Friday, March 18, 2011

A 'Rant' From The Whistler's Bartender . . .

Paul McGee photo via This Is A Cocktail Blog

Bartending vet Paul McGee, who can be found at The Whistler, gives some sound advice to his colleagues in a rant on his This Is A Cocktail Blog:

"Ignoring people that order a product or cocktail that isn't carried at a particular establishment is another trend that seems to be popping up, and, strangely, seems to be a policy that the staff members at these bars proudly brag about.

"I've heard stories of bartenders simply turning their backs on customers attempting to order a drink with cranberry juice or requesting that their martini be made dirty. I'm not suggesting that bars carry every product available or make every drink that is ordered, however, I do believe it is a bartender's responsibility to be friendly and offer an alternative.

"Practicing poor customer service is not only a disservice to your bar, it is harmful to all of the other bartenders that share your profession."

Wise words to live by!


Anonymous said...

Paul is one of my favorite people, but I still think there's a time and place for a gentle brush off.

When, for example, someone has wandered into a small craft cocktail spot because they've heard it's the next big thing and are taking up bar real estate ordering 7&7 or Vodka/Soda (as the patrons next to me at The Violet Hour a few days ago were doing, refusing the earnest attempts of the bartenders to craft them something, anything even with the promise they could return any drink they didn't like and generally making themselves very conspicuous), it's not really conducive to providing the best service to the greatest number.

Not every person belongs in every bar, and while I wouldn't want to have a bartender turn their back on me for ordering the wrong thing, I don't think there's anything wrong with perhaps giving a bit of a cold shoulder to someone who obstinately thumbs their nose at your craft.

My favorite story of something like this was when I was seated at a classic cocktail bar and someone walked up and ordered a Hennessy and Coke. Without delay the bartender tipped a jigger of Hennessy into an glass with ice and then filled a sidecar with Coke. He passed them over to the gentleman, noting that he wasn't sure what proportions he preferred. I don't know if the guy ever really considered it, but it was pretty funny to me. I think that at the heart of it was an honest attempt to get him to think about what he wanted from his drink...

312 Dining Diva said...

What an AWESOME story that was about the Henny & Coke! I'm STILL laughing. Thanks for sharing! ;)

Anonymous said...

Turning your back to a customer is not a "gentle brush off". It's simply unacceptable, shall we say "rude"?. It's called service industry for a reason.... Mr. McGee is dead on.

Anonymous said...

Anon #2, I never said turning your back on a customer was accepatble. In fact, I disagreed with that practice while still defending the idea that every bar isn't for every one. There are ways to make that clear to a customer who "doesn't get it" that don't involve blatant rudeness, which I tried to elucidate in my story.

-Anon #1

Anonymous said...

As a bar manager/bartender and lifer in this industry, I think that suggestions are always the way to go. If someone orders something that we don't have (or to be perfectly honest, that we DO have) I will say, sorry, we don't have that but have you tried this?? For example, if someone orders Tito's and says it is bc they are gluten free, I say we don't have it, but we have belvedere or chopin. On the other hand, if someone orders belvadere and says they are gluten free, I say "have you tried Prairie?" (btw Prairie is sooo much cheaper and better than all of them). I think that in the long run, people notice that you care about them and will end up orering more (and tip more) if you give them that extra step.