. Being well organized allows bartenders to serve more efficiently, helps make certain product is at its freshest when served, and ‘advertises’ your product to the guest.

Other things that makes me want to put my foot in your ass if not done right:

Fruit and Garnish Care. Wash it; your mother should have taught you this, she’s not stupid or lazy. Cut fruit does not last overnight; if you wouldn’t put it in your mouth why would you put it in a drink. If you have to stuff bleu cheese olives, aka the ‘devil’s testicles’, the cheese goes inside the olive, not smeared all around it. Nobody likes soft and limp, be sure your bloody mary celery isn’t. Mint is supposed to be green, not brown. Put a bar rag under your cutting board so the cutting board doesn’t slide; you like your fingers, don’t you? Get a proper sharp knife. A full tang chef’s knife is the proper knife, not that dull paring knife you are using. Again, your fingers look better attached to your hand and it makes picking up bottles easier.

Bottles and Pour Spouts. Wipe all bottles down in between and after every shift with a clean bar towel. That also means pulling the bottles from speed rails and wiping them clean; I’m tired of sticky bottles and fruit flies. Pull, wash, and sanitize pour spouts at least once a week. Pour spouts are placed back in bottles flag left of bottle’s front label. Pour spouts are not to be a study of diversity – pick one model and use it in all bottles. Quit being cheap, buy high quality spouts and replace them when worn.

Hand Washing. I see you sneeze, cough, scratch your nethers, smoke, shake hands with guests, and handle money. Then you touch glasses, garnishes, and straws. Be Lady MacBeth. Your mother taught you better.

Mise en Place. This job is hard, don’t make it harder by not setting up your bar correctly. It chaps my butt when I see a guest order a martini stirred and you have to search for a bar spoon. Why did you run out of register tape and have to run to the basement to get more mid-shift? How is it you only have one pen for guest checks? You make $200 a shift, buy a pack of $0.99 pens. And explain to me why you have to go to the kitchen to find kosher salt after I order my Margarita.

A Short List of Stupid & Lazy Things You Do. Dragging glassware through ice. Using hands to fill glasses with ice. Using the bottom of mixing glass (where your filthy hand just was) to strain mixing tin. Never changing sink water. Handling glassware near the rim. Not serving guests a glass of water when they order spirits. Not using cocktail napkins. Not wiping down bar between guests being seated. Letting empty glassware collect on bar top. Not using fresh glass for beer service. Starting draught pour without the glass under the faucet.  Never wash the salt rimmer. Not putting tools and bottles back where you got it from during service

Okay. I’m done. My fingers are bleeding from typing so hard and my blood pressure is dangerously high. Be a professional. Build good habits. I tired of ruining good shoes when you’re stupid and lazy.

9 comments on “My Foot is in Your Ass Because I Can’t Fix Stupid or Lazy.

  1. musingsoftheamusingmuse
    August 27, 2012

    I think I’m in love… okay, maybe just lust. My second job is at a BBQ joint. It has a bar, and though I’m not the bartender but a cook, I have had training as a bartender and if I have while working, I restock the fridge, etc. I rotate and refill the cooler. Line up the glasses. Clean. ALL stuff that should be done that I think is a no-brainer.

    The first time I was found restocking and rotating (including turning all bottles label-forward), I was asked what I was doing and why. Incredulously I responded, “Because THAT is what SHOULD be done.”

    No more questions.

    • Joseph DeLuca
      August 27, 2012

      I believe Jeffery Morgenthaler had this to say about it – “Bartending is five hours of fun sandwiched between one and a half hours of cleaning.”

  2. MJ Conner
    August 28, 2012

    I get the feeling you really know your stuff when it comes to bar management… Glad to know someone out there is looking after bar hoppers like myself. Thank you. You just keep your foot in people’s asses where it belongs!

    • Joseph DeLuca
      August 28, 2012

      Thanks MJ; if we don’t stay dedicated to the guest and teaching bartenders to be better professions no bar or restaurant will ever reach their potential.

  3. Dave Willhite
    August 29, 2012

    All very good practices. These practices will not only make your shift run smoothly, but the next shift will reap the benefits as well. A bunch of small problems can make a larger problem. However, all your good practices will add up aswell. Set yourself up for success.

    • Joseph DeLuca
      August 29, 2012

      Thanks for for commenting Dave. We miss you and your skills in Cleveland; hope the family is well.

  4. ooplalund
    August 29, 2012

    This post is so good. Printing this out for our staff to read. Things that grate my carrot about the bar at my current workplace include: Leaving a dish towel on the floor beneath the sink to ‘catch water’. Washing coffee plungers with glassware. Using curvy juice cocktail glasses as ‘long glasses’. Leaving bottles of wine that are sold by the glass open and on the bar-top to “keep them handy”. Cleaning the expresso machine with polishing clothes. Using short glasses as ice scoops and/or leaving ice scoops sitting in the ice maker (they get buried and cover the ice in hand-germs). Selling ridiculously long list of every-cocktail-in-the-world which we don’t really have ingredients for (would much rather we stuck to the classics and a few house specials). Our bar is a little different in that its part of a spa resort, but not the breezy beachside type spa resort but just a small lakeside facility which which sells high-end product. We have an extremely small staff and the bar is normally staffed by whoever is in the restaurant. There are duty lists and check lists and costing lists and every other kind of useful list but we still find that some staff are just lazy and untrustworthy. I don’t think they mean it destructively but it completely chaps my ass to have to go around checking on everything someone has done just because they have a clock-in/clock-out mentality. [/rant]

    • Joseph DeLuca
      August 30, 2012

      “I truly believe that our most of our employee’s faults and deficiencies are the result of our faults and our deficiencies as owners and managers; we are not following best practices which cause the loss in profitability behind our bars.”

      I wrote the above at the end of a post last week entitled “Eight Out of Ten Managers Encourage Bartender Theft”. It seems however you are probably doing the right thing on a day to day basis. As my high school wrestling coach often said when dealing with a team – “If you have cancer, first you try medicine, if that doesn’t work, you cut the cancer out.”

  5. Calorie Pimp
    September 7, 2014

    I love this post. As a someone who made the transition from BOH to FOH, much of this seems to me to be, well, fundamental. As a cook, the importance of cleanliness, preparation and efficiency is self evident. It drove me nuts to work with waiters and bartenders who would rather gab and smoke during setup and then run like madmen during service, than get set up and not have to sweat during service.
    I always found myself doing the things that nobody else seemed to be bothered to do, the ole “If I don’t do it, it won’t get done” syndrome.
    Clearly, you are doing the Lord’s work sir. Keep it up.

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This entry was posted on August 27, 2012 by in Bartenders, Managers, Operations and tagged , , , , , .

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