Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Bartending 101: First Day of School

For the next eight Tuesdays, I will be reposting "vintage" posts that had previously only appeared on the now-defunct blog SorryIGotDrunk.com. This is the first post in an 8-part series called "Bartending 101." Enjoy!

Because my boss has yet to realize my true financial potential, and I got screwed over by my last roommate moving out on a whim, I need to make some extra cash – and fast.  After evaluating my limited talents (my proficiency in flirting and the ampleness of my chest), I decide the solution is obvious: Bartending!

I show up to my first class having no clue whatsoever of what’s in store for me.  But the minute I see the classroom I feel right at home.  The room is an L-shaped bar with stools. It’s the best classroom I’ve ever been into.  I wish college classes were like this.  We’d all hunker up to the bar, order a round of Jack and Cokes, and talk about Milton’s Paradise Lost.  I’d have never ditched class.  Hell, I’d be the first one there everyday.

I know going into Bartending that I’m stepping into a predominantly male field. But I had no idea walking in that the teacher and I would be the only girls in the class. One of the guys quickly approaches me and introduces himself.  He says his name which I immediately forget, and outlines his stats within the first five minutes of our knowing each other: he’s single, lives nearby, and has no kids.  Chatty Charlie then goes on to tell me how he used to make bank at his last job, but left it to learn bartending.  “Just to try something new,” he adds.  I consider telling Sir Talksalot to just give me his 8x10 glossy and leave me the hell alone, when our teacher Betty introduces herself.

Betty’s in her early 30’s and she’s been bartending for over 8 years, mostly at studio events.  She gives us a short lecture on the house rules.  No food or drink.  Smoke outside. Study hard.  She gets sidetracked and goes on about Oliver Stone and how he’s a bad tipper.  She must have forgotten that in L.A. it’s no big deal to have met someone famous, because she goes on to tell us how Oliver hit on her once his date went to the john.

Her anecdote finished, we’re given a manual with all the recipes we’ll need to know…a total of 200.  Before I can start feeling overwhelmed, Betty’s telling us to get behind the bar and mix some drinks.  The only drink I’ve ever made before this is popping open a can of beer, and now I’m supposed to be making Black Russians, Godfathers, Rusty Nails, and Blowjob shots.

The liquids we’re mixing with are fusions of various coloring and water.  We don’t get to taste the drinks we make, unless we want a mouthful of paint and food coloring.  Just getting used to where everything is takes too much thought.  There are bottles in the well in front of me, all my mixers in the juice jockey, a variety of glasses to make any drink, and all the call alcohol bottles that make up the back bar.  

After practicing for an hour Betty turns down the rock music blaring throughout the room.  Time for us to do drills.  She’ll yell out four rounds of drinks, three drinks in each round.  She’s timing us to see how fast we can make them.  To graduate, we will have to make all 12 drinks in 7 minutes or less.

She cranks the music back up and yells out the first round.  I barely hear her over the noise.  I think she said she wants a Dirty Mother, a Kamikaze shot, and a Brave Bull.  I’m trying to remember the order of the alcohol bottles in my well and what’s in each drink.  At this point it’s hard to even remember the three drinks themselves.  But the timer is going.  People are bumping into me to grab bottles from the back bar and to get more ice.  It’s completely insane.  But at the same time I’m thinking how totally cool this all is.

Eleven minutes and forty seconds later, I call out “Time!”  Betty tells me my time and I look around.  I’m one of the last ones to finish. 

Chatterbox approaches me to ask me what my time was.  I assume that this means he’s done pretty well.  “Eleven-forty,” I tell him.  “Oh, I got eight-twenty,” he gloats.  

Damn.  Well, we’ll see how far I get playing with the big boys…But for now I’ll have to remain in last place. 

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