Of Bars, Booze, and Bartending - Proving "Coughlin's Law" Invalid Since Feb '05

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

I'll Have Nothing, Thanks.

A banner evening, really, one for the books. My first five customers, each a single party, sat at my bar and ordered.... well, nothing.

In my many, many years of tending bars, from shady to sophisticated, that has to be some kind of record. Five separate "customers" who order nothing. I've just never seen it before, in the wild.

"Well... ok. Would you like, maybe, a glass of water?" I asked.


"Well... ok! Hey, let me know if you change your mind," I said, with a cheery disposition the customer didn't earn or warrant.

It's that midwestern nicey-nice thing, sneaking out again. I'd prefer to just tell them to stop hogging barstools and wait in the lobby like any self-respecting, non-drinking customer would, but can't bring myself to do it... snark is bad for business, you know...

At one point, a wine rep brought me a dummy (an empty, enlarged-for-promotional-purposes bottle) of 2000 J Brut, my favorite bubbly, it's divine and exquisite, to display at the bar. Since I had no drinks to make, I spent my time deciding where to place the ginormous display bottle, setting it up all over the bar and then walking away, looking at it, shaking my head and moving it again.

One of the boring, non-drinking paperback-readers looked up long enough to add, in what I'm certain he thought was his own clever way, "What's the point of having some empty bottle sitting at your bar?"

I just smiled. "You're telling me!?" is what I thought...

As the bar crowded up a bit, my paying, drinking customers were finding themselves standing behind the barstools of those who would prefer to languish there, flipping through a paperback and sipping on a glass of nothing while waiting for their party.

Bar ettiquette advice: To a bartender, a barstool is real estate. Sit at it, and expect to pay a little rent, at least. It really takes balls to just sit there, order nothing and read your magazines while others stand, drink, pay and tip, don't you think?

Or, just be yourself, all entitled, little queen, just sit there and flip through the latest Marie Claire, as relaxed as you were this morning at Starbucks, nursing on a three-hour Latte, just order nothing at the bar in the evening while the thirsty gather uncomfortably around you... nothing, thanks! Are you sure? Yes. Nothing. Nothing at all. Thanks, ever so.


Did I ask too much
More than a lot?
You gave me nothing, now it's all I got
We're one
But we're not the same
Well, we hurt each other, then we do it again

- U2, "One"