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Bartending advice

ninjaininjai Registered User regular
edited July 2014 in Help / Advice Forum
So I started as a bartender at a place that is primarily a restaurant just the other day. When I was interviewed and told the hiring manager that I had no bartending experience.

What (little) I know:
the portions served at this bar (3 second pour)
i've watched the video I linked (which talks about simple things like how to pour, chilling martini glasses, difference between up, neat, and rocks, between dirty and dry martini's, but this isn't exactly a martini bar),
I have tried to find some useful info on the internet to no avail (without charge of course).

What I don't know:

I don't have a huge vocabulary of cocktail knowledge (just your basic x-and coke, bloody marys basic margaritas). Today thankfully people asked for nothing but those, and beers which I know by now.
I have a huge menu to learn from scratch with some a-typical menu items that I need to learn pronto. I brought the menu home to study
I've also been asked to learn as much as I can about the scotch and wines that we offer, which is taking up all of my time at home for the last few days, and still haven't really touched the tip of the iceberg yet...
Anything about wine pairing

I'm keeping up and rolling with the punches pretty well, but still feel like i'm being thrown to the dogs somewhat. And 2 days from now start the evening shift alone behind the bar. I need to learn as much as possible in the next 2 days about general bartending, and a few key drinks to learn.

I'm pretty much starting from scratch here. If anyone has been a bartender and any useful advice, learning aids, tips of the trade, anything at all would be helpful.


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  • davidsdurionsdavidsdurions Your Trusty Meatshield Panhandle NebraskaRegistered User regular
    There are endless books to read on the subject, head over to a library and see if they have any. If so, time to cram. If not, try a bookstore, used or new.

    I have this book that helped me learn a lot of the mixes for at-home use. But I'm certain there are many other choices for a professional setting.

    Bar tending school is a thing that exists in my area. Though a quick web search is not helpful as it just brings up slightly sketchy websites. You should be able to drop in to a local bar and just ask the bartender there where they learned the craft and go from there.

    Honestly I'm surprised they just threw you out there with no experience or training. Where I live, restaurants and bars live in constant fear of both regulatory inspection and customer online reviewing, so an untrained bartender is not something I'm familiar with dealing with.

    Next bit of advice is probably the most important. Be confident but not afraid to ask questions. If a customer asks for a "sex on the rocky outcropping of the Galápagos Islands", don't pretend to know it, or worse, say you can't make it. Just keep it light, tell them you've not had the pleasure of such an adventure and ask them if they know what's involved. If they do, great! If not, look it up with them. Even if they know the imgredients, getting mixed drinks just right takes trial and error, so your employer should expect some waste especially since they are just throwing you out there with zero training.

    Someone with more specific experience should be able to help more, but I just wanted to encourage you because a good bartender is hard to find. It's mostly about attitude and confidence though, the knowing drinks comes with experience. Good luck!

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  • ninjaininjai Registered User regular
    Everything I'm reading from various author's and other sources tell's me that bartending school is a trick to get people to spend 600 bucks on something that can be learned through or taught in person. Bartending today isn't what it was in the 1960's, which is what I see in that video, a profession, it seems like now bartending is treated by many places, especially restaurants with bars as "people making the booze"... i'm trying to taking it a step further with the service, so I'm not just a table waiter who makes drinks and serves also people at the bar (which is what I've seen from the other 'bartenders' there.)...

    also books on drinks are great, but they don't train me on general bartending. I have a cheat sheet of drinks on the job, idk how to ask the question really... off to work

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  • ThundyrkatzThundyrkatz Registered User regular
    I took the bar tending class, and it was mostly about the basics of mixing and some terminology and a bit about the law. From my experience definitely a waste of money. more about the hobbyist then any kind of precursor to being a bartender.

    I also worked in a bar at a chain Italian restaurant for a few months. I am glad i did it as i now know for sure that was not the career track for me. Hopefully you will enjoy it more, there is definitely a steep learning curve. I remember them telling me that the key was efficiency of movement. By that i mean try to not make a lot of unneeded trips up and down the bar, know where your mixers and garnishes are and try to economize your steps to save time. Getting backed up is what you want to avoid as much as is possible.

    Other then that practice practice practice! Having them leave you alone during peak times is just terrible though. Ask for help where you can and realize that the more you do this the better you will get.

    Gethninjai
  • GrifterGrifter BermudaModerator mod
    I'm not a bartender but I was once a bit of a bar fly. The key things to have in a good bartender for me are as follows:

    1. Be really fast. If you get in a situation with a lot of customers you need to learn how to be fast. This means learning how to efficiently navigate your bar and get the drinks poured quickly. Most people don't drink fancy drinks. Learn the basics and ask your colleagues for help when you need it. You can look up and learn most cocktail recipes online. Try to remember an entire order so that you're not constantly going back to ask for individual drinks. That will make you the slowest bartender in the world.

    2. Remember your regulars and what they drink. If you can have their drink on the bar before they sit down then they will feel special. They will keep you in tips during the slow periods. Keep them happy and they will keep you happy. Remember to buy them a drink every once in a while and you should see a nice increase in grats.

    3. Make sure that you have a few anecdotes to tell your customers at the bar. Everyone loves a good story. Learn to tell one to keep your customers entertained. You're working in the service industry. You should be able to come upon many great stories.

    4. Make sure you have enough knowledge of your drink menu to be able to recommend things to your customer. There will always be somebody who will ask you about drinks. "What do you like? What's good? Can you make me something good?" They're bullshit questions but you need to know which questions to ask back to get them a drink that they want. Do they want something sweet, fruity, tequila based, rum based?

    Learn how to make a good old fashioned, Manhattan and a few other simple drinks. You'll probably get a lot of people asking for things like a G&T (gin and tonic) or maybe a screwdriver (vodka and orange juice.) I know nothing about wine pairings so can't help you out there.

  • JasconiusJasconius sword criminal mad onlineRegistered User regular
    watch the show Bar Rescue on Spike TV

    it's more business focused, but every episode they usually have an expert bartender come on the show and give advice to total novices. obviously it's not the same as real life instruction, but you do get some practical tidbits out of it

    and more importantly they tell you what not to do

    Try EVE Online with my referral code, and I'll like you a little bit: https://www.eveonline.com/signup/?invc=86622db9-a6f9-41e8-b846-c305f625b55b
  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    I'm not a bartender, but if put in your position I'd focus on: learning the in-house drink menu, practicing consistent pours (get some speed pourers your bar uses and bottles and practice), learn where stuff is and what you have behind the bar.

    Although you'll eventually want to know how to make a long island iced-tea or whatnot, you are going to look like an ass if you don't know how to make what's on your drink menu. Maybe talk to the other bartenders about what gets ordered most often and start there.

    When I drank scotch I rarely asked the bartender to choose. When I did it was always for the smokiest/peatiest stuff they got, while my sister prefers it very smooth. I know what I like and it's a matter of picking from what they have. You can google "scotch flavor map", but it'd be pretty daunting to try and memorize something like that.

    Can you tail/back another bartender there before you have to go solo ... you know, get some experience behind the bar and not be the goto guy?

    There's a regular here who tends bar, but cannot recall his username.

  • ThundyrkatzThundyrkatz Registered User regular
    Esh is the resident Bartending expert

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  • PedroAsaniPedroAsani Brotherhood of the Squirrel [Prime]Registered User regular
    Rather than count to three, learn to pour a measure in a 4 count. That way you can do a half measure in 2. Practice pouring with water in an empty whiskey bottle NOT vodka. Mix them up on a customer and all hell breaks loose.

    Don't try to learn All The Drinks at once. Pick one, and practice it until you can get it right. Taste your drinks (insert straw, cover top with finger, remove straw and suck from the bottom end) before you serve them. Too strong? Too weak? Fix or remake.

    Practice and Be Patient. Cramming like it's an exam will do no good. They want you to learn on the job, so do that.

  • TruckTruck Registered User regular
    Do you have a bar menu? Having a menu that is basically the drinks you know how to make will deal with most of it - few people will order something that isn't on there, most will order from the menu.

  • wrong_buttonwrong_button Registered User regular
    I haven't been behind a bar in any serious capacity in nearly ten years, so I'm probably forgetting something. But here's my $0.02 from my time:

    Stay cool, pay attention, and mind what you're doing. Quality first, speed comes with time. Every bar is different, but you'll start catching on. Keep yourself reasonably organized, your work area/rails clean as you can, have a bar rag on you/in arms reach all the time.

    If you don't have a bar back running for you, watch your ice/garnish/glassware/bar rags especially at rushes. Get a decent wine key to keep on you if you're opening a lot of bottles. Same goes for bottle opener if you move a lot of bottled beer. Ditto for garnish tools or knife if you do a lot of fruit drinks. You can pick up a Bartender's Bible or whatever book, but in my experience I've only ever used those to settle bets or to find Some Weird Ass Drink for My Friend. Fair warning: if you leave it out somewhere visible, someone will try and order something dumb and time consuming out of it.

    Wine is something I deal with a lot today though. You want to learn about the wines you're selling, look them up online (don't panic if you can't find them, there are restaurant-only labels). Most big distribution wines have tasting notes out there. If you can, find out when your distributor reps come into the place and make an effort to be there. They can usually give you the high-level if you don't have the benefit of tasting them (which is really the only way to learn about wine). Also talk to those wine reps - a lot of mine have industry-only tasting events (for free) specifically for bar/wait staff to taste and find out about their wines at least once a year. One major distributor (without naming names, but begins with a "G" and they're OMG HUEG) even provides industry staff with access to online wine classes for free.

    Wine pairing is so subjective and specialized - you really just need to have a rough idea of the concept. I could write for hours on pairings and give you a reading list a mile long, but you really don't need it up front. Read a handful of articles and get a handle on the major varietals and the difference between old/new world, then see how that relates to what your hot bottles are on your list. Again, you'll start to see what goes out the door and where to spend your brainpower. If you have something they want you to move, you can always deep-dive notes on that (if they don't give them to you). But that $250 bottle of Opus? That's not gonna be an upsell. The guy who orders that either wants a bottle that costs that much to impress someone or knows exactly what he wants. Save your brain cells. Start by learning your popular bottles, work up from there later.

    Sounds like you have a full plate going into this, so focus on the heavily trafficked part of the drink menu and get comfortable there first. Then expand out. You'll learn your crowd fast - some times the best way to do that is to get thrown into the deep end. Good luck (and sorry for the giant post).

  • ninjaininjai Registered User regular
    edited July 2014
    Day 1 this guy had me researching all the scotches, not just the tasting notes, and the bottlings, but the companies history. (mac, dewar, balvenie, oban, no lagavulin sad to say @djeet if you're looking for peet) Day 2-3 same: only now with wine added. We serve chime pinot, but we have Charles Krug Mondavi wines (which if you feel like learning about, ask me I found the only way to learn about the mondavi family since it became so fractured), and 2 or 3 others that I'm going to get to tonight. Honestly, it is taking me from the moment I get home, til I go to bed to really uncover a lot of this information, and I still have a long way to go, macallen especially, their history goes back to the 1600's and remembering all the important names as talking points to sound like I know wtf I'm talking about, So I'm learning that stuff fairly well and has actually helped me out quite a bit in the last few days.

    Wine pairings, found a chart, is there any truth to this anyone with experience? Is it usable for amatuer wine drinkers? I think the cab is spot on since I bought the cab we sell and tried it with what the chart recommends.
    http://winefolly.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/basic-wine-pairing-chart.png

    Also one problem for me is we don't have a cocktail menu, so I don't know which drinks to learn first. I've been asking the staff what they make the most of, and asked the manager for the top 10 drinks he sells, and for the most organized manager I've ever had, he said he'd have to get back to me on that.

    Margarita's, Bloody Mary's, x-coke's, x-sour's are the most popular, and he's trying to move it on to a "better" bar crowd since we aren't open past 10, so we can sell better quality drinks.

    This has been good advice so far. Most of it I've read elsewhere, but it is reassuring to know that I'm doing the right things. Plus some good additional perspectives to go along with it. Quality service, and speed with time... and just expand knowledge and drink repertoire seems to be the consensus?

    Any other tips, and thanks for typing it all out, I read all of your comments. Thank you :) This has been an encouraging thread so far.

    ninjai on
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  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    GET COMFORTABLE SUPPORTIVE SHOES!!!

    http://www.jeffreymorgenthaler.com/2014/bar-tools-for-your-feet/

    There's some alternative recommendations in the comments too,



    His videos are great too. I particularly like

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  • UsagiUsagi Nah Registered User regular
    Paging @Darth Waiter

    Skeith
  • JaysonFourJaysonFour Classy Monster Kitteh Registered User regular
    Might be a good point to start learning when it's time to cut someone off after they've had too many. At least know the local taxi srvice's number by heart so people can get home safe and pick up cars tomorrow, after they sleep it off.

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  • Darth WaiterDarth Waiter Elrond Hubbard Mordor XenuRegistered User regular
    @ninjai‌

    I'm going to answer as many questions as I can, but it's not going to be until later in the day after I get off work.

    JaysonFour
  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    For the love of god, don't put ice in pure liquor drinks like old fashioneds etc. Makes me want to stab people.

  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    schuss wrote: »
    For the love of god, don't put ice in pure liquor drinks like old fashioneds etc. Makes me want to stab people.

    ...Old Fashions have ice in them. Like, it's part of the definition. By all means order them without it if you dislike it but assuming they'll make a cocktail in a nonstandard fashion is a bit goosey.

    zerzhulUsagitynicASimPersonEshchrishallett83
  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    schuss wrote: »
    For the love of god, don't put ice in pure liquor drinks like old fashioneds etc. Makes me want to stab people.

    ...Old Fashions have ice in them. Like, it's part of the definition. By all means order them without it if you dislike it but assuming they'll make a cocktail in a nonstandard fashion is a bit goosey.

    Every good old-fashioned I've had hasn't contained ice. I guess I'm a goose then.

  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    schuss wrote: »
    schuss wrote: »
    For the love of god, don't put ice in pure liquor drinks like old fashioneds etc. Makes me want to stab people.

    ...Old Fashions have ice in them. Like, it's part of the definition. By all means order them without it if you dislike it but assuming they'll make a cocktail in a nonstandard fashion is a bit goosey.

    Every good old-fashioned I've had hasn't contained ice. I guess I'm a goose then.

    That isn't what I'm saying.

    I'm not saying they're better with it, just that the recipe for an "Old Fashioned" includes it. Every one I've seen includes it and I just double checked over at the IBA site.

    I'm saying what you want is an "Old Fashioned, without ice".

    Being upset about it, and hey your original statement was probably hyperbole, is a bit like being pissed when you order a margarita and find out it's got tequila in it.

    Esh
  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    Sure you aren't thinking of a Manhattan?

    How do you spell Justice?B D S Non-Violent Resistance to Israel Apartheid & Occupation.
  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    Ha, sorry if I sounded upset (I'm not), just saying I prefer mine without ice. I had the good fortune of spending some time in Oakland, land of high-end cocktails, and no old fashioned I got there ever had ice, thus my confusion.

  • Darth WaiterDarth Waiter Elrond Hubbard Mordor XenuRegistered User regular
    Okay, starting from scratch, I'm going to focus on what I believe is the most important part of bartending, be it as a temporary gig or a long term career:

    Responsible Service.

    I won't belabor the obvious facts of the effects of alcohol nor will I split hairs over BMI (Body Mass Index) or the laws in your particular part of the country/world.

    What I *will* focus on is what it means to be responsible, both as a patron and part of the staff.

    As a patron of most customer service venues, it's their responsibility to manage their money, personal possessions and overall attitude; when alcohol becomes involved, much of that responsibility shifts to the shoulders of the staff, and with good reason. When a patron is out and about, drinking and having a good time, the focus becomes more about the experience and less about being semi-paranoid that someone is going to take advantage of a situation.

    As part of the staff, it is absolutely paramount that you monitor service, consumption and attitude. A good deal of that focus and practice comes from consistently mingling with all of your guests, favoring no one particular person over another and making sure everyone gets a fair and/or equitable amount of attention. What follows are just a few ways of acquiring and maintaining rapport with your guests.

    1. The Table Touch - This is something managers like to do and it's a great little mnemonic trick I picked up: you actually touch the table (or rail in front of the seat) when you speak to someone. It's not meant to be an intrusive gesture, one or two fingers on the edge of the table is usually enough to lightly make your presence known and then move on or stay and provide whatever service is necessary. A long-time friend of mine actually had a neat trick to help him remember what was being ordered at what table: he would actually lay down X number of fingers for the table number ex. three down on the left hand and four down on the right was Table 34, and then touching the underside of the table two up on the left hand and three up on the right hand was Table 78. Try it if you get some slow periods in your shift and see if it clicks for you (I had a totally different system based on something that only works with my weird brain meats).

    2. Greeting People and Repeating Their Names Immediately - It's old, it's obvious, but it works pretty damn well when you have to get someone's attention when they have their backs to you at a crowded lounge or a super-loud nightclub. As stated, it's old and obvious, so expect some push-back from people who don't like their names being broadcast; this is especially important for ladies who may be alone or in groups and are a particular focus for unwanted attention.

    3. Memorizing Drink Orders - This has a twofold benefit. Firstly, you start to look like a boss when you can have a drink order memorized without any mistakes, people are generally impressed with feats of memory. Secondly, you have the ability to track consumption based upon the frequency and composition of their drink orders. While this is primarily important for serving guests across the rail or at a cocktail table, it has a great secondary benefit when you are working the service bar at a restaurant (which you are) to be able to monitor alcohol consumption across the entire establishment. Servers get hectic, they get distracted, they make mistakes like everyone and over-serving at a table is something you have the power to prevent. It doesn't take but thirty seconds for a manager or supervisor to be informed that 'hey, Table 12 is knocking down the whiskey, I think Jake may need a hand.'

    Now, this is just a basic primer on service, your policies will vary widely upon your location, your establishment and even the mood of the Manager on Duty; your primary goal is to remember that it is always better to be safe than sorry.

    1. Enhance Your Calm, John Spartan - People will say stupid and aggressive things without a drop of booze in them and that shit is totally not your fault ... but it is your problem as long as they are in your establishment. Your reactions need to be measured, controlled and firm. You don't have to scream, you don't even need to raise your voice or cross your arms, just respond with, 'Sorry, guy, house rules, I can't lose my job over this.' Hell, you don't even have to engage with that, just point at your boss standing right behind you, watching you like a hawk. If the patron has an ounce of sense, they'll drop it and move on.

    2. Be Well, Lenina Huxley - Wish your patrons a good night, invite them back. Remind them that you'll be on shift later in the week, you can totally hang out then, you'll totally watch that Youtube video with the cat when you get home ... No matter how you disengage, you want to disengage with a positive attitude and a benediction for their continued good health and safety (and money).

    3. You forgot to say Simon Says - The words 'please' and 'thank you' are pretty powerful when it comes to customer service and even more so when it comes alcohol service; sometimes, it's a simple matter of practicing the proper placement of words in your bathroom mirror:

    - "Hey, please let me do the right thing here and call you a taxi."

    - "I've had a few friends get hit with some pretty heavy fines; I'd be grateful if we called your boyfriend to come pick you up."

    - "You're one of my best regulars and I wouldn't like *you* to get into any kind of trouble."

    These kinds of statements are meant to be used when you've established some kind of rapport with your guest, but they aren't always effective, you have to pick and choose who they fit and when.

    I'm kind of rambling and starbursting now, so I'll write up something later on speed and efficiency and then maybe something later on the varieties of drink recipes and the importance of experimentation at home.

    Keep us posted!

    UsagitynicDevoutlyApatheticASimPersonKyouguSkeithzerzhulJaysonFourAngelinadavidsdurionswrong_buttonNijaTofystedethForceVoidVestychrishallett83SorceCalixtusLostNinja
  • ASimPersonASimPerson And they will tremble again at the sound of our silence.Registered User regular
    edited July 2014
    schuss wrote: »
    Ha, sorry if I sounded upset (I'm not), just saying I prefer mine without ice. I had the good fortune of spending some time in Oakland, land of high-end cocktails, and no old fashioned I got there ever had ice, thus my confusion.

    While I've never had an Old Fashioned in Oakland, I've had 'em in San Francisco and San Jose and they usually have either a giant cube or giant ice ball in them.

    That said, http://oldfashioned101.com/ lists the ice as optional, so you could definitely do it with out. Also there are similar drinks that don't have ice, like Sazeracs.

    ASimPerson on
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    Esh
  • ASimPersonASimPerson And they will tremble again at the sound of our silence.Registered User regular
    1. Enhance Your Calm, John Spartan - People will say stupid and aggressive things without a drop of booze in them and that shit is totally not your fault ... but it is your problem as long as they are in your establishment. Your reactions need to be measured, controlled and firm. You don't have to scream, you don't even need to raise your voice or cross your arms, just respond with, 'Sorry, guy, house rules, I can't lose my job over this.' Hell, you don't even have to engage with that, just point at your boss standing right behind you, watching you like a hawk. If the patron has an ounce of sense, they'll drop it and move on.

    To add my own anecdote here, this is really huge.

    One of the newer bartenders at my favorite bar had to cut off someone one night, and it was the first time he had to do it. The situation quickly got uncomfortable for everyone, as the patron whipped out her phone and told him to say that again so she could... sue him or something? She started making threats and it got weird. Either way, you need to be firm, calm, and make sure you have that non-verbal communication going with your manager so they can take the person aside.

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    Darth Waiter
  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    ASimPerson wrote: »
    schuss wrote: »
    Ha, sorry if I sounded upset (I'm not), just saying I prefer mine without ice. I had the good fortune of spending some time in Oakland, land of high-end cocktails, and no old fashioned I got there ever had ice, thus my confusion.

    While I've never had an Old Fashioned in Oakland, I've had 'em in San Francisco and San Jose and they usually have either a giant cube or giant ice ball in them.

    That said, http://oldfashioned101.com/ lists the ice as optional, so you could definitely do it with out. Also there are similar drinks that don't have ice, like Sazeracs.

    If you ever want a stunning old fashioned, go here: http://www.bardogwood.com/

  • ASimPersonASimPerson And they will tremble again at the sound of our silence.Registered User regular
    Awesome, I will keep that in mind if/when I find myself in Oakland again.

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  • SatanIsMyMotorSatanIsMyMotor Registered User regular
    schuss wrote: »
    schuss wrote: »
    For the love of god, don't put ice in pure liquor drinks like old fashioneds etc. Makes me want to stab people.

    ...Old Fashions have ice in them. Like, it's part of the definition. By all means order them without it if you dislike it but assuming they'll make a cocktail in a nonstandard fashion is a bit goosey.

    Every good old-fashioned I've had hasn't contained ice. I guess I'm a goose then.

    That isn't what I'm saying.

    I'm not saying they're better with it, just that the recipe for an "Old Fashioned" includes it. Every one I've seen includes it and I just double checked over at the IBA site.

    I'm saying what you want is an "Old Fashioned, without ice".

    Being upset about it, and hey your original statement was probably hyperbole, is a bit like being pissed when you order a margarita and find out it's got tequila in it.

    A proper Old Fashioned does not have ice. The ice dilutes the spirits and puts a timer on your drink. Take too long to drink an Old Fashioned with ice in it? Well, eventually it will be ruined (re: diluted).

    That being said, cocktails have evolved over time so it's actually more common to get an Old Fashioned today with ice than without. Personally, I prefer mine with ice - but it's not the original way it was done.

  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    schuss wrote: »
    schuss wrote: »
    For the love of god, don't put ice in pure liquor drinks like old fashioneds etc. Makes me want to stab people.

    ...Old Fashions have ice in them. Like, it's part of the definition. By all means order them without it if you dislike it but assuming they'll make a cocktail in a nonstandard fashion is a bit goosey.

    Every good old-fashioned I've had hasn't contained ice. I guess I'm a goose then.

    That isn't what I'm saying.

    I'm not saying they're better with it, just that the recipe for an "Old Fashioned" includes it. Every one I've seen includes it and I just double checked over at the IBA site.

    I'm saying what you want is an "Old Fashioned, without ice".

    Being upset about it, and hey your original statement was probably hyperbole, is a bit like being pissed when you order a margarita and find out it's got tequila in it.

    A proper Old Fashioned does not have ice. The ice dilutes the spirits and puts a timer on your drink. Take too long to drink an Old Fashioned with ice in it? Well, eventually it will be ruined (re: diluted).

    That being said, cocktails have evolved over time so it's actually more common to get an Old Fashioned today with ice than without. Personally, I prefer mine with ice - but it's not the original way it was done.

    Again, I'm going by what is described by the IBA as the recipe (and everybody I know who has taught me about cocktails but anecdote lol) Is there a better resource here you're using?

    I am saying nothing about the virtue of the drink without ice, shit, I think it sounds tasty! Never been a huge fan of ice in any drinks so maybe next time I'm at the bar I'll order one like that and enjoy it.

    But I'll do it by saying "Old Fashioned, no ice please."

  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    I think the general thing is that anytime a drink is almost entirely alcohol, ask if they want ice or not

  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    schuss wrote: »
    I think the general thing is that anytime a drink is almost entirely alcohol, ask if they want ice or not

    To kinda veer dangerously close to being on topic..

    If he's at a restaurant he's not going to be interacting with a good portion of his drinkers. Really in this case I'd just ask my manager how to handle it on a general case. Hewing to something like the IBA leaves you in a defensible position but I would still expect if a customer has an issue that most places would just fix it and write if off. The bar, even if totally right, won't end up a winner by arguing about it.

    ninjai
  • DeebaserDeebaser on my way to work in a suit and a tie Ahhhh...come on fucking guyRegistered User regular
    I think we can all agree that crushed ice in an old fashioned is some straight up bullshit.

    YOLO. Swag. Whatever. Fuck it. Lets do this.
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  • SatanIsMyMotorSatanIsMyMotor Registered User regular
    My info is all anecdotal too actually so take it for what it's worth. My understanding was that many cocktails were originally considered medicine (specifically because many contained bitters and were considered to be hangover cures) and, as such, weren't actually used as refreshments. The other thing is that a cocktail is often supposed to be a "contemplative" drink. Meaning that one is expected to take some time to actually finish the drink. In that case, ice would eventually ruin it.

  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    Deebaser wrote: »
    I think we can all agree that crushed ice in an old fashioned is some straight up bullshit.

    IDK, if you omit the splash of water, a whole shit ton crushed ice adds that slight dilution for you like in a mint Julep. That said I've always been partial to the taste & mouthfeel of drinks with ice slivers in them.

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  • AkilaeAkilae Registered User regular
    edited July 2014
    To this day I'm still trying to figure out why, all of a sudden, I'm being asked by bartenders "Up or on the rocks?" when I order a martini. The first time it happened I was so taken aback the bartender felt the urge to explain "Do you want that with or without ice?"

    Akilae on
  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    Probably because at this point the majority of "martinis" they make are not gin+vermouth, they are blueberry-choco-peach-cobler-tinis. Which have so much sugar and artificial flavor a bag of ice won't hurt them.

    How do you spell Justice?B D S Non-Violent Resistance to Israel Apartheid & Occupation.
  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    If someone put ice in my martini I'd probably just pour it out on the bar in front of them.

    DevoutlyApatheticMichaelLCASimPersonninjaiLoveIsUnitySkeith
  • witch_iewitch_ie Registered User regular
    Incidentally, my husband uses the old fashioned as a test of the cocktails for bars when he travels. It the old fashioned is good, he'll order more cocktails. If not, he will switch to beer. If the owner of your bar is looking for more discerning clientele with respect to cocktails, that would probably be a good drink to learn to make well. If you're not sure it's right, then I would suggest going to a bar in your area that's known for having excellent cocktails and trying one.

  • chrishallett83chrishallett83 Hi! Registered User regular
    Deebaser wrote: »
    I think we can all agree that crushed ice in an old fashioned is some straight up bullshit.

    Yep. They're supposed to have a big ice ball in them. Maximum cold, minimum dilution.

    tynic
  • ASimPersonASimPerson And they will tremble again at the sound of our silence.Registered User regular
    schuss wrote: »
    ASimPerson wrote: »
    schuss wrote: »
    Ha, sorry if I sounded upset (I'm not), just saying I prefer mine without ice. I had the good fortune of spending some time in Oakland, land of high-end cocktails, and no old fashioned I got there ever had ice, thus my confusion.

    While I've never had an Old Fashioned in Oakland, I've had 'em in San Francisco and San Jose and they usually have either a giant cube or giant ice ball in them.

    That said, http://oldfashioned101.com/ lists the ice as optional, so you could definitely do it with out. Also there are similar drinks that don't have ice, like Sazeracs.

    If you ever want a stunning old fashioned, go here: http://www.bardogwood.com/

    This Old Fashioned totally has ice in it.

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  • ninjaininjai Registered User regular
    edited July 2014
    so update:
    We sell:
    Bloody Marys
    Margarita's
    Beer (mostly coors and bud light)
    Yes most of my drinks are house drinks not bar drinks (i pour drinks for the restaurant as well as at the bar)

    OCCASIONALLY I'll be asked for a something and coke, or your basics like long islands, tequila sunrise, and really just boring shit. It turns out that this is mostly a country bar, and learning drinks that they serve has been really simple. It was information overload, but really, good customer service and a smile has made me 300 dollars in 3 days, despite royally skrewing things up a few times (a medium will steak instead of a medium rare, which meant an additional 20 minute wait for the customer on food).

    We have a huge bartending area, and the biggest problem I had with the speed and multitasking is that it is 5 steps from the counter where customers are to the good booze, and only 1 of the 5 stations is set up with full well assortment. I had to take 15-20 steps to make a margarita and back, while a trio of people were waiting on their coors refills. I set up a second station on the other side of the bar and things are going relatively smoothly now. I'm even pretty well versed on the menu for only working there for 3 days by myself.

    What I'm doing is pushing the classic drinks like martini's, manhattans, old fashioneds, and a few special mixes I've come up with (ace of spades 1 shot dissarono, 1 shot crown, top with coke, a special in house fruity blend using our strawberry lemonade and a few others) to good success so far. If I have the success I've been having with martini's I'm going to push for a martini night to help spice up typically slow days (which look like tues thurs) and maybe hopefully get the hipster crowd from the campus in here.

    Thanks for the tips guys, i learned a lot from some of the stuff in here. Thanks for the advice, I'll post something again if I have anymore questions.
    schuss wrote: »
    I think the general thing is that anytime a drink is almost entirely alcohol, ask if they want ice or not

    It depends. If it's a classic drink, there is a way to serve it, rocks, up, or neat. Rocks is obvious, up means mixed with ice, shaken or stirred, and strained of ice, neat meaning neither of those, just alcohol. If it is straight whisky, I'll ask rocks or neat, (and as a whiskey drinker, I serve the rocks on the side, so they can add as much ice as the want, for me I typically want 1 or 2 small pieces, others like a glassful :/)if it's a vodka cocktail I'll ask up or rocks cuz you don't want neat vodka if it isn't chilled, and tequila also.

    But a martini is served up, period. You don't want rocks in your martini. Blech. Watered down booze is awful. But in general, the drink will tell you how to serve it, unless they specify otherwise.

    ninjai on
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