Conversations with a bartender

Bar managers have periods. Let that sink in.

Drinking Pliny through a straw because that's how I roll

Drinking Pliny through a straw because that’s how I roll

Every 2 weeks we pull our entire inventory–every bottle of beer, wine, and booze is pulled, counted, and noted down to the tenth of a bottle. The primary reason is to compare our P&L. We purchase booze several times per week to replenish stock and acquire new inventory. This is weighed against the sales to make sure that we aren’t over, or under purchasing.  Basically, on top of being good at fishing out a piece of broken glass from the floor drain we need to know excel and how to build a spreadsheet.  It’s part of the job, it’s what we do; at least the ones that have longevity in their positions.

Last week, on a beautiful Monday morning, I was on my period. Making note that Ketel1, Bombay Sapphire, Hendricks, and Balvenie were all needed which thankfully meant that I could spread that fucking delivery charge over a few sku’s. These menial tasks leave time to reflect on the insignificance of some parts of this job.  It’s not really important to differentiate between Daiquiris number’s 3 & 5 from La Floridita’s manual published in Cuba. We’re not performing open-heart surgery.  More eloquent people than I have pointed out that we aren’t saving lives.

Without getting cheeky or too far into it just yet, those that tend to a bar do have the ability to make someone’s day a little bit better.  And that’s actually a big fucking deal. In this day and age it’s easy to dismiss our ability to make a difference in someone’s day; this is enshrouded usually in some put-on of faux humility. I’m not important, I’m just a bartender, I just make drinks. You say this as you stir in your Japanese bar glass, with your paddle spoon: an old-fashioned, with your new favorite rye, decanter bitters, and no fruit, you’re a goddamn purist. If all of those elements are important to you, then it should be genuinely important if I am having a good day. If a bartender cares more about where they source the ice for their drinks than the record of the Nuggets: you’re doing it wrong. Go out on a limb and discuss the Oscars, talk about the weather, bitch and moan about the late start of the NHL this year; fuck: complain about the Broncos, we’re all on the same page about that.

Pres. Taft, because everyone should know a thing or two about this guy.

Pres. Taft, because everyone should know a thing or two about this guy.

This column isn’t about pontificating about**
A.) the differences between wheated and non-wheated Bourbon,
B.) whether the rye in your bottle was distilled in Kentucky or Indiana
C.) or whether it’s proper to use pomegranate or raspberry in your pink lady.

I’ll leave those questions to the experts, and if you’re curious I’ll point you in the correct direction or give you a short snappy answer.  The purpose of this column is to get down on paper the little 150 words of conversation that I have with my guests over the course of an evening about the Oscars, the NHL lockout, and the fucking debt ceiling.

What questions do you have for this bubbling bartender, this rambling renaissance man, this gregarious gentleman? Leave ’em, and I’ll answer them.

A.) wheated bourbon tends to be ‘softer’ and more corn dominant because there is a lack of rye in the recipe. Traditional non-wheated bourbon included the rye grain because it added spice and complexity. Your flavor, your choice.
B.) Chances are if it’s new, boutiquey, and small batch, that shit was made in Indiana, especially if the distillery is a year old and their whisky is 5 years old.
C.) It’s up to you my friend. Try them both and get back to me.

About Kevin Burke

Kevin is an occasional barman and fulltime practitioner of the Janitorial Arts at Colt & Gray.