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Drinks Bartenders Hate to Make


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#1 eje

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 12:03 PM

Five drinks that bartenders just hate to make

"Being in the hospitality industry, bartenders don't like to grumble. But there are certain drinks they hate to make."

Lemon Drop, Manhattan, Cosmo, Mojito, and "another bar's specialty cocktails"?

I can see being sick of making all those Lemon Drops and Cosmos, and that Mojitos are a bit of a pain. But, if you're a bartender and sick of making Manhattans or learning new drinks, it seems like maybe you're in the wrong field...

Are there any drinks that spark fear or hatred in your spleen? Or, on the other hand, is there a drink order that brings a smile to your face and cheer to your heart?
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#2 slkinsey

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 12:18 PM

Bartender Noah Esperas of le Duplex in San Francisco says, "Go to a restaurant if you want a real Mojito."

He warns, "Honestly, if I am slammed at 1 a.m. and someone asks for four Mojitos, I won't make them. If it costs $9 for a Mojito and $8 for a Grey Goose (vodka), the bar isn't losing much and I can make up for it in tips with the other people by saving time."

I really don't have a lot of respect for this kind of attitude. I've seen the bartenders at Flatiron Lounge bang out one labor intensive specialty cocktail after another while completely slammed on a weekend night.

That said, I can understand that it may be a pain in the butt to make things like a Martini or a Manhattan that have a high probability of generating complaints due to the fact that there are so many different ideas about how they are made. For example, I know of bartenders at locations where the "super extra dry" Martini is in vogue who simply don't bother using any vermouth at all -- and yet a few people will still try to return one every night because it's "not dry enough."
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#3 Snowy is dead

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 12:29 PM

I would have to say that making martini style drinks with sugar rims always seems to annoy me. More for the fact that the sugar makes a mess, gets sticky, etc., than any real aversion to the process.

About the only time I hate a making a drink is when someone wants something they got at another bar but can't remember what is in it and I don't know the drink. They almost always forget something or it comes out differently, whatever.

Oh, I don't like doing tea or coffee. Maybe just a leftover scar from working too many lunches as a waiter, but that seems to get me pretty good.

#4 Snowy is dead

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 12:31 PM

I really don't have a lot of respect for this kind of attitude.  I've seen the bartenders at Flatiron Lounge bang out one labor intensive specialty cocktail after another while completely slammed on a weekend night.

Good point. That is what separates the good from the bad, I guess. I can see if you have to hand whip cream for 10 coffee drinks while the bar is 4 deep, maybe, but not making a standard like a mojito or 4 ingredient cocktail because you are busy is kind of silly.

#5 cocktailgeek

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 12:51 PM

Bartender Noah Esperas of le Duplex in San Francisco says, "Go to a restaurant if you want a real Mojito."

He warns, "Honestly, if I am slammed at 1 a.m. and someone asks for four Mojitos, I won't make them. If it costs $9 for a Mojito and $8 for a Grey Goose (vodka), the bar isn't losing much and I can make up for it in tips with the other people by saving time."

I really don't have a lot of respect for this kind of attitude. I've seen the bartenders at Flatiron Lounge bang out one labor intensive specialty cocktail after another while completely slammed on a weekend night.


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"Go to a restaurant if you want a real Bartender..." This may explain why I don't go to clubs anymore.

The one that gets me is the Irish Car Bomb. Besides being a strong contender for "Most Tasteless Drink Name Ever", it leaves the glasses covered in vomit-like slime.
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#6 Jamie B

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 01:22 PM

The drink that I hate to make is the chocolate "martini". It is an unrational hatred, true, but every time I make this drink with the dreaded "martini" attached to it, I can't help but think that I should be in the dessert section and not the bar. I can't help but shake my head (internally) whenever someone orders this liquid dessert right before enjoying an eight course meal.
And of course there is the cosmo. I like to say that "every time someone orders a cosmo, an angel rips off his wings." It stuns me when people walk into a bar with an interesting cocktail program and refuse to look at the menu placed in front of them and order the same old boring, indistinct drink that you can get at any bar in the world. Adventure and imagination do truly seem to be lacking at times.
On the other hand, whenever someone orders a Widow's Kiss, Pegu Club or Aviation (oh my), it makes me smile, as I know balance is key, and a challenge awaits.

#7 lancastermike

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 01:52 PM

I worked with a guy who would refuse to make a Jack Daniels and Coke. He drank his Jack on the rocks and would not pollute it by adding coke.

I learned to despise the frozen strawberry daiquiri. I got to the point of wanting to throw the blender in the trashcan. Not only did I find the drink to be vile in its own right, but also it was such a time killer when busy. This was in the 80's and they were so popular and the gunk we had to mix them with was just so horrible. Red colored thickened corn syrup. It still makes me sick.

edited for spelling

Edited by lancastermike, 06 April 2006 - 01:53 PM.


#8 Sneakeater

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 02:06 PM

I don't want to be crude, but if any bartender doesn't like making Manhattans he or she can go fuck him or herself.

#9 cocktailgeek

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 02:07 PM

I just noticed this line in the Chronicle article: "To top it off, Mojitos must be shaken." No wonder they take so long to make... :wacko:
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#10 johnder

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 02:29 PM

I don't want to be crude, but if any bartender doesn't like making Manhattans he or she can go fuck him or herself.

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I totally agree! The quote from this guy is total bs:

Bartender Eric Berchtold of the Cinch in San Francisco says he doesn't like to make Manhattans because, "Too many things go into it and everyone wants them made a different way."

Some insist on bourbon, others on Canadian whiskey or rye. Some people want cherry juice or Cointreau added.

Berchtold has had patrons order the drink because it makes them seem debonair, yet when it arrives, they decide they don't like the taste of bitters.

When ordering a Manhattan, help the bartender by specifying the type of whiskey you want. If you want anything more than whiskey, vermouth and bitters, ask for it.


The fact he thinks too many things go into a Manhattan is crazy. I would think Bloody Mary's would be far worse in terms of ingredients. Mental note -- stay away from Cinch -- it's full name is Cinch Saloon btw -- I guess that should be a clue by itself.

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#11 Sneakeater

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 02:29 PM

Now that I've read the article, what a load of bullshit. I'm going to a bar and paying. Why I should I even think about what's hard and not hard for the bartender? (To be sure, I agree you should try to make things as easy as possible. I certainly always specify I want rye in my Manhattans.) (For all the good it usually does me.)

I'm waiting for the day when I get interviewed for an article on "Five Motions Lawyers Hate To Make." But I'm not holding my breath.

#12 JAZ

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 02:33 PM

Bartender Noah Esperas of le Duplex in San Francisco says, "Go to a restaurant if you want a real Mojito."

He warns, "Honestly, if I am slammed at 1 a.m. and someone asks for four Mojitos, I won't make them. If it costs $9 for a Mojito and $8 for a Grey Goose (vodka), the bar isn't losing much and I can make up for it in tips with the other people by saving time."

I really don't have a lot of respect for this kind of attitude. I've seen the bartenders at Flatiron Lounge bang out one labor intensive specialty cocktail after another while completely slammed on a weekend night.

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I have no respect at all for this kind of attitude. (Anyone else wonder if this guy's boss read this quote, and what happened if he or she did?) Perhaps it hasn't occurred to him that if he refuses to make requested drinks often enough, pretty soon he won't have any customers to pour Grey Goose for, and he won't be making any tips at all.

The whole tone of the article bothers me. Really, complaining about having to use sugar and fresh lime juice because they make your hands sticky? Please. Get another job.

#13 jm chen

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 02:45 PM

This will not stop me from ordering Manhattans, even if the yahoos do have to go back and look it up. Gimme whiskey!
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#14 Daniel

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 02:52 PM

I would like to add a drink to the list..

Last night while out to dinner at a Cuban restaurant, I order this drink off the specials menu.. It was priced at 7.50 so, I it was a deal.. 20 minutes goes by and I have still not received my drink.. Finally, a huge pineapple arrives at the table.. Completely cored with the top placed back on.. They had emptied the contents, blended, and poured the drink back in.. I think I might have been the first person to have order this thing since the place opened.. It was really good but, they were made to order...I had to get something else..

I wonder how the people who dont like lemon drops would react to these babies..


I offer you the pineapple surprise:

Posted Image

and his cousin coco:

Posted Image

Edited by Daniel, 06 April 2006 - 03:00 PM.


#15 Sneakeater

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 03:21 PM

It's certainly a surprise.

#16 mbanu

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 03:42 PM

I have no respect at all for this kind of attitude. (Anyone else wonder if this guy's boss read this quote, and what happened if he or she did?) Perhaps it hasn't occurred to him that if he refuses to make requested drinks often enough, pretty soon he won't have any customers to pour Grey Goose for, and he won't be making any tips at all.

The whole tone of the article bothers me. Really, complaining about having to use sugar and fresh lime juice because they make your hands sticky? Please. Get another job.

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The thing to remember about the average bartender is that he is driven by tips. So the sort of customer he wants is the sort who orders easy drinks that are fast to make and painfully expensive, who doesn't complain and orders a lot of them, ie, the person who orders Grey Goose shots and highballs with premium liquor. Classic cocktails and the people who order them won't give the average bartender a better return on his money unless they tip unusually well, so he tends to dislike them if they seem to keep him from serving the premium shot crowd.

Edited by mbanu, 06 April 2006 - 03:44 PM.


#17 Sneakeater

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 03:44 PM

Fine. The average bartender can think whatever he or she wants. I want a fucking Manhattan, and I'm paying, and he or she is just going to fucking have to fucking make it.

#18 Rob Simmon

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 06:29 PM

I think I might have been the first person to have order this thing since the place opened.. It was really good but, they were made to order...I had to get something else..


If this cuban restaurant is near the American Museum of Natural History, I've ordered one of the drinks in the pineapple. They're killer!

#19 Snowy is dead

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 10:29 PM

I've fortunately never had any bartender refuse to make a drink. If they say they don't know how to make it, and seem pretty sincere, I take them at their word and get something else. But the I'm too busy/weeded/lazy/unprepared to make your "pain in the ass drink" is not good. Weird that any establishment would want an attitude like that in an article or report. Yikes.

#20 JAZ

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 11:11 PM

The thing to remember about the average bartender is that he is driven by tips. So the sort of customer he wants is the sort who orders easy drinks that are fast to make and painfully expensive, who doesn't complain and orders a lot of them, ie, the person who orders Grey Goose shots and highballs with premium liquor. Classic cocktails and the people who order them won't give the average bartender a better return on his money unless they tip unusually well, so he tends to dislike them if they seem to keep him from serving the premium shot crowd.

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I do understand that; I've seen it often enough. But even though I'm not a bartender, I am in a customer service job, and that attitude is just so short-sighted it makes me crazy. I work in a cookware store, and I want customers who just walk in the door and buy sets of copper cookware or expensive knife sets or a $1000 John Boos kitchen island with no work on my part. It sucks to spend a whole bunch of time with someone who after all that ends up buying a $14 cast iron skillet, and then wants it gift wrapped. But, hey! That's my job, and here's the deal -- customer service jobs suck some of the time. You don't like that? Don't work in customer service.

Of course bartenders want easy tips -- that's a given. But, I'm sorry -- they work in a bar, as a bartender. Their job is to make drinks, not just pour shots of expensive vodka. And depending on where they work, if they refuse to make the "difficult" orders or ignore the "difficult" customers, I think it's going to catch up with them. At least I hope it's going to catch up with them.

#21 cocktailgeek

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 02:24 AM

I've been thinking about this quite a bit, and though I'm not going to retract my earlier post, I'm going to qualify it a bit. I can understand the analogy of having customers who spend a lot with no work versus those who spend a little who are "high-maintenance", but in a busy bar, when someone orders a "high-maintenance drink", expensive or no, the bar is often full of easy, big-ticket customers.

There are some bartenders who enjoy the craft so much that they welcome the break from making $12 Goose & Red Bulls and enjoy making a quality cocktail. Most don't. If I am in a crowded bar and the bartender is slammed, I'm not going to inquire as to the use of egg white in a sour.

When it becomes an issue for me is when a bartender makes a scene about making a cocktail on that establishment's drink menu. If you offer Mojito's as the specialty of the house, then cowboy up and muddle.

I like Manhattan's, but don't drink them very much, because if the bar's too busy for a conversation about bitters I'd rather have a beer than take my chances. All of this reflects poorly, I suspect, on the quality of bartenders in this day and age. All I can say is frequent the bartenders you find who give a shit. After all, we didn't choose the easy road.
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#22 dsoneil

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 05:30 AM

As a bartender, I'll make whatever you want and I'll never complain. But, I do work with some bartenders who have other reasons for being at work and providing good customer service isn't one of them. Most of them just want to pour beer and bang out rum and cokes, but they expect a good tip for these simple tasks. Basically, most bartenders equate # of drinks served with the amount they are going to make. i.e. more drinks, more tips. Anything that eats up their time is regarded as cutting into their income.

I'm a different kind of bartender though, I would rather spend the time talking to you, introduce you to new and classic drinks and make sure you have a great night. On that basis my tips can usually be greater than someone who served five drinks per minute but doesn't provide any customer service.

The Manhattan doesn't take anymore time to make than any other drink. Pouring a single pint can take 20 seconds or more so. A decent Manhattan can be made in about 30 seconds.
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#23 slkinsey

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 06:56 AM

. . .I do work with some bartenders who have other reasons for being at work and providing good customer service isn't one of them. Most of them just want to pour beer and bang out rum and cokes, but they expect a good tip for these simple tasks.

This is kind of sad, I think. Where is the joy in that? Where is the pride? Where is the intellectual stimulation?
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#24 Snowy is dead

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 09:16 AM

I suppose someone who bartends because they heard it was a good way to make money while they get their MBA might not concern themselves with quality cocktails. Especially if their idea of a 'fancy' drink is a grand gold margarita. I'm sure many of these bartenders who are the subject of this thread are probably short timers, just doing whatever job until they finish their degree and get a 'real job'. Now that I think about it, the bartenders who do this as a career, at least the ones I know, do give a shit. Its the 'temp' bartenders who seem most guilty, and maybe those who work in clubs. Clubs, at least around Boston, don't give a rats ass about customer service. At some you can pay $6 for a bottle of beer and they pour 8oz. into a plastic cup and keep the rest for the next customer.

On a side note, the temporary aspect of the restaurant industry is pretty well taken for granted around here. Maybe in Boston at places like No. 9 Park or Grill 23 people assume that you might be a career bartender. I can't count how many times customers say to me "so, you're a bartender. What do you really do?" Do they expect perfect manhattans when they assume you really do something else?

edited to clarify: perfect as in well made, not "perfect" as in, well, you know.

Edited by Snowy is dead, 07 April 2006 - 09:17 AM.


#25 Busboy

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 09:53 AM

I wouldn't read too much into the article or speak harshly of the bartenders quoted therein. I'll bet they're pretty good guys, pros who take care of their people.

Why? because the writer is going to look for thet type of bartender when writing the story. And, while I don't know the places mentioned, they sound like serious watering holes. Contrary to what a lot of people think, landing good shifts at a a busy, upscale bar usually takes a couple of years -- at least -- working your way up the ladder.

But everybody gripes about their job. That a bartender working for tips would -- when the troops are four deep and boozily clamouring for yet more booze -- prefer to serve as many of them as quickly as possible, and not get sugar syrup all over themselves, is hardly surprising. That they would be annoyed that no one can agree on what makes a Manhatten is to be expected. To get knickers twisted over a little honest bitching -- that seems unusual to me.

Amazed that none of them mentioned blender drinks.
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#26 Oyster Guy

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 10:12 AM

I'm amazed that no-one mentioned blender drinks either.
Every bartender I've worked with has positively hated them.
I actually have never met a bartender who does like to make them.
One even went so far as to order the barbeque ribs at work and when he finished eating them, he deposited the bones in the blender and turned it on and burnt out the motor so he wouldn't have to make any that night.
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It is a pain in the ass. The last time someone asked me to make them one on a really busy night, I gave them a shot glass full of sand and a condom and said, "There's your sex on the beach!"
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#27 Megan Blocker

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 10:40 AM

This will not stop me from ordering Manhattans, even if the yahoos do have to go back and look it up. Gimme whiskey!

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Any bartender who has to look up a Manhattan is a hack.

Just saying. :wink:
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#28 Megan Blocker

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 10:42 AM

Fine.  The average bartender can think whatever he or she wants.  I want a fucking Manhattan, and I'm paying, and he or she is just going to fucking have to fucking make it.

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Sneakeater, I feel that you're not really expressing yourself here...how do you feel about it? :wink: :raz: :laugh:
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#29 NYC Mike

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 10:57 AM

I had a VP once that only drinks Manhattans and he is VERY particular about how he wants his, Makers or better only, tall glass, extra dry etc. BUT, he understood the nuances to his particular manhattan and would spend extra time with the bartender mapping it all out for him the first time, practically coming around and making it himself. He would tip heavy if the bartender got it right.

I can't imagine the scene if he were told sorry we don't make Manhattans. :wacko:
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#30 Alchemist

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 12:41 PM

The drink, well shot really, that I hate to make the most is chilled Sambuca. The amount of time, and energy it takes to get the anise smell/taste out of your shaker is not worth the $2 tip you are going to recieve on the four to eight shots.

Cement mixers, hate them. And the people who think it's funny to put one of thier "friends" through that experiance.

Actually most shots with sweet craemy liquors. One because unsophistocated drinkers don't tip as well, as your average Sazarac drinker. They also are hard to get off your shakers. Not the drinkers, but the sweet creamy liquors.

I love to make manhattans. especially when the person knows how to order them. To drag the order out of the a little at a time, ca be frustrating. One shoould not say "I'll have a manhattan" (or martini for that matter) It should go a little like this.

"Please, may I have a (Brand name) rye manhattan, up, perfect, with 3 dashes of Angostura bitters, thank you"

If you have a term that can be misunderstood, (like dry, does it mean less sweet vermouth, or only dry vermouth) specify.

The other thing a would take issue with, in the artical, is the Mojito. In my opnion you shouldn't muddle the mint for a couple of minutes. A light brusing is better, it doesn't bring out the grassy flavor, just the minty.



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