Monday, August 20, 2007
Townie Guide to ... Bartending
Leslie Kay, 26, Jackpot Saloon-tender and silk screener
Years in Lawrence: 8
Is bartending the quintessential vocation for townies?
"Yeah, maybe so. We do cater to a lot of townies."
How did you become a bartender?
"I wanted to work at the Jackpot as a doorman, but they wouldn't let me because I was a girl. They wanted me to be a cocktail waitress, but I told them I would be a terrible cocktail waitress. I don't have the greatest short term memory, I don't have the greatest equilibrium, and I'm not good at flirting with douchebags. So I did flyer work for them for many, many months. Finally, they asked me if I wanted to bartend, and I said, 'Sure.'"
Any advice for aspiring hooch slingers?
"I don't know, any of the fears that I had got taken care of pretty quick. I was kind of quiet and I wasn't sure if I was going to be assertive enough, or fast enough or if I was going to know how to make drinks. You're kind of forced to become assertive when you bartend at a bar like this. I'm not afraid to ask somebody what's in a drink they're ordering, and if they don't know I'm not going to make it."
What's the weirdest thing you've had to deal with as a bartender?
"All the things I used to think are weird became so normal, nothing really seems that weird anymore. I had a guy steal booze from behind the bar while I was in the bathroom, then take it over to Replay and try to drink it out of the bottle. Inevitably, the bartender over there calls and asks if I'm missing a bottle of Bushmills. I started to say "No," but then I turned around and sure enough I'm missing a bottle of Bushmills. The guy told the bartender he'd brought it from home, but our pour tap was still on it."
How do you deal with surly drunks trying to hit on you?
"I love dealing with them. That's one of the perks. There's nothing more fun than being able to cut someone off who needs it, especially if they're a sleazy, yucky guy. They're surly until they realize you control the alcohol."
So you enjoy the power you wield over people as a bartender?
"Yeah-if they're jerks, then I definitely enjoy it."
Who's more annoying to serve: frat guys or hipsters?
"I don't really care so long as they tip. I've learned to become way more open minded as far as sub-cultures go."
Who is the ideal customer to you?
"Someone who drinks a lot, because they know what they want. They drink good drinks and I like making them. The kind of customer that annoys me is the new drinker who orders shitty drinks but doesn't know how it's made, and they don't tip-they've never worked in the service industry and that's frustrating."
Do you, as a bartender, depend on tips for your livelihood?
"I'm learning ways to supplement with screen printing, but our hourly wage is set up so that we depend on tips completely."
What's the best way to clean up vomit?
"We're lucky at the Jackpot because most of the vomiting happens outdoors on the pavement. A few pitchers full of soda water are pretty good for that. Indoors, we don't have to deal with it too much. You don't see people just throwing up at the bar. At Replay, I've seen it a-plenty. We get more refined, older drunks at the Jackpot."
What are your favorite drinks to make?
"I like drinks with a few ingredients, because it's more fun-but I like the strong ones, not the frou-frou. I like a good, strong shot. I like it when someone tells me what kind of liquor they want, but they don't know how-that way I can improvise. It's fun to make rickies and margaritas. We have a really great liquor selection, so we kind of take pride in making some fancier stuff."
What's your favorite cocktail to personally imbibe?
"Vodka and soda with lime. Good vodka, though-not wells."