Bartending Confidential

Tending bar is on an entirely different service-sector level from being a cashier or waiting tables. Bartenders have to contend with all the raw elements of humanity exposed by alcohol and moonlight. Here are a few stories from those who work behind the bars.

ANONYMOUS (establishment owner who wishes to remain nameless)

There was a guy sitting at one of our cocktail tables one evening. He was buying drinks for everyone around. He looked like that rock guy that shoots animals—Ted Nugent—he was wearing a button-up long-sleeve American flag shirt. Anyway, he leaves and he leaves behind a folder he had with him. I pick it up and it opens, and I freak! It's got four plane tickets to different cities around the country, and $20,000 in cash.

We manage to track him down, because the people sitting nearby knew where he was going. We go to give him back his folder and his money, and he doesn't want it back! He says his girlfriend had just died and he didn't care about the money. But we made him take it back. There was no way we could keep it.

STEVE DUPREE (former doorman at ellaGuru's and bartender at Barley & Hops)

One of my favorites at ellaGuru's was, I believe it was a Sunday and we had a blues band in there, and we had two primary groups of people in there: frat boys—genuine khaki slacks, Oxford shirt kind of frat boys—and several members of the Outlaws bike club. I did eventually have to throw several of the frat boys out. They just could not keep their hands off the wait staff. Never did have a bit of trouble out of the Outlaws.

[On the lack of tips from game day crowds at B&H, which was on the Strip]

They'd hand me $20 on a tab that was $19.50. And they'd take their 50 cents back. Eventually you learn not to worry about. Not to get mad about it. Just serve the beer and move on. Single women were the best [tippers]. Guys who came in and ordered Icehouse or Icehouse Light, not getting anything from them.

BARTENDER X (a female bartender who's worked at several upscale establishments)

So... I'm working at an exclusive, upscale club with a lot of holiday parties where unless you are a member you are not allowed in the bar area. This particular night this guy at the party who's not a member keeps coming up, totally wasted, wanting a drink. I tell him we can't serve him. He starts berating me about getting a drink, unrelentingly berating me about it and it escalates to weird sexual advances where he details specific things he would like to do with me—and how much his wife would enjoy me.

My initial "You need to leave" progresses to cussing him up one side to the other—loudly—I tell him "If I come out from behind this bar you are going to regret it so get the hell out of my bar!"

This refined, upscale bar is completely silent. Security gets involved and they escort him out but his wife comes up from the party area flying off the handle and yells at me, "What did you do to my husband!" getting up in my grill. I said, "Your husband said you would really, really like to [have extramarital relations with] me!" and she runs out of there.

One week later I'm at another bar after work and that same guy walks in. He comes up behind me, starts calling me a bitch and how embarrassed I made him and how he could have me fired. I say, "Dude, if you don't get out of my face I swear to God I'm going to punch you." Then he drops the c-word so I threw my fist up and punch him in the face. He takes a couple steps back, holding his bloody nose, yelling, "That bitch just punched me!" and leaves.

Everyone in the bar laughs their heads off and at least five people buy me a drink.

I still see him around town from time to time and he just glares at me and goes in the other direction. I found out later this guy is always packing heat, so... you know. Glad I'm not dead.

CASEY MARTIN (bartender at Oodles Uncorked, Market Square)

One night, a guy that works in another local restaurant comes in and sits on our patio and orders a beer. I sent the beer out in a Stella Artois glass, and he sent it back complaining that there wasn't enough volume in the glass, that it wasn't up to code. I explained to him that as long as there's no head on the beer, it has the same volume.

Then he claimed I put ice in his beer—which I didn't. He was sending drinks back repeatedly, and he makes a huge scene, so we ask him to leave.

The next Sundown in the City comes around, it's late, after the show, and he's over at Latitude 35 next door, and he gets kicked out of there. So then he struts into our bar, with a Budweiser in his hand, sits down next to our general manager, and starts telling me about how he looked up the Stella Artois glass online. He starts saying "It's 37 ml," over and over again. So I grab the beer out of his hand, and say, you're finished with your beer. Leave. And I went to get one of our male employees, Cody, to show him out. We get him out the door, but another one of our employees has called 911, and tells them what happened. He disappears for a while, then later on, a few of us are on the patio and we see him over at a light pole, throwing roundhouse karate kicks at the pole. Right then, a cop sneaks up behind him and tazes him and takes him straight down. We found out later there was a warrant out for his arrest the whole time, I think for assault. m