B IS FOR BARTENDER
By Matthew Latkiewicz
B is for Bartender. Our stewards of the sauce. Any person who desires to become a capital “D” drinker must develop a good rapport with the folks behind the bar.
But it’s important to recognize that not all bartenders are the same. The quicker you realize what type of bartender is taking your drink order, the better your experience (and your drink) will be.
Here are a few of the major bartender types that you’re likely to encounter in the great drinking wilderness
and how to order from each of them:
The Waxed Mustache
These bartenders resemble photos and etchings of bartenders from the 19th century. Common accessories include an apron, arm garters, and possibly in extreme cases, a bowler hat. While originally found behind the unmarked doors and basements of the late 1990’s neo-speakeasies, the Waxed Mustache now appears wherever craft cocktails are on the menu. When ordering, let them lead. Ask their advice and don’t presume to be the expert. This will just spook them. This bartender can be a great guide into the more obscure spirits and techniques. So, have a sense of adventure and do not rush the experience.
Their motto: “I think you’ll like this.”
Recognizable by their sleeveless classic rock t-shirt, long hair, whiskey beard and a really serious tattoo situation. Clearly, this bartender does not give a fuck. Native to the roadside honky-tonk and motorcycle bar, this breed can also be found in dive bars the world over. When you encounter a Rocker behind the bar, don’t try and impress them. Don’t comment on their band shirt or say you like their Danzig tattoo or whatever. Their air of rock-coolness forbids any joviality. So, just wait until they point at you, and then order your drink quickly, and pay for it in cash if you can. That’s as far as this relationship is gonna go.
Their motto: a subtle nod in your direction.
No one can lean on a bar with a towel over their shoulder quite like the Matthau. Older, usually with a punch. Though, in the case of a female Matthau, also called The Rhea Perlman, the punch is replaced with wild teased-out hair. Signature look is a glower. Signature move is slowly wiping out the inside of a glass. Their natural habitat is the small town bar – though, city dwellers can often find them in older, often ethnic neighborhoods. The Matthau thrives in a slower-paced environment and has the gravity to actually slow the whole bar down to accommodate their plotting style. When ordering from a Matthau, the rule of thumb is to imagine The Matthau drinking what you’re about to order. If you can’t imagine it, don’t order it.
Their motto: “What’ll it be?”
Those of prominent cleavage, short shorts and exposed navels. Whether male or female, The Siren has evolved for one thing, and one thing only: a sex appeal meant to increase the amount you drink and tip. This breed thrives in the college-town bar, though you’ll see them everywhere because of their profitability. Try your best not to look a Siren in the eye or the chest. Once this bartender has you in their sights, you might as well hand over all your money and prepare to wake up tomorrow hungover and definitely not in bed with them. While I wouldn’t order a cocktail from a Siren, they are one of the few breeds who can smoothly handle an order of “Yeah, can I get uh… three Stellas, four shots Patron, two pineapple backs and your phone number babe.” And for that, they must be saluted.
Motto: “You can totally take this shot.”
Of course, whoever your bartender, tip them well and visit them often.
B is for Bartender.