Saturday, April 2, 2016

The 7 Things to Look for (and Avoid) When Hiring a Private Event Bartender

The 7 Things to Look for (and Avoid) When Hiring a Private Event Bartender

DISCLAIMER: After writing this article, it’s really really informative but only medium entertaining. I’m starting to face that I might suck at writing fun + information packed blog posts. My older posts, and me in person, are a lot more fun. **pinkyswear**

OK, lets roll!

So you’re planning an epic event. A birthday party, wedding reception, holiday party or just a good old-fashioned everyone-blacks-out-rager.

And you want it to be great. You want to delight your guests. You want it to go down in the record books are one of the best parties ever. At the vest least, you don't want something to go wrong and for it to suck.

Killer parties need killer drinks. You decide to hire a bartender.

But how do you choose a good one? This person’s going to come into your house and talk to your guests. People will be upset if they have crappy drinks. A good or bad bartender can make or break your event.

Sh*t, this bartender thing just got risky.

There are other guides on this topic out there on the internet (I looked). I noticed that none of them contain a succinct list of HOW to actually choose a bartender who knows how to make good drinks, is cool and will add to the awesomeness of your party.

That’s why I came up with this guide.

Ready? Boom. Let’s go!

Number 1: You Like Their Personality

It’s important to make sure they have a personality conducive to a fun event.

Your bartender is going to be in your house and at your party. They will be talking to your friends. The bartender has the ability to have everyone walk away with a drink, or with a drink and smile on their face. This is an important skill for any non-ulta-loud-nightclub-bartender, so make sure the person you choose can do this.

There are two tried-and-true ways to do this. First, are they sufficiently professional in an email correspondence you have with them?

Second, are they cool when you talk to them? Do they seem to know how talk talk to people? Friendly? Do they instill confidence in you? Are they enthusiastic?

Number 2: They Have Experience Bartending in Real Bars (Not Just Catering or Bar Backing)

A lot of times I need to hire extra bartenders and this may be the hardest to find.

The barrier to entry to get behind a bar and pour drinks is crazy low. But the skill needed make excellent drinks and delight your guests is not.

A lot of bars and restaurants, especially larger ones with multiple locations, will have rigorous training programs for their bartenders. A lot of private event bartenders out there won’t have this.

It’s *very* hard to get your first bartending job and get a job at one of these places. So lots of people skip this important step.

What a lot of people will have is experience bartending for a catering company. From working with lots of catering companies and their bartenders, I’ve learned that their training, unfortunately, is jumping behind the bar one day and pouring stuff in cups. Potentially a light and informal training program that helps the caterer sell their bartenders.

Another scenario is where someone may have worked as a bar back in a bar or restaurant, got to make a few simple drinks a night when it got really busy, and they started doing their own private events.

In both situations, little to no training required.

The last thing to avoid with this is a bartender who has training, such as going to bartending school, but never actually worked as a bartender until they started doing private events. The experience you gain working behind the bar cranking out sometimes hundreds of *quality* drinks per day/night is invaluable when contributing to a great private party. It also solidifies your knowledge of how to make each drink well.
Not a bar check list,
I just thought it was funny

Number 3: They Have Resources to Help You Prepare The Bar at Your Event

What do you need to buy? And how much of it do you need? What can you use as the bar? What kind of trash cans do you need? And how many?

These are all things your bartender should easily be able to help you out with. They’ve hopefully done it many times before and should be confident in helping you out with this part.

Number 4: They Demonstrate They Know How To Make Drinks

Before you lock this person in for your event, you want to make sure they actually know how to make drink well. A long time ago I hired two bartenders to work with me and I skipped this step. Their drinks were not good, and it took them a long time to make these crappy drinks.

Do they post recipes? Do people say they make good drinks? Do they do tastings (but don’t be surprised if you have to pay extra for this last one)?

Number 5: Do They Have Proof Of Happy Customers?

In today’s day and age this one’s pretty straightforward for a bartender to get (if they in fact have happy customers). It’s also easy for you to find.

Do they have Yelp reviews? What about WeddingWire? Do they post testimonials?

Sometimes people ask for references, but keep in mind this asks the bartender to cash in a pretty significant favor from a past host, who is likely a busy person. I do this for parties of a certain size, but maybe other bartenders do this more often than I do.

Number 6: They Don’t Flinch When You Ask Them For Specialty Cocktails or a Custom Menu

Any bartender who is comfortable and confident in their craft would be excited to do this. On the other hand, a bartender who’s less comfortable in their ability may demonstrate much less confidence in the face of this request.

One way to tell is if they are able to start coming up with ideas on the spot. 

I would always recommend gathering a bartender’s thoughts on a specialty cocktail or custom menu whether you actually want this or not. Mostly to gauge their response and see how they react.

The ideal reaction would be closer to excitement and enthusiasm opposed to hesitance, apprehension or stammering.

Number 7: You Get What You Pay For

I’m not sure if this is really something to look for, but I wanted to make sure I mentioned it. I hired cheap bartenders a while ago and they sucked. I hate to say it so bluntly, but they’re cheap for a reason.

A good bartender would make $300 or $400 on a Friday or Saturday night at their bar. There are usually a couple bars in most of the larger cities where bartenders routinely walk out with $1000 dollars per night. This is rare though.

A bartender who is/was was expert enough to get these competitive shifts will be used to making this this kind of money in a night and will ask for something in this ballpark. A more junior bartender not and will ask for less. 

Last, here are a few questions you can ask a bartender to help find out if they are good:

How do you make an Old Fashioned? 
(I put this question at the top of the list because I have found that knowing how to make this drink is an excellent indicator if the bartender knows their stuff or not. You don't actually have to know the answer yourself, but the level of confidence and enthusiasm in which the bartender answers will tell it all.)

**How I would answer: First, I would tell you an Old Fashioned is one of my favorite drinks. I'd also let you know that I wrote a ridiculously detailed blog post on how to make one of these here. Then I’d go through the recipe, letting you know variations in how different bartenders make it, my preference in how I like my Old Fashion and a few details most every bartender misses. Then I’d probably ask how you like yours

What would you ask if someone walked up to the bar and asked for a martini?
**How I would answer: Sure! Gin or vodka? Up or on the rocks? How dirty? I wrote an article with a lot more details on this here.

What would you do if someone walked up to the bar and asked you to surprise them with something?
**How I would answer: I would profile them a little bit (50 year old men like different drinks than 20 year old girls) and if I hadn’t made them something already, I would ask them if they like sweet or fruity.

What’s a difference between an IPA and stout?

**How I would answer: A succinct answer something along the lines of, an IPA is lighter and has a hoppy flavor, kind of like grapefruit. A stout is darker and has a flavor more like chocolate or coffee.

What’s the last drink you created?
**How I would answer: I would tell the story of how I made up a jelly donut martini at a happy hour. I may also talk about the time I started lighting all of the drinks (and some of the deserts) on fire. Don't worry, the guests loved it and the fire department wasn't called. 

Cheers all!


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Why I Bartend

Why I Bartend

WARNING: I’m feeling especially poetic today by the way. I’m inserting this line after finishing this post. I barely used sh*t or f*ck. Well, until now.

OK, on with the real thing…

I was talking with a host a few weeks ago and the conversation went something like this:

Host: is bartending your full-time job?

Me: No, I do consulting during the day.

Host: Then why do you bartend?

Since then, I’ve noticed people express this same curiosity in different ways.

I realized this is something I almost never tell people

At any given party or event, there’s a thirsty partygoer who wanders up to the bar with a slight look of optimistic indecision. They utter a few magic words, “I don’t know, just give me whatever.” Music to my ears.

Then what happens?

My eyes roll to the back of my head (not literally, that would be creepy), my sixth sense kicks in and I somehow figure out what kind of drink they may like. I even start to glow a little. Sometimes all that fails and I need to ask them. Either/or.

I survey my ingredients, concoct something delicious and slide it across the bar. This, of course, is a no-fail phenomenon. So is my overwhelming modesty.

I stare as they take the first sip (it just occurred me to me as I wrote this line that staring a hole in the person from across the bar is probably pretty creepy. I've been doing this since 2009… Whatever, I'm still going to do it). Then something magical happens that I’ve only ever seen when someone tastes a drink for the first time. Their face goes from curious concentration to lit up with surprise and delight.

Being able to see this unique look that takes over a person’s face, and making someone instantly happy just by putting a few things in a cup is why I love bartending. This is what I’m thankful for. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to do what I love.

Happy holidays.


Friday, November 20, 2015

A Seasonal Kick in the A$$

A Seasonal Kick in the A$$

Are you ever there and it's time to party… But you’re tired?

Do your friends ever tell you that you need to rally… But you're dragging?

Are you ever at venue #1 of who knows how many… And you feel a yawn coming on?

You're in the right place, because the Fall signature drink that I came up with this year has just the thing for you.

Yes, I do create a signature Fall cocktail every year. You can get with it Here. And Here.

After looking at all of my delicious pumpkin Fall drinks, you may be thinking one thing. And chances are you are right.


I'm just going to write this blog post, drink and eat everything pumpkin that I can find, put on a sweater, get in my comfortable black leggings, tell you everything that I love about Fall, and then literally cant even for about 300 hours. You have literally no clue how much I look like Han Solo right now. Literally.

Now that we’ve firmly established that I love the sh*t out of pumpkins, I also need to let you know that I love coffee. From or not from Starbucks. The joke's over though but I know you would think that.  Lets move on. 

Now, both of my passions culminate into oral ecstasy to form this Fall's orgasm for your mouth. In cocktail form.

Shall we?

Recipe you've been waiting for

-Fill shaker with lots of ice
---1.5 oz espresso
---1.5 oz pumpkin pie vodka
---3/4 oz vanilla vodka (lots of flavored vodkas will actually work here, like whipped or cake)
-Shake the living sh*t out of it
-Pour into a glass with more ice in it.
-Drink and enjoy. Then wake the f*uck up. If you don’t do this last part, you messed up and need to try again (read: suck less).

That’s it! Now throw a party and hire me to serve this drink there.


PS: I had a ton of fun putting this post together.  Here's why

This too:

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Drinking Hellfire: A Simple Guide to Getting Drunk and Hallucinating

Drinking Hellfire: A Simple Guide to Getting Drunk and Hallucinating


A friend of mine asked me the other day for a good cocktail recipe that has absinthe in it. The first thought that came to my mind was, “How am I going to make this good? Absinthe is disgusting.” 

For those of you don’t know, absinthe is green colored liquor with usually a crazy high alcohol content. It sometimes contains wormwood and it said to make you hallucinate. Overall, absinthe tastes like hellfire. Here’s Wikipedia’s description of it:

“Absinthe makes you crazy and criminal, provokes epilepsy and tuberculosis, and has killed thousands of French people. It makes a ferocious beast of man, a martyr of woman, and a degenerate of the infant, it disorganizes and ruins the family and menaces the future of the country.”

NOTE: The Google image results for “hellfire” are fucking TERRIFYING.

Quick story, the first time I ever had it was in college. I took a shot not knowing what I was getting into. It was disgusting. I started jamming the first thing I could find in my mouth (that’s what she said) to chase it, which happened to be Frosted Mini Wheats. 

So how was I going to create a delicious cocktail with this disgusting liquor? Easy. I’m awesome. 

Are you ready for the best absinthe cocktail ever created, but still pretty disgusting? I thought not…

Mix 1 ounce of the following in a shaker with ice:

  • Absinthe
  • Vanilla vodka
  • Triple sec

Shake the absolute shit out of it. We need to do this not only because it’s fun, but to chill the liquor really well. The colder the liquor, the less it will burn and more mild the taste.

Fill a glass with ice cubes (I’m not kidding about making this fucker cold). Then pour just the liquid from the shaker.

Then add orange juice to taste. You can start with a splash and go up to 2 or 3 ounces. The citrus in the juice helps to cut the taste of the hellfire liquor, er, I mean absinthe.

Drink liberally and at your own risk. Oh, and if you hallucinate from drinking absinthe let me know what you see and if it was awesome.

Enjoy! (sort of)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Review of Balls. Balls Vodka That Is.

Review of Balls. Balls Vodka That Is.

As you've seen a few times in my blog, I review products. Companies read my blog, they send me some free stuff, I review it here, you read the review and become a more informed consumer, and the product gets its name out. Everybody wins. I would draw a process flow diagram but I'm not going to nerd out too hard on you all here. Either way, capitalism kicks ass.

Before I dive too much deeper into this post, I have to warn you that it is:
1) Not my most clean post
2) Somewhat racy
3) Ridiculously awesome (duh)

So this is my full disclaimer and warning and if any of that may bother you or you have sensitive ears, please click here. But if you can handle it, you're going to thoroughly enjoy this article.

Not too long ago, a vodka called Balls Vodka sent me some of their product.

I really like this vodka. Its name has sexual connotations, the brand is kind of racy n general and you can make up drinks with dope names. I love all that shit.

Taste Test

Here's how our taste test went down. I was pre-gaming with a friend and we decided to get out my balls. Balls Vodka that is. Long story short I fed it to him and he got laid that night. Do I guarantee that it enhances mojo and you will also get laid by drinking Balls Vodka? Yes. Just kidding. I have no clue, but it couldn't hurt.

In the package the company sent me, they included a little sheet with recipes for cocktails that one can make using Balls Vodka. So naturally, I had to come up with some of my own recipes and take it to the next level. Here is some of what I came up with.

Drink #1: Blue Balls

A little while ago I came up with a cocktail recipe called a Smurf. I decided to make a recipe similar to the Smurf, but this time with balls. Balls Vodka that is. It’s called Blue Balls. Here are the ingredients:
-1 ½ ounces Balls Vodka
-¾ ounces Hypnotic
-¾ ounces Peach Schnapps.

Yup, it will fuck you up. Good times.

Drink #2: Chef's Salty Chocolate Balls

The name of this drink is an ode to the late Isaac Hayes, also the voice of Chef on South Park. The drink is named after one of his songs. If you haven’t watched it, please do. Classic. Here’s the recipe:
-1 ½ ounces Balls Vodka
-1 ounce of creme de cacao
-1 ounce salted caramel coffee creamer
-Salt the rim and enjoy

Drink #3: Cock ‘n Balls

This drink is not for the faint of heart. It’s called Cock ‘n Balls. Lets just get to the recipe on this one:
-1 ounce Fighting Cock bourbon
-1 ounce Balls Vodka
-Fill the rest of the glass up with lots of ice, orange juice, and grapefruit juice
-Drink, enjoy and get really drunk

Last Balls Vodka has good promotional videos and the girl in it is pretty cute. Winning all around.