I knew that was gonna happen!

If you’ve ever been a bartender for any length of time (and bless you if you have) you’ll agree there’s a grain of truth to the statement… “Bartenders have a sixth sense sometimes about how a customer will act.” Now your friendly bartender is not suggesting an advanced form of intelligence here where our headgear should be the turban and our position while taking our break the pretzeled Lotus… else at least nine “gifted” bartenders in YFB’s acquaintance would not be into their bookmakers for three weeks tip cup… but there really is a sense one gets if from nothing but how a customer orders a drink. It’s a vibe that buzzes the wiring, a programmed reaction that kicks into gear thanks to years of taking part in the stimulus-response practicum. The Bar-land version.

So for those who’ve not tended bar before (and bless you even more) YFB has provided below some non-scientific examples of the practicum in action. The customer’s words will be the Stimulus, your friendly bartender’s thoughts the Response and the Predicted Ending the almost fool-proof outcome.

Stimulus #1: Wine Snob… “Do you have any decent reds?” (operative word, “decent”) Response: Napa fucking Valley hasn’t seen a wine tasting scene like the one coming up! Predicted Ending: (even though our list is quite impressive) “I’ll have a Tanqueray tonic, three limes.”

Stimulus #2: Econo-Line… “Hey, man, like how much are your beers?” Response: Unless I can get my hands on a ten pound bag of Miracle-Gro, the green in my freakin’ tip cup ain’t gonna grow! Predicted Ending: “Thanks, Dude, I was just curious. I’ll be back.”

Stimulus #3: Thomas Foolery… (over-enunciating beyond all reason) “I-will-have-A-nice-De-war’s-and-soda-my-good-man.” Response: This prick’s almost past the point, knows he’s almost past the point and hopes these elocution gymnastics will fool me into confusing drunk with spunk. But he’s a gentleman so let’s give him a shot. Predicted Ending: After three sips of his Dewar’s he’s either swallowed a pair of argyles or, victory now his, he just doesn’t give a shit how he sounds.

Stimulus #4: Party Hardy of Five… “Hey, man, let’s start this off with five chilled double shots of Patron.” Response: Bartender to waiter… Bartender to waiter… send back-up! Predicted Ending: After three more rounds, two hundred fist bumps, three hundred chest bumps and maybe a fucking forehead bump for titles, five grown professionals are eating their cell phones.

Stimulus #5: Donnie Diversion... (almost feigning a yawn) “Um… ya’ know what, my friend? I’ll just have a Wild Turkey rocks.” (operative word “just”) Response: Wild fucking Turkey isn’t close to being a “just”, Mr. Subterfuge, so don’t try to play it down. Chardonnay is a “just”, Bailey’s Irish Cream is a “just”, this shit’ll make you throw stones at fucking holy pictures. Predicted Ending: Midway through his second drink he’s doing “just” what I thought… talking to himself in the mirror and grinning like The Joker.

Stimulus #6: Good Time Charley… (referencing a bartender who hasn’t worked in the place for over ten years) “Hey-eyyy, where the hell’s that Gino, he still work here? (No!) Aw, shit! Dammit!!! Meanwhile, Christ did we have fun, that bastard’s crazy! Woooooo-eeee!!! Listen, I  got a meeting in a couple of minutes so gimme a quick double Stoli on the rocks but no fruit… don’t want to spoil a good thing.” Response: You already have because I can see where this is going. The shiny suit and frayed collar tell me you haven’t had a meeting since somewhere in the late 90’s and you’re gonna use this Gino thing to some kind of heinous end. Predicted Ending: “Listen, let me run up the street and get this meeting out of the way, so hold my tab. Oh, and do me a solid first, my man. Cash this two party check? Okay? Gino used to do it for me no sweat. Christ that guy was a nut!”

Stimulus #7: The Talker… (before the concept of ordering is even considered) “Damn, talk about trying to get a cab in the rain – forget about it – my wife thinks I’m nuts for even leavin’ the house – but hey, that’s what wives are for, breakin’ balls, right? – and speaking of waiting – not a time to be a Met fan, right? – every year it’s the same old shit, wait til next year – wait!- (Order, man, order!!!) – but hey, things could be worse, right? – we could be havin’ this conversation in Afghanistan – (You’re having this conversation, not we!) – wow, this place is nice, I dig old places like this – what’s your name by the way? – my name’s Drew.” Response: ARRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHH!!! Predicted Ending: This shit will only get worse so after his first sip of Irish coffee and after I find out what he got in fourth grade spelling, I’ll go out in the rain myself and hail him a cab.

Stimulus #8: California Reamin’… (said in a beamingly cute way before every sentence) “We’re from Los Angeles and…” Response: Why do you people from L.A. feel the need to tell us you’re from L.A.? Over and over. First of all, the Hawaiian shirt and December tan already announce that Bio point and secondly, now that I have that information, do you think it’s gonna change how I treat you or how I make your drink? Why start off like that? How come I never hear, “We’re from Schenectady and…” Predicted Ending: So much attention will be required and so much nonsense discussed (think Real Housewives of Orange County, cubed) that all the “good” people of L.A. (and of course there are many), after I’ve explained why we don’t carry White Zinfandel, will be lumped into my dislike for the whole fucking culture!

Stimulus #9: The Starer… From the moment he enters the building he doesn’t take his eyes off you. It’s just starin’, starin’, “Give me your house cognac,” and back to starin’. Response: Aw no, man, not one of these. What the fuck is this about? Too menacing to be a gay thing. Is he a terrorist? Could (so-and-so) have had a husband or a boyfriend? Is he a hit man? Shit, at least blink, man! Predicted Ending: These guys are usually “one and done” but their work is far from done. That’s because Sadistic Hawkeye looks over his shoulder one last time as he’s walking out the door leaving your friendly bartender to still feel the heat. So much so,  he tries to recall the words to the Act of Contrition.

Stimulus #10: The Jerk… (to the bartender) “Now here’s a guy who looks like he knows what he’s doin’!” Response: Now here’s a guy that doesn’t. Predicted Outcome: He didn’t.

PS: The only time the Predicted Outcome didn’t turn out the way YFB had expected, was when a shiny suit guy’s two party check turned out to be a three party!

See ya’ next week-end.

34 Responses to “I knew that was gonna happen!”

  1. 1 isisthescientist February 7, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    HA HA HA. Dr. Isis is from L.A. And here’s a little something that might help in the future:

    O my God,
    I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee,
    and I detest all my sins,
    because I dread the loss of heaven,
    and the pains of hell;
    but most of all because they offend Thee, my God,
    Who are all good and deserving of all my love.
    I firmly resolve,
    with the help of Thy grace,
    to confess my sins,
    to do penance,
    and to amend my life.

    You know. Since you were trying to recall the words.


  2. 2 scribbler50 February 7, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    Thanks, Isis, I had forgotten the words. You see it’s been a while… since I’ve sinned, that is.

  3. 3 isisthescientist February 7, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    I sin frequently. Sometimes multiple times a day.

  4. 4 leigh February 7, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    i work with #7. damnit all to hell.

    my response changed from the internal arrrrrgggghhhhhhh!!!!1!1!!!! to literally running away. so did everyone else’s…

  5. 5 Anonymoustache February 8, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Great post, as usual, Scrib50!
    And—-Wild fucking Turkey isn’t close to being a “just”—-Ain’t that the fucking truth? I once overindulged in Wild Turkey. Once.

  6. 6 Comrade PhysioProf February 8, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    House cognac!?!?!?!? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!

  7. 7 Carrie February 8, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    Absolutely brilliant. What is it about grown men getting together and pounding their chests with their fists?

  8. 8 Juniper Shoemaker February 8, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    “We’re from Los Angeles and…”

    I promise you. I’ve lived here for years now, and I will take care not to introduce myself this way when next I visit the East Coast, in the event that I’ve inadvertently picked up more Beach Cities mannerisms than I care to admit.

  9. 9 scribbler50 February 8, 2009 at 7:18 pm


    Well I’m from Pittsburgh and I thank you, as always, for your comment. And by the way, even if you did introduce yourself that way, I’m sure the words to follow would be lights years away from the prattle I referred to in this blog.

  10. 10 chezjake February 8, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    I’ve seen most of those characters at one time or another. Hopefully, you’ve got some good brews beneath those sticks, and I can instantly tell if you’ve got something to please my palate without asking. The only place you’re likely to hear me ask, “Have you got any decent ale?” (emphasis on the decent) is if all the sticks have heads with Anheuser-Buusch, Miller, and/or Coors brands on the top.

    BTW, I’m from Pittsburgh too, but my parents hauled me off to North Jersey when I was only four. It took me almost 25 years to escape from there.

  11. 11 Citronella February 8, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    So, why is it you don’t serve white Zinfandel then?


    As a disclaimer, I’m not from Los Angeles. And cannot find a good reason why a French girl like me would care to ask about Zinfandel, white or not.

  12. 12 drugmonkey February 9, 2009 at 3:00 am

    #9: perhaps our friendly bartender is just. that. hott.

  13. 13 scribbler50 February 9, 2009 at 8:43 am


    “perhaps…” you say? “PERHAPS”???

    Good heavens, man! I was under the foolish impression my stunning good looks were already a given. Why just last Tuesday I placed 72nd out of a field of 75 in a “Hottest Bartenders in New York” contest. And would’ve easily jumped to 70 or 71 had I simply tousled my hair and forgotten to shave.

    (“perhaps” indeed!)

  14. 14 d-a-p February 9, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    your list of the who’s who of the bar types is right on…
    i’ve been several of them…sometimes in the same evening..so from personal experience i can vouch for the accuracy and the frustration you must feel…very funny sitting of this side of the bar though..
    by the way…”could i have a chevas on the rocks,water back…and…another for that young lady at the end of the bar….
    what??? oh no no…i don’t want to meet her..she’s my ex…thanks buddy…..

  15. 15 scicurious February 9, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    (Scicurious sneaks slyly out of lurking…)

    I love your blog, Scribbler! Unfortunately, you’ve now made me TERRIFIED to walk into a bar for fear of being one of those people. I do have a bit of a question, though. When I am at bars, I often try to get up to the bar to get a drink, but I have a REALLY hard time getting the bartender to notice me. Often it’s crowded, but sometimes it isn’t. Is there something I can do? I don’t want to be rude and shout “HEY YOU”, but I’m getting a little tired of having lots of other ladies and gents trample past me and get their drinks served when I’m dying of thirst. Do you have any words of wisdom? I would greatly appreciate it!

    With love,

  16. 16 isisthescientist February 9, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    #9: perhaps our friendly bartender is just. that. hott.

    I have no doubt that sweet Scribbler is that hot. Also, I think he should have been at #1.

  17. 17 scribbler50 February 9, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    A couple of things come to mind… first of all, the obvious. If it’s that kind of a bar where you’re dealing with a mob scene and people are (as you say) trampling and pushing past you, you have to be just as aggressive and trample and push too or you WILL die of thirst because in a joint like that it’s survival of the fittest. But when you do get to the bar and you feel you’re not getting noticed there’s absolutely nothing wrong with calling out to the bartender for his or her attention. I wouldn’t yell “Hey you!” as you mentioned, but a simple “Excuse me, Sir”, or “When you get a chance, Miss”, gets it done. At least it should!
    Which brings me to the real question here… what the hell’s wrong with that bartender if you’re standing there for a period of time with no glass in front of you and the jerk is not coming over to ask what you want? I don’t care how “hot” the place is, if I felt like I was purposely being ignored by some self-important asshole in a bow tie, I’d give him about one good minute to acknowledge my presence then I’d take my money and thirst where I’m respected. Period!

    Hope I’ve helped a little, Scicurious, and thanks for visiting my site.


    PS: I’m sure you’re nothing like the people in this blog so I wouldn’t be “TERRIFIED to walk into a bar”. I was writing about the exception to the rule… those eccentric “characters” bartenders sometimes have to deal with.

  18. 18 scicurious February 10, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    Thanks, Scribbler! Someday I hope to walk into YOUR bar! I have no doubt it’d be an awesome experience, as long as I’m not a jerk. 🙂

  19. 19 Donna B. February 12, 2009 at 1:03 am

    I’m with Sci, I want to walk into YOUR bar too. House scotch on the rocks for me.

    There are so few neighborhood bars now. I think it’s a sad sign.

  20. 20 scribbler50 February 12, 2009 at 1:18 am

    Scicurious & Donna:
    Maybe one day I’ll make public my Bar-land hideout and we can all have a nice big blog bash.

  21. 21 Candid Engineer February 12, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    Haha, great post. I’m up to my eyeballs in bathroom renovations this evening, and although I’d like an Irish car bomb, maybe your post is the next best thing. Speaking of which:

    Stimulus- “I’d like a round of Irish car bombs, please.”
    Possible Response (?)- Lightweight, this is going to be messy.
    Predicted ending- Candid Carbomb gets loaded, sings karaoke, makes friends with all of the other drunk people in the bar, and finds a couple of girls to feel up. The next day she vows never to drink car bombs again, but she is like a moth, and the bombs are like a flame.

  22. 22 scribbler50 February 12, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    Candid Engineer:

    Great addition to the list and thank you for adding it. Sounds like you know whereof you speak. Meanwhile, good luck with the renovations.

  23. 23 DuWayne February 13, 2009 at 12:21 am

    I was writing about the exception to the rule… those eccentric “characters” bartenders sometimes have to deal with.

    Hey Now! I’m more than a little eccentric and most bartenders love me (or did when I drank more than half a dozen times a year).

    Stimulus- “I’d like a round of Knob Creek. In fact, can we just get the bottle?”
    Probable response – Shit!
    Predicted ending – said party is naked within the hour, someone is dancing in the table, the police are called.

  24. 24 scribbler50 February 13, 2009 at 1:19 am

    And my list continues to grow. Thanks, Du Wayne, Knob Creek is some mighty righteous shit.

  25. 25 DuWayne February 13, 2009 at 11:32 am

    It is, but it’s not actually my favorite small batch bourbon. Thus far, my fave is still Basil Haydon, though Booker’s runs a close second.

    I mention Knob Creek, because the last time I took a fifth to a party (several years ago), within an hour of opening it, everyone was naked.

  26. 26 scribbler50 February 13, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    Du Wayne:

    With regards to your mentioned experience with Knob Creek, me thinks it was less about that brand than the crowd in attendance. Party on, Du Wayne!

  27. 27 White Trash Academic February 13, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    Sorry scrib but I’m a starer…I rationalize my staring because I am a social scientist after all and do study human behavior.

    If there is no one else in the bar that seems interesting enough to stare at, it’s going to be you.

  28. 28 scribbler50 February 13, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Thanks for the warning but somehow I don’t think your starin’ will be all that bad. A female starier I can handle.

  29. 29 Anonymoustache February 13, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    —“A female starer I can handle”—

    Now, now, Scrib50. Ever see a movie called Misery?

  30. 30 scribbler50 February 13, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Whoa, good point, Stache! I DID see Misery, as well as “Play Misty for Me”… that other homme fatale!

    All right, WTA, no starin’, young lady !!!

  31. 31 Abel Pharmboy February 14, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    My apologies that it has been such a long week that I am only now reading last week’s essay – and a lovely one at that.

    Your writing is uniformly enjoyable, entertaining, and insightful. But I always leave with one or more gems that keep me laughing long beyond reading – those that I say, “damn, I’ve gotta work that into my vocabulary!”

    This one is:
    “This shit’ll make you throw stones at fucking holy pictures.”

    Thank you, sir. Thank you.

  32. 32 scribbler50 February 15, 2009 at 2:18 am

    And thank you, Abel Pharmboy, thank you! Meanwhile, I hope you’re feeling better after whatever heinous bug was bugging your Pharm-ness!

  33. 33 Sven DiMilo February 17, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    A fun read; thanks, Scribbler. Hey, I’m from the ‘burgh too, now residing on Long Island. I tried to find some Irn City for the superbowl, but had to settle for Rolling Rock, and only then did I learn that they brew that piss in St. Louis now. Very disappointing.
    So, while I am addressing you, on the subject of getting served in a crowded bar, would you object to being hailed (politely) as “Barkeep” rather than “Sir”? And am I correct in my assumption that I’ll get noticed a lot quicker on my second approach if I leave a slightly excessive tip the first time?
    Mostly rhetorical, because I very seldom drink anywhere but my local watering hole anymore–it’s within staggering distance of both my apartment and my wife and kid’s house–and all the guys behind the stick there don’t even ask what I want anymore, just set up the usual on my way in.
    I do so enjoy observing the other patrons, though, and then laughing about them with my friends the barmen. Last night a young woman asked for a vodka & cranberry and a “grateful dead.” Bob behind the bar looked at me (I am a notorious deadhead), I shrugged, and he asked her “what’s in that?” She wasn’t sure, but thought it was green, so, with a sidelong grin at me, he whipped up a LIIT with “apple pucker” instead of Coke. She seemed happy about it.
    Seriously–who invents these drinks; and why? And does the term “martini” have any meaning, at all, anymore?

  34. 34 scribbler50 February 17, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    Sven DiMilo:
    First of all, from one “Burgher” to another, how about those Steelers???

    Now, even though your questions on addressing a bartender were rhetorical, let me respond anyway. It’s funny, as far as the word “barkeep” goes my initial reaction to you saying that was a negative one even though it is a most respectful term out of the past. And that’s because most guys who yell that out these days are doing it in a loud (“Hey look at me”) way. Who says “barkeep” anymore unless they’re being cute. Or they’re seventy. Most guys who say that today are the ones I described in my very first post, “My father will have”. Read it and you’ll see who I mean. But again, it’s always in how something is said and in what tone. And as far as tipping well your first time in? Believe me it gets you good service next time in. But then you knew that.

    And finally, good ad-lib on YOUR friendly bartender’s part when he turned that Long Island Ice Tea into a Grateful Dead. Fortunately I don’t get many of those requests. Hey, thanks for stopping by and thanks for leaving a comment.

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