Last night I had my first foray into being on the opposite side of the bar then I usually attend...the side where there is less drinking...well....kind of. The host of my travel show is the music consultant of a SoHo club. I had expressed interest into learning how to sling our modern day poison. She passed on my request and thus, I got to train behind the bar last night, and hopefully other nights to come.
The club is really nice and Wednesdays are a slow night in retrospect. They had DJ's playing house music and their was much dancing. I showed up at 9pm, I don't think we saw a person until 11pm. By Midnight the crowd was getting thicker. From 12 to about 12:45am it was a bit busy, and then the pace slowed to like a drizzle until about 3am. By then, there were maybe 6 people left, by 3:15 am they closed entry, and by 3:30 am the place was empty completely. I stayed until about 4:45 am, watching my trusty mentor, Tristan, a very good looking (in that typical Bartender/NY fashion) close out, count money, wash glasses, etc.
I was originally set to "shadow" him, meaning follow and watch, but it became very appearent that for me to actually learn anything, I was going to have to....like...do stuff. So, slowly and surely, I started to make drinks and grab beers. Beers are of course way easy, $6, Corona's get a lime. I made anything else that didn't require much thought, i.e., Gin and Tonic's, Vodka with this, vodka with that. Anything that I didn't know how to make I just asked Tristan to make and then I watched. I got a lot of waters and sodas.
So all in all, once you know the more "complicated" drinks, i.e, cosmopolitan's, silk panties (Vodka, peach snapps, with a splash of Cran), kamikaze shots, margarita's and such, and then you have a feel for how the computer system works, and how much everything cost......well....that's really all there is to it. I quite enjoyed the experience. Being behind the bar, was way better then being in front, that's for sure. In the course of my first night, and not even being anywhere close to an actual bartender, I received three kisses on the cheek, two winks, a request to dance. That's more action than I have had in months.
Tristan explained the scenario. "Women like to feel powerful over the guy behind the bar. I don't know what it is, they just like it. It's not the same way with men and female bartender's." I would have to agree, having done my share of "hitting on" female bartender's. I wonder why that is?
I did learn some very interesting things about bars in general. This might surprise some, this first bit makes me want to open a bar. The establishment makes a profit.....after the first drink they sell. For example. A Vodka Tonic at this establishment cost $8......that's with well liqour mind you. Now, $8 is a bit pricy, even for Manhattan and especially for well liqour. But the BOTTLE of Vodka....the entire bottle cost $6. So that one drink just threw that whole bottle into the 100% profit range after one drink. So it makes sense, points out my mentor, that for the extra dollar, you might as well buy top-shelf liqour.
So after really only 4 hours of actual bartending, but 8 hours of work, including setting up and breaking down.....I was curious, on this slow night, a Wednesday, how much my mentor made. The bar-back, who did nothing but cut limes and lemons and buss glasses was tipped out $75 from the bartender, he tried to give me $50. I told him that wasn't fair, I was here to learn and I really didn't do too much, so he gave me $30, which I accepted and half went into a cab home. All in all he walked away with $290 himself. The bar made about $1,400. A quarter of what it makes on say, a Friday or Saturday, but then of course there are three bartender's and not just one.
So let's throw these numbers into perspective, from my point of view. Let's say you work three slow nights a week, like a Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Let's say you average $300 a night......$900 a week...that's like $3,600 a month....which ends up being $43,200 a year.......under the table mind you...so to speak. And that's only 3 days a week.....12 days a month...roughly 40% of the year......Out of 365 days, you work 144.....and have 221 days off!?!?!?!
Am I insane, or is that crazy? No wonder so many people put themselves through college bartending, and no wonder so many people bartend through the summer non-stop and then take extended vacations. And that's just all figuring that your working slow nights. What about the people who bartend on Friday and Saturday and make a considerable amount more than the slow nights?
This is all very interesting. Something I think would be perfect for my interim between the end of this job and possible Peace Corps service. And it's such a good fall back skill. Anywhere you go in the world, you could always find a job bartending if you had the experience.
I love fall-back skills. You can never have enough of em. So I work next Wednesday too, I probably won't stay till close, because I'm doing this animation gig that week, which I'm STOKED about, because it means I won't be working in the office at all. But I hope I can keep this thing going for a while, I mean, I'm not getting paid, so what do they have to lose?? And then maybe I can scoot right in there at a later date, or start bar-backing for pay, or just use them as a reference for another bar.
Doing the bull dance...feeling the flow.