August 24, 2011

Can You Keep a Secret? I Can but I Don’t Give a Shit

I like my bars simple. Walk in, sit down at the bar, order a beer. Maybe it’s a little dark and dodgy, with pictures of ex-presidents hanging on the wall. Drinks are a reasonable price. And I can wear sneakers and prosti-tot girls don’t judge me. If they happen to serve Mozzarella sticks, that’s a plus.

But lately, it seems that all these new and “hip” bars are secrets - thanks NY MAG!!! You know what I’m talking about. You walk through a hardware store, get to the back door, knock three times. An extremely attractive man who smells delicious opens the door and tells you that the bar is at capacity. He opens the door just enough so you can catch a subtle glimpse of what is inside. What? Is that Justin Timberlake talking to James Franco?! “DON’T CLOSE THE DO-” SLAM.

He will write down your phone number and text you when you can come back. You’re then forced to putter around for three hours, biting your lip anxiously as you await the news as to whether or not you’ll be able to join the secret society. All the while, you are of course wearing five inch heels, a mini skirt, and you blow-dried your hair. Flash forward three hours and you are sitting with your friend in a diner filled with questionable clientele, stuffing your face with disco fries.

Bars: WHY ARE YOU BEING SO COY? Don’t toy with me! I already have enough problems with boys and their mysterious behavior. I don’t need my liquor venue to play games with me too! Don’t dangle JT in front of my face and then snatch him away! I could have had my chance!

Fast forward a few hours later, you now have gravy from the disco fries on your new mini, your hair has fallen flat and the bouncer who you swore winked at you before wants to call the police on you for being a disturbance. You grovel and beg to be let in - if for nothing else but the chance to touch James Franco’s face. Just as the bouncer is about to physically escort you to the curb, you have an epiphany: who gives a shit? Would you even want to talk to the people at those speakeasys anyway? Knowing your luck, you’d finally get in and inevitably be surrounded by frat brothers who don’t get your jokes: “So, you ever heard this one? I’ll tell ya. A priest and an aborted baby walk into a bar…”

Like almost everything else in life, the speakeasy gains its reputation from its mystery. The speakeasy reminds you of that guy who had moved from Seattle and transferred into your 7th grade class - rumor had it that his parents got divorced when he started a meth lab in his basement; that still didn’t stop you from wanting to be his best friend. However, with the speakeasy the fun is over in a few hours, which is why speakeasy enthusiasts have to beat it to death for weeks. They will say things such as, “I can’t believe we had to knock on a steel door and talk to a man called Jamal to get in” or “It wasn’t just the food, it was the experience. The whole thing was to die! Amaze, just amaze.” The elephant will then enter the room and you will know that they have to hype it up to save their dignity and justify their three hour wait.

So now while friends, family and ex-cons are still scrambling to get to every speakeasy in the city before they become ‘public,’ I have learned that there is never a line at McDonald’s nor do they question you upon entering the golden arches. So, can I keep a secret as to the newest speakeasy out there? Yes, but I don’t give a shit.


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October 26, 2011

Bartenders With Benefits



By now I’m sure you’re all familiar with the term “friends with benefits.” There have even been two movies released this year on the subject. And you know that if Ashton Kutcher and Justin Timberlake are promoting something, it must be true. “Friends with benefits” is a concept thinly disguised as “fun” and “convenient.” When in reality, it is more akin to an emotional mind fuck. I (Sara) have never participated in one of these relationships. Inwardly, I will chalk this up to me being prudish. However, contrarily, I will outwardly declare that my lack of a friend with benefits is because I am “smart” and “responsible” and “above that sort of thing.” I also can (honestly) say that I do not have herpes like the majority of my generation.

Though I have never had a buddy to engage in recreational pleasure with, I do have what me and Claire call “bartenders with benefits.” Now, bartenders with benefits is a term we coined after we realized how important relationships with bartenders are.

The initial phase of this process is the scope out. The scope out helps you determine if you actually want to become a regular at this establishment. You survey the clientele, estimate the proximity of it to your office or apartment, see how decent their pour is, and find the average of how many times you can secure a barstool. 

We have a select number places which we frequent on a regular basis where bartenders smile when they see us walk in. Like old friends, we pick up where we left off. What are the instructions to having this happen you ask? Well, the first step to building the bridge from customer to top patron begins with sitting at the bar. Maybe the service is slow and you say, ‘no problem, take your time,’ showing that you are neither an uppity high maintenance girl nor have the patience of a frat boy waiting to approach the keg. Remember - the fastest way to NOT get a free beer is to treat your tender of the bar like a serf. Also, ladies - befriend the male bartenders.

After having been to said bar a few times, make your presence known. Be friendly but humor the bartenders - witticisms go a long way. So, now that you’ve been to this bar enough times to have acquired some kind of badge via foursquare, it’s time to start making tracks. The methodology begins with learning your bartender or bartenders names - this is one of the most important steps. Every time you walk into this joint, say Hi Brian, (disclaimer: Brian is just an example. By no means is every bartender named Brian nor are any of our bartenders named Brian.) After learning his name, learn a little bit about him, but not too much. You do not want to be subjected to the drama of his life considering you’re at the bar in the first place to talk about the drama and gossip in your life with your friend.

If you feel discouraged about still not having gotten a discount or a free drink, remember this is a slow process. Like a friendship, you are literally building a relationship with someone you see maybe only once a week. Think of the turtle and the hare, slow and steady wins the race. Once you break the barrier of receiving your first drink, be thankful but do not make a big deal of it, play it cool, then tip well to show that you appreciate the Stella. So friends, good luck, godspeed and make friends with your own bartenders - please don’t steal ours.

Tips to remember:

1.) Do not treat your bartender like a serf

2.) Witticisms go a long way

3.) Remember names

4.) If you do not remember a name, don’t let it show

5.) Smile and show you’re happy to be there

Happy Imbibing,

Sara & Claire

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friends with benefits Justin Timberlake Ashton Kutcher Stella Bartender