A Bartender's Guide to Measuring Up in your Relationships

Titles Are Important

What's Your Barometer


A few years back when Cirôc came on the scene, customers were ordering it most out of all the other vodkas. Ordinary vodka/crans or vodka and lemonade became Cirôc specific. My first inclination as the bartender was to grab the original Cirôc. However Cirôc has six flavors, and customers often wanted one of the others, yell out me, “Redberry” or “I meant Peach,” sometimes after I’ve poured the liquor. The lack of clarity messed both of us up. It got to the point where every time someone ordered Cirôc I had to asked, “What kind?” It shouldn’t surprise me that people rarely ever order the original, yet I was surprised how often they didn’t say specifically what they wanted, leaving it up to me to assume.

Titles are important. A title gives others an idea of what’s to be expected and draws a clear…

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It seems perplexing that people all over the world continue to drink even when they don’t like what they’re drinking, or alcohol in general. Really it’s not that much of a mystery. Most people drink, not for love of a particular alcohol itself, but for how alcohol makes them feel. Their “preferences” for brand or type are also still all about the feeling– “cheap liquor gives me a bad hangover.”
“Gin makes me violent.”
“Hennessey makes me feel sexy.”
“I feel more in control with wine than liquor. “
Even though millions are spent on creating–and subsequently selling–numerous varieties of flavored liquor to make alcohol more paletable, you still wouldn’t drink that apple-flavored whatever if you didn’t enjoy how it made you feel afterwards.

Those who settle for cheap liquor when they can’t afford what they really want–whether for taste or quality–have resolved that the feelings they’ll get–or get to escape–are worth the negative side affects of the choice they make. Many people will continue to drink, even when they’re not supposed to, (for health reasons, legal troubles, or otherwise,) simply because of how it makes them feel.

Let’s face it, drinking is all about the feels.

Often we fall for people, not for who they are, but rather for how they make us feel. That’s the euphoria we get at the beginning of a relationship. It’s the thing that makes us want to keep being around that person. The problem is when red flags are present and we ignore them to have those feelings. The more time spent though, the more we get to see our lovers for who they really are and not just who they are to us. A disconnect happens when we dislike who they are more than we like how they make/made us feel.

We often stay too long in relationships that should end because we’re petrified we’ll never get those types of feelings from anyone else. And we date the people we think we deserve; meaning, if you don’t think very highly of yourself, you’ll find someone who agrees, and treats you accordingly. But that something is seen as better than nothing at all.
This is also why we take it so badly when someone rejects us, breaks up with us, or doesn’t like us. In our minds, we feel like they’re saying there’s something “wrong” with us.
Don’t take it personally. Them not liking you says more about what they need at the time then who you are. It doesn’t mean you’re wrong, nor that they’re right. When feelings are involved, it’s not personal. Nothing ever really is.

One Shot At A Time


A liver can only filter one alcoholic drink per hour at a time. And it takes 45 minutes after the last drink is consumed to feel the full affects of all of the alcohol. That means, if you consume, say, 4 drinks in 50 minutes, your liver is only working on one of them, while the rest lie in wait til their turn to be processed. This is how a person can go from completely ok to shit-faced, unexpectedly. They’re not giving their body enough time to adapt and adjust to what’s happening.
The more you drink, the harder the liver has to work. Now the liver feels stressed and overwhelmed, discombobulated, trying to undo what’s been done to it. Author F. Scott Fitzgerald described it best, saying, “First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.”
Have a drink with bubbles,–such as a Rum & Coke or champagne,–and the intoxication factor is increased. Even more so still if the soda is diet. The best idea to avoid becoming a casualty of this scenario is to alternate alcoholic beverages with one without liquor, like water, either drinking them at the same time, or one after the other. This helps to cleanse the palette, and gives the body time to absorb what’s happening to it.
The same can be said for a breakup. There are some people that believe to get over heart break, they have to distract themselves with other people, so they date to dilute their true feelings. However, multiple people at one time doesn’t give your heart a chance to focus on healing with its full attention, nor is it able to give completely to anyone else.
Dating to distract may seem like all fun and games at first, but it quickly escalates to you feeling too drunk with emotions and confusion, and trying to sober up and shake off an overwhelming situation. Mistakes are made as you try to regain your composure. And more hearts get broken. Nobody’s winning.
Instead, it’s best to take time to iron out your feelings one at a time. Because trying to move on to another before letting go of the past means the feelings for someone new will be sitting on top of those hurt feelings. You might feel ok for a minute but after some time, you’ll start feeling the full effects of trying to move on when your heart wasn’t ready to.
So what’s your barometer; how do you know when you’re over one relationship and ready for the next round?

National Margarita Day


So in honor of National Margarita Day, I’ll tell you guys about the one time I bartended a conference and made only margaritas:

I make really good margaritas. Like, really good. So when a lady came to the bar asking for a drink–but undecided about whether to get a cocktail or glass of wine–I suggested a margarita.
It was a beautiful spring day, one of the first warm days of the season for Michigan, and Friday afternoon, so that seemed perfect. I convinced her to let her hair down and have a refreshing cocktail. She agreed and the rest was history.
She raved about how good her drink was, which made the other ladies want to try one. They ordered several rounds. And, because they had made up their minds,–after ordering one from the other bartender–that mine were better, they refused to let the other bartender make any. She became in charge of grabbing more limes and restocking glasses. I got a hand cramp from all the limes I squeezed–(fresh lime juice is key).
I made 36 margaritas that day. Only one person ordered something different, a glass of white wine, but for her second drink she gave in and got a margarita, then cursed the fact that she didn’t have that to begin with. The power of persuasion is a real thing.

As a bartender, it’s imperative to encourage customers to buy certain things; to upsell, be able to charge more, and earn a bigger profit. That’s how liquor promos work too: they place a bunch of advertisements all over a bar and wait for the magic to happen. You may think you choose that Heineken or Cirôc, but likely your subconscious did from seeing an ad.


The same thing happened when, looking for some excitement one night at work, I decided to make my bar customer’s otherwise ordinary margarita, blue. (*Secret bartender stuff: triple sec, the orange liqueur used in many drinks, is the same thing as blue Curacao, used in most blue drinks. I simply swapped one for the other.*) The customer was put off at first, but after some convincing, she tried it, and love it. It was an ordinary drink made more extraordinary with one small change.
And others noticed it as well. For the rest of the night, even if they came to the bar for something else, once they got there and saw the blue drink, people asked for it simply because it “looked pretty.” Those same people would probably never have asked for a margarita. I increased my sales, and my demand, and ultimately my client base who came only to me after that, (cuz, like I said, I make really good margaritas.;))

*People want what they think they want based on what others have.*

Keep this in mind when thinking about relationships. How your significant other seems to become more significant to others once they become yours. Those wanting a relationship like yours can easily confuse their desire to have what you have with your boo, to wanting your boo to be theres. Or the way an ex becomes more appealing after you’ve seen them with their new boo.
Hearing someone sing praises about something raises our antennas and makes us want to see what all the fuss is about. Now, luckily for me, my margaritas lived up to the hype, but that isn’t always the case, and you have to be mindful of what you’re sacrificing for this curious choice. Trying a new, pretty drink is nothing as far as risk is concerned compared to experimenting with your relationship,–or someone else’s,–because that over there looks nice. You have to make sure it’s worth the chance. But, it can be rewarding to step out of your comfort zone to try something refreshing and new.


     I’ve worked in some tough bars. Whether it was the type of crowd, the neighborhood, the people I worked for or the people I worked with, I’ve seen been through some things that would make the faint of heart run for the hills, and I had to do it with a smile on my face and my attitude in check. And I’ve survived it.
Have I had nights where I’ve run off to cry, dodged bullets, been cussed out, scared for my safety? Yes. Did I let those nights stop me from living my life or disrupt my focus? Not one bit.
     The really hard jobs give you the most experience. So much so that–no matter how briefly you’re there–once you leave, anything else after that is a cakewalk. You almost laugh at the ease. Your skin will be thicker, and you’ll be mentally stronger. Not to mention, whether you tried to or not, you’ll have learned a lot of necessary skills that you can keep with you for your future endeavors.
     Similarly, when you’ve had a really tough relationship–lots of arguing, misunderstanding, lack of trust, and hard work–the next one will seem like a vacation. It can be hard to see that though while you’re in the eye of the storm. Often we resolve not to give our all to the next person, (or get involved at all) for fear that that new relationship will turn out like the last. Instead, it’s better to focus on the lessons learned from that previous wrong experience. Your skin will become thicker and you’ll be mentally sharper, in a way that will protect you from the same kind of hurt because you’ll be able to see it coming. The next relationship after that should be a cakewalk, but you’ll never know if you don’t take the chance. Don’t let the drama from your last gig keep you from apply to the next one.
So what’s your barometer? How do you decide how much is too much, and what makes you feel strong enough to get back in the game?


Ask any bartender and I’m sure they’ll tell you, aside from the occasional headaches, for the most part they LOVE what they do for a living. Whatever the reasons, bartending is one of those professions that hardly feels like one; even during the busiest times. At times it’s hard work but it’s usually more social than strenuous. The best nights feel like a party, and the worst still beat a day at the office. Most bartenders stay in the business for several years, decades even, until it starts to feel like a job.
Every bartender has bad days, slow shifts, unruly guests, or a shitty co-worker here and there, but these things are expected. If, however, they find themselves having a hard time mustering up a smile, start showing up later and later for their shifts, ranting to no end about customers, and just generally in a bad mood whenever they have to go to work, it’s time to leave. The party has ended. Burn out is the usual culprit. It becomes physically and mentally exhausting to give so selflessly all of the time. And, depending on where you work, that process can be sped up when you feel unsupported.

I left the bartending business a year and a half ago, rather unceremoniously, giving two weeks notice to my job. After training my replacement, I walked out alone on the last day of week three. No farewell party, no parade, no acknowledgment of my achievement. Just a quiet exit at days end. It was time.
Having given almost a decade to the profession, it’s changed and I’d changed. And though I knew I would miss it, it no longer served the same purpose; my life’s purpose had changed. Where it was once fun and energizing, lately I had started to feel drained, like it was zapping the life outta me. I knew I wouldn’t be done for good–a few gigs here and there–but I’d reached the end of the road where this was the main thing I’d do for a living.
Before quitting, I took a two week vacation, just to clear my head and revive my spirit. My two weeks without were glorious, stress free; I felt renewed and refreshed, until it was time to go back. The minute I stepped foot behind the bar, I was welcomed back with an overwhelming sense of depression. I’m not a drinker, but I seriously began to contemplate taking shots before my shifts just to take the edge off of having to be there. The customers noticed as well. I’d lost my ability to fake it; no, maybe I’d lost my desire to. That’s when I knew it was truly over. Two months later I was walking out the door for good.

The same kind of burn out happens in relationships. You may began to notice that you’re unhappy being with your significant other. You find yourself relieved when your plans need to be cancelled, or your time together is cut short. You stop having anything nice to say about them when talking to friends. It gets harder and harder to be around that person, and you’re almost acting when you have to be. The things that made you happy about your relationship now either bug the shit out of you or aren’t enough. Phone calls and texts fill you with dread. You notice the relationship is not what it had been, and instead feels like a job you’re obligated to go to. And your partner may notice too. The shift in your mood will be obvious.
Many people get caught in this web, both professionally and romantically, having no idea how to get out nor what’s waiting on the other side. It doesn’t seem ok to up and be done with this thing you’ve invested so much time and energy into. Bad days and tough times are to be expected but the hard truth is when your relationship no longer serves a legitimate purpose, and instead causes you stress and unhappiness,–when it starts to feel like a job,–it’s best to give notice and walk away.
So what’s your barometer? Do you weigh the good against the bad, or do you measure the degree of unhappiness you feel, when deciding whether or not to give yourself to something or someone?

Trust Me, I’m The Bartender



    Being a bartender/server is completely based on the good faith, honor system. Most often, bartenders and servers don’t collect money as soon as you order. Unless it’s a super busy night,–and even then lots of places are willing to run a tab,– customers are usually left to sit and enjoy their food and drink, adding on as they see fit. We serve you with the trust that you’ll settle up at the end of your stay.
     There are the few that cheat the system–dine and dash–but for the most part, people are trustworthy. As a server, when we do encounter those rare deceitful individuals, it’s a lesson learned for us to be sharper next time, pay more attention. But we continue on, serving others according to that original honor system.
     It’s the same with trust in a relationship. Just because there are those few untrustworthy people, the ones that misuse your efforts and abuse your kindness, does not mean you should stop trusting everyone nor stop giving your all to the next one. 
     Dating is based on the same honor principle as serving: I’m giving you my time, my faith, my heart, my all, trusting that you will take care of it while it serves you. If, however, you find you’re often being taken advantage of, it’s time to reevaluate your awareness. When this happens in the business, it’s usually suggested that that server go through more training. There’s nothing wrong with walking away for a while for self-reflection and to improve your skills. That way, you’ll come back clear-headed and with renewed faith and confidence.
     So what’s your barometer? Are you letting a few bad apples spoil the whole bunch or are you learning your lessons and letting them improve your outlook?