DrinkWire is Liquor.com’s showcase for the best articles, recipes and reviews from the web’s top writers and bloggers. In this post, Max Longstone offers some bartender tales.
The bar. That venerated stronghold of majestic maddening merriment making itself known at the end of a bombastic week of financial responsibility. The R-word, that cursed unit chaining the lot of us to a nine-to-five. Our only escape, daydreams of that fine establishment where happy-hour isn’t just a welcomed timeframe but a state of mind. Where the riff-raff, reprobates and remedial blockheads can tie one off while forgoing all that miasmic claptrap leading us by the leech of everyday life into cancer.
Into the belly of our pub we go, flicking the lingering ghosts of our boss’ shadow off the very second we passed that threshold and smell the cool afterglow of boat-drinks and Coors’ nirvana. There, standing like a bastion to the heavenly gates our stalwart friend and fiend… the barkeep. A proper barkeep. The sort with a name like Mike, or Charlie, perhaps a Steve or a Ron, nothing with more than two syllables.
The man, a litmus test for humanity. Rolled up sleeves in city fashion, immune to the dregs of suburbia, painting everyone into a corner and foreclosing - with quick quips - on the karmically challenged. Pouring bleach into our brains his life’s mission. The barkeep, overexposure to a vampire's sunning habits making him the perfect pale paladin to society’s gray margins.
A man that has bared witness to that inbred cross-section of massive confusion we call our lesser demons. A man, or perhaps a dame, who has been buffeted by the wild winds of someone or something, profusely and constantly peddling their own unique brand of perversions. The bar, a cesspool of demographic chards in massive disorder and mayhem, enacting a flatline of Darwin’s evolution of men; as the night veers into the wee-hours that graft takes a nosedive and the Ichthyostega come out with a rousing rendition of the Macarena.
This guru, this hero, this legend has seen it all. Heard it all. Smelled it all. Washed and cleaned it all. He waddles through that primordial soup on a daily basis marinating us in vodka and having to interpret our particular psychosis, with its visual waves of craziness, that have forever excluded us from that renowned sample study that even a dull chimp could get into.
Let’s take a moment to honor his bodily fluid plastered profession.
Well, that’s done. Enough with the glad-handling and the ego strokes, let’s get into the juicy bits. Let’s swim through those wacky tall tales that are neither tall nor tales but quixotic and bizarre renditions of possibly Lifetime movies or Sci-Fi free-for-all. Let’s gorge out on the smorgasbord of madness that is a barkeeps life.
Unvarnished, unedited, right from the horse’s mouth and devoid of any antiseptic… Bartenders’ Bedraggles, Tales of Tapsters, Mixologists Memoirs, Steward Sagas… The name a work in progress.
A few tales, straight from the sober horse's mouth... no filters.
The Oldest Profession.
“I was bartending at this hotel one night when a relatively attractive girl came into the bar. She sat down, ordered a drink and we began chatting. After some banter back and forth she says, “…and man does my v@&($a hurt right now! Wow I took a pounding.” I kind of paused, unsure of how to respond to that. But my curiosity got the best of me so I played along and asked why. Turns out she was a call girl. She was upstairs in the hotel minutes earlier and got gangbanged by three guys at the same time. She started going on about how many “pipes” she played in a day, talking about her work as a hooker like one would any job where they had to do a lot of stuff in a day. Except her stuff to do was people.”
The Couplet Cellphone Calamity
“I’ve posted some bartending stories before so here we go. Surprisingly, I have crazier stories from the nicer bars I’ve worked at than dive bars but we can do a dive bar story. This particular dive was down in Texas, typical cheers style everyone knows each other place. But every now and then, I would get a customer I’ve never seen before. These people were generally kind of shady but always felt comfortable.
I had one guy sit down at my VERY slow and therefore quiet bar and commence to call a sex chat line. He started out by entering his credit card info into his phone then ‘Oh yeah baby what are you wearing…oh, of course, I like that.’ I had no clue what to do about that, but it never got too bad and I could see both of his hands and he didn’t try to go to the bathroom.
Another guy called up his drug dealer and started to try and him to come sell this dude meth at my bar. I threw that guy out. I know, double standards.”
“I wasn’t bartending at the time, but I picked up occasionally at this bar. It was Halloween and the bar was pretty slow. This dude comes in dressed all normal but covered in blood. Uglier and laxer costumes exist. Turns out he murdered his brother shortly before at the apartment complex around the corner. He just came in and had a few drinks and left.”
A Carpet Apology 800 years in the making
“I live in Ireland, I had a guy from England (a little tipsy) apologizing to all the Irish people in the bar for the 800 years of occupation by England in our country and for the invasion of Oliver Cromwell. Did I mention he was a native of New Dehli?”
Oops, O.K., I’m going to Hell.
"One day after work the managers told everyone that we needed to start cutting people off that looked like they were too drunk. The next night I overheard a waiter talking to his 6 top.
Waiter: How is everyone?
First Customer: Can we get another round?
Waiter: I can get one for everyone else but you can't even look at me straight. I'm sorry but I have to cut you off.
Second Customer: DUDE, She's been cross-eyed since birth!
Waiter: One round coming right up!"
"Busy Saturday night, place is ram jam squishy full (600 people). I stood in the front door taking occupancy numbers, and over the door radio comes the shout 'shaggers, shaggers, we got shaggers.’
Doormen go running off to the gents and bring out a 40-ish couple and escort them out of the front door. As we all walk back in a guy comes up to the head doorman and says ‘why are you kicking my wife out?’"
The Tasmanian Devil
“So I've been a bartender for about 10 years now. I usually work at dive bars but I've had my stints at fine dining establishments. I think the absolute worst thing I've ever had the inopportune chance of coming across happened at downtown Nashville at an unnamed bar on Broadway. I had just gone downstairs to change out a keg since the bar back was upstairs opening up standalone beer cooler for a 'Beer Goddess'. As I'm coming back up the stairs a body flies -through- the door I'm about to open into the wall to my right. (It's like a small landing at the top of the steps with the door to the left.)
The man that was just rocketed through the door was my 6'7 250lb bouncer named Jared. He stands back up and rushes back out the door. While I was gone this Hungarian monster of a man had knocked out 4 patrons, 1 bouncer, and was holding his own against 6 others. I've seen a -lot- of bar fights in my time but this man would NOT go down, eventually the cops showed up- but this man unarmed, took on tasers, threw a cop through a window, took a metal baseball bat to the ribs, and law enforcement grade mace to the face.
Eventually, he did finally go down, but not before stripping all of his clothes off, doing a body drop on the top of the police cruiser, and masturbating against a female officer.
Turns out he was on speed, PCP, and bath salts. His wounds consisted of 9 broken ribs, fractured orbital, leg broken in 4 places, and his hands were broken in multiple places.
He put the original bouncer I mentioned in the hospital, and 2 cops were hospitalized as well.”
Sobbing Sad Story.
“I was in the process of closing up the bar. It was Thursday so there was basically just me and the cooks at 11 pm. This blonde lady in her mid-thirties walks in with a strut and orders a long island. She has a couple and then out of the blue tells me her little girl was raped by her boyfriend and that he's in jail now but she still loves him. She goes on like this for a while. Now, at this point, I can tell she had had a few before arriving at the bar and is getting kinda gushy. Flirting with the line cook in his pepper pants and such. I asked if she was driving and she said she was walking. I offered to get her a cab and she said she lived close and would be fine. I figure if she's on foot she can't get into too much trouble.
WRONG. Got a call the next day from the police saying she was found in the middle of the street about 4 blocks away and had been run over. My manager was a dick about it and immediately started grilling me about how many drinks I had served her. I could have sworn it was only 2 plus the super watered down one I had given her at the end. I felt terrible until I was questioned by the police and they said they expected she laid down in the street on purpose. I decided to work breakfast after that.”
E.T Please, I beg you, Call Home…
“Three years ago, I had had enough of the big city life. I was sick and tired of the smog, the traffic jams, the crowds. So, I decided to pack up my stuff and find greener pastures. I moved out from San Diego and simply took to the road. As a bartender you can probably find a job or two to get you by, it all depends on lowering your expectations. Frankly, It was OK with me. In San Diego, I was serving up cocktails in some of the fancier joints in the city. I soon realized that most towns, although peppered with dive bars and sketchy folks had a nicer sort of patron, than those gourmet restaurants that I used to tend in.
Anyway, 6 months into my wanderlust and I ended up in this little border town in California. At the most, this place had 40 residents, but due to its proximity to other settlements, and the fact that it had one of the only bars in the area, the one-horse town was like honey. Every weekend it would swell up and the bar, particularly, turned into standing room only. During the week, we’d catch a stray or two, followed by the local Border Patrol regimen and some Minutemen yahoos. Dry, almost no rain, quiet and out of the way.
The old bartender had just passed away and the owner was looking for a hire. I came in at the right time. Said I’d stay for only a month, then I meet this Texan hotty, and we sort of hit it off. 5 months in and then one night, I was doing the rounds and chores. The place was dying down, so I took the opportunity and sneaked out for a smoke. Went out the back, right next to the trash. I lid up to my cigarette and settled against the wall, and that’s when I heard it. Something was having a ball with the trash-bags. It was simply tearing at them and taking out all the garbage. I’m not a gunman, never fired a shot, but I was warned that there were coyotes and wild dogs around. Whenever Jed, the owner, took out the trash, he usually did it with a rifle swung over his shoulders. I was curious, I had never seen a coyote in my life so I took a look.
Next thing I know, I was running back into the bar. That was no coyote. I was scared s@#tless. Jed stops me, sees me out of breath and asks me if I was OK. I describe to him the thing I had just seen. He simply shrugs and nonchalantly tells, as if its the most normal thing in the world,
‘that’s just a chupacabra. Got a couple of them raising hell all over town. No biggie, they normally don’t bite. Odd, cause they usually come out when the lights appear across the hills…’
Then he just patted me on the shoulder and went for his rifle.”
More MADNESS to come...