A Bartender's Guide to Measuring Up in your Relationships

Posts tagged ‘relationships’

One Shot At A Time

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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

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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.

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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

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     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?

When It Starts To Feel Like A Job

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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?

Titles Are Important

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     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?

Flair

  

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   I’ve been bartending for a decade now. I can say with confidence that I am a great bartender. However, I am not a flair bartender. I don’t do tricks, special effects, or anything extraordinary outside of the glass (or your taste buds ;)). I tried to learn once while working at this quant sports bar. But my working there didn’t last long, so neither did my flair career. Kudos to those who pull off flipping bottles in the air, and pouring seven different shots from seven shakers into seven glasses, simultaneously. That is a special skill, I must admit, that I am intimidated by.
     If I were to measure my bartending abilities against those who flair, I’d feel inadequate, like a complete failure. So, I don’t. I recognize that flair bartending is a subsection of an industry that I belong to. Everybody can’t do everything. And the fact that I can’t flair doesn’t take away from my usefulness or appeal as a bartender. So what’s my barometer? I create specialty drinks on a moments notice, have mastered layering, crowds and speed aren’t a problem for me, patient, and I’m someone others come to to learn from. In my book, that makes me valuable.
     How do u measure your worth? What’s your barometer? Most often in our lives–and especially in relationships–we tend to compare ourselves to others to gauge our desirability, our usefulness, our worth. It seems easier to notice the qualities others possess that we don’t, –their flair,— and get down on ourselves because we feel were lacking. How often have u heard or said, “I wish I had his_______,” or “I could never do _______ like she does.”? My question is, why should you? Why should you be anyone other than who you uniquely are? Someone else’s light doesn’t dim your shine, unless you let it. Just focus on what you do well and others will too.

How Cool A Customer Are You?

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     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?