Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Ever since I've been of legal drinking age, I have toyed with the idea of becoming a bartender. The money's good and it seems like it would be a blast, assuming you can get a job in a bar with decent, friendly customers. Besides, I like to drink and I like to encourage others to do so. So when asked about my plans to make/save money while in grad school, I have been telling everyone that I'm hoping to land a bartending gig in Boston.

Step #1 of this plan: Go to bartending school so that I can actually learn how to make Alabama Slammers and Woo Woo shooters.

Tonight will be my third class at New England Bartending School (NEBS), a company that, despite its name, has training programs in all 50 states. So far, the best part about school has been the awesome accents of my instructors and fellow classmates. Oh, and the really dated training videos that accompany the course. The one we watched on the first night had a voice-over that announced that "the food and beverage industry has been expanding rapidly in the past decade, and studies indicate that it will continue to grow at this pace at least until the year 2005."

The video also attributed the rising popularity of bartending to the success of the "recent Tom Cruise movie, 'Cocktail.'" I was in 2nd grade when Cocktail came out, friends.

Then there was the 10-minute instructional video on garnishes, or rather, "gahnishes." This one had a soundtrack of Thai house music and the script sounded like it had been written in a language other than English, and then poorly translated. Phrases like "Here is to be your lemon twist" and "Yellow is your lemon skin" flashed across the screen during a close-up shot of a man peeling a lemon on a cutting board. Lemon twists, FYI, are considered to be the "hahdest gahnish." Then, an important bit of information, delivered with requisite solemnity:

"The pineapple is a very important gahnish."

The first step in cutting a pineapple open is to "disregahd the leafy stem."

Guys, garnishes are like super-important. This strikes me as odd -- I never notice them, personally. But apparently, garnishes are what distinguishes the men from the boys in the bartending world. Garnish right, or get packing.

My instructor Mark has a mantra: "work smaht, not hahd." Yesterday, we made mahgahritas; today, it's mahtinis. Learning the fancy names is going to be tough -- seriously, did you know a rum and coke is technically a Cuba Libra? I shit you not. Next time you go into a bar, try ordering that and see what happens. I bet $10 the bartender thinks you're talking about a bad Jack Black film about Mexican wrestling.

1 comment:

Jessica said...

Good luck with this plan!

Bahtending was fun some of the time (read: you're sort of expected to drink on the job), but watch out for the sexual harassment. It is not cool at all. And though I am sassy and not shy, I could not graciously ignore certain comments. It was tough!

I learned this during my brief tenure as a bar wench at the Ash Creek Saloon (yes, a Saloon) in Bridgeport, CT., the summer before I started working for Glenn.