A Bartender's Guide to Measuring Up in your Relationships

Posts tagged ‘Love’


I Have Mixed Drinks About Feelings


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.

Tough Times Give You Tough Skin


     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?

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?

Titles Are Important


     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 boundary for both you and the person(s) you’re involved with. That’s why we have labels.

      Much the way a Cosmo ceases to be so if it’s made with tequila instead of vodka,–(it becomes a cranberry margaritas, and even that’s a stretch)–when you change the basic formula of a thing, a main ingredient, it takes a new form. Calling it a Cosmo won’t make that anymore true than if you go on two dates with a guy then start calling him your husband. Because there are steps that have to take place, decisions to be made; and those decisions have to be expressed out loud by calling it but a proper name.
     Having a title implies that there’s a recipe to be followed. A recipe gives us structure, organization, an order with which to abide. Even when there are several ways to make the same drink, the basics remain the same–a Manhattan is still a Manhattan if u add bitters or not, forget the cherry, or put it in a rocks glass. However, a Manhattan becomes another drink entirely if made with cognac instead of bourbon.
     Relationships are structured that way as well. Like those party shooters at a nightclub, relationships have layers, that often overlap, but the entire structure is altered if one or more of the elements are missing or changed. A title defines what’s happening, for those involved and outsiders, and clarifies what can take place within those boundaries, and what cannot. Without a title,–knowing what to call what you have,– you or your significant other are left to interpret what you will and create your own boundaries, or lack thereof.
     I’ve heard many people describe their relationships by saying, “He/She knows what it is.” I usually follow that up by asking, “So you’ve talked about what you are?” I’m left dumbfounded when I hear in reply, “No, but they know.”
      It’s never a good idea to assume the person you’re seeing is on the same page that you are. Everyone comes to relationships with an agenda, but often our agendas are not the same as others. It’s not safe to think your significant other just knows if no conversation has been had.
     And then there are those times when I hear people say, “What we have doesn’t need a title; it can’t be defined.” I cringe a little inside. I’ll admit I’ve been a victim of what at first seems like a romantic statement. But honestly, that’s horseshit wrapped in a Tiffany bow. That’s that person’s way of saying, either, that they’re confused, or he/she is trying not to hurt your feelings; neither of which is a good thing. Because, as the saying goes, saying nothing speaks volumes. If someone can’t –or won’t–define what you have, it’s likely it’s nothing serious.

     Just think of it like being hired for a new job. There’s no way in the world you’d do it without knowing what your title is, what’s expected of you. You’d want to know if the title you’re getting is beneath you, or important, if there’s room for advancement or if it’s temporary at best. Remember this the next time you or someone else says titles aren’t important.

     What’s your barometer? What parameters do you use to define your relationships and are you discussing them with others?

How Cool A Customer Are You?


     I went out to dinner with a couple friends. After being seated, it took a while for our server to make it to the table. When she came, she started with the drink orders, taking my two friends orders then walked away in a hurry before I could even give her mine.
She only had two other tables, but I watched as she did laps around her section, tending to those two other tables and continuously walking past ours. By her third lap, when I saw her pick up a water pitcher to refill the other tables but we were still minus drinks and my drink order, I got fed up.
     Being a bartender for several years I know how good customer service works and this wasn’t it. I didn’t know what her problem was with my table but I wasn’t going to stand for it. With service industry arrogance dripping off of me, I walked over to the server station and asked another server if she could take our table.
     Julia came over promptly. She took down our beverages, and food–because by now we had been sitting there long enough to have decided–and was back in a flash to quench our thirst. The first server did finally come back with a few drinks–their two and a wayward coke no one ordered–but by then I resolved that we’d stick with Julia instead.
     The rest of the meal went off without a hitch. I thanked Julia for her lively service, adding in my praise for her how I didn’t know what the other girl’s problem was with us and the regaling tale of woe about my experience before her, to which Julia replied, “She’s new.”

Now I feel like a bitch. 😟

     Those two little words  pierced through me, stinging like heartburn. I wished she had told me. I walked out of the restaurant feeling ashamed because I remember those first days in the industry, when every little thing was new. You’re juggling learning the system along with learning people and learning about the things you’re serving. Just two tables can feel like having the whole restaurant to yourself. In those early days, I blurted out to every person, “Hi, I’m new,” like it was my name.
     I wished that I had known she was just starting out. Better yet, I wish that I had had the patience to observe a little longer and I would have figured it out like I have so many times before. I pride myself on being that compassionate and cool industry customer who knows how it is. I usually talk new servers through the experience and give words of wisdom and tricks to the trade. My know-it-all got the best of me.

     We do something similar in our personal relationships, particularly the seasoned ones.

    We think we know how our partner operates so we stop observing them the way we did when things were new. And our expectations become super high because we think they should have this relationship thing down by now. We stop asking questions to check-in and instead assume our significant other should know how to give us what we want.
The minute things aren’t going according to our plan, we bail to someone new who might be able to meet our needs better, instead of finding out what’s going on with the one we claim to care about.
     We’re quite a self-centered society, and in a hurry at that. We always think the grass is greener on the other side failing to realize we could have green grass too if we only took the time to water it.
     Patience is a virtue, and at the root of it is the lesson that to be patient is to consider there’s something happening with someone else besides ourselves. Patience is about empathy.
     I wish I had been more patient with my first server. Let her bring us the wrong drinks and talked her down from her nervousness. I wish I could’ve been a cool memory for her and not the one she likely went home and cried about.
     What’s your barometer on patience? Are you being the best customer you can to the person in your life who may get flustered sometimes but is trying hard to serve you joy?