#314 Watching bartenders work really fast

It’s more than a pour.

Watching a bartender work really fast is like staring through the factory glass and watching all the whirring parts bump and grind before your beautiful finished drink pops out. Yes, you’re the foreman in a hardhat standing with a clipboard and a smile watching all the bells ring, springs spring, and assembly lines ding before a glass full of ice, cherries, and umbrellas pops out right before your eyes.

Now, there are some key moves mastered by most really, really fast bartenders:

1. Throwing things. There’s no time to place the bottle cap in the trash can so it’s important to fling it off the mirror and let it Plinko down between all the vodka and Peach Schnapps bottles on the bar.

2. Absolutely no talking. In a way really, really fast bartenders are like really, really fast mimes. Usually they’ll raise their eyebrows or put their ear in for the order and then immediately start slicing lemons, stirring glasses, and squeezing taps without speaking. Black clothes and painted teardrops optional, unless you’re in a goth bar.

3. No official measurements. Forget the rules because really, really fast bartenders trust their eyeballs and know their mix ratios cold.

Yes, when you watch a bartender work really fast you’re seeing an expert in action. Eyes are focused, feet are fleet, and hands are steady in these beautifully intense scenes of quick pours, expert fills, and fast and furious moments of



Photos from: here and here

30 thoughts on “#314 Watching bartenders work really fast

  1. there is nothing quite like the feeling of being a high volume bartender. bands playing loudly, people screaming over the music and you knowing what the couple four rows back are going to order simply by watching their lips. your only words uttered are tab totals, usually followed by a pantomime of finger gestures. an almost silent night in the loudest environment ever. thank you for honoring us. cheers to (for me) the most AWESOME post ever.

    1. “An almost silent night in the loudest environment ever.”

      A very awesome way to put it! I used to be bartender and one of my favorite things about it was the silent communications.

  2. Some of them are so amazing!

    One of the places we went on NYE was so packed, there really was no time for talking … customers would squeeze up to the bar, shout their order, receive a curt nod, and a few bottle-tosses later, their drinks would come flying across the bar. It was pretty awesome.

    Why American men should boycott American women


    I am an American man, and I have decided to boycott American women. In a nutshell, American women are the most likely to cheat on you, to divorce you, to get fat, to steal half of your money in the divorce courts, don’t know how to cook or clean, don’t want to have children, etc. Therefore, what intelligent man would want to get involved with American women?

    American women are generally immature, selfish, extremely arrogant and self-centered, mentally unstable, irresponsible, and highly unchaste. The behavior of most American women is utterly disgusting, to say the least.

    This blog is my attempt to explain why I feel American women are inferior to foreign women (non-American women), and why American men should boycott American women, and date/marry only foreign (non-American) women.


    1. Rambo,
      Sorry you are hurting. You will love again.
      This subject has a far deeper societal root…the foreigner’s
      have deemed “us all”, “Neurotic America!” And most of us at the core are all foreigner’s.
      And Foreigner wrote some Awesome music!
      One “16×9” on this is the “killing us softly”, series…
      “Let’s one and all, STOP the violence and in the words of Lennon,
      “Give peace a chance”….. “IMAGINE!” …”Love, love, love!!!”

    2. Rambo –

      I don’t mean to be presumptuous or anything, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that given your opinions above, I’m thinking that your “boycott” isn’t entirely necessary..

      That is to say, you make views like that public and I’m pretty sure the whole you-not-dating-American-women-thing will take care of itself.. no need for a formal boycott or anything..

      1. I don’t think the whole dating-foreign-women thing will work out either, considering his penchant for making sweeping generalizations about 1/2 a country’s entire population.

        1. Very good point Lara.. let’s just generalize our rule for John:

          We don’t see “dating” being a big part of your future, regardless of that nationality of the women.

    3. THANK YOU.

      I’m so glad you’re boycotting me, because what intelligent woman would want to get involved with a man who makes broad generalizations about people?

      Just remember that there’s only one thing that all your failed relationships have in common: YOU.

      1. My husband said for me to be sure I mentioned here-in, I did not mean to send the message, we are all foreigner’s. All due respect be given to “our” first nation people’s, who just happen to be a part of our family blood line too.
        And Jen, remember “Hey Jude” for she is now a part of you…
        take a sad song and make it better:)

  4. By the way everybody… ZOOM in on the last picture of Neil’s “musing” bartender’s post and you will see
    Neil’s dancing on the ceiling!!!
    Smashing good time you had then…AWESOME!!!

  5. They always make me wish I could go to bartending school. I was a barista for 5 years…not quite the same, but I did get the spinny caramel bottle trick and the whipped cream canister flip down pat :) That was the only upside to making those obnoxious Frappuccinos.

    1. I was a meat slicer in a deli for a while, but for safety reasons it’s best not to do that TOO fast…
      Also, it’s frowned upon to *throw* the meat back into the display case. Trust me on that one.

      1. Lara – It’s probably a good thing you didn’t attempt some trick where you took that little canister of steamed milk and tossed it behind your back.. I’m pretty sure that would’ve led to some pretty serious dairy-related scalding..

        jdurley – meat slicer at a deli??

        *stifles back dozens of infantile jokes that involve references to handling the “salami” and so forth..*

        Have you ever seen an old MasterCard commercial that used to play here in the states all the time with Peyton Manning? He was showing what it would be like if people in “regular” jobs got cheered for like athletes.. one of the people he cheered for was a deli-slicer, with the memorable chant: “CUT! THAT! MEAT.. CUT! THAT! MEAT!!”

        It might be my favorite Peyton commercial ever, and that’s really saying something..


        Btw: A little known fact about my Nutella-obsessed wife? One of the few things that she might like more than Nutella, Snuggies and Twilight?? Peyton Manning… her crush on him is beyond all reason, and appears to be totally non-sexual.. but the fact remains.. she is totally, irrationally in love with him.. it is by far her biggest celebrity crush..

        1. I hope your Nutella-and-Twilight-and-Peyton-obsessed-Snuggie-wearing-strep throat-catching wife doesn’t get mad about you revealing so much information about her here…or you might find out that her crush isn’t so non-sexual after all… :P

        2. Freddo, re: meat jokes – yeah, I’m pretty sure I’ve heard them all! After all, I WAS working with a bunch of teenaged boys at the time. (the afternoon shift at the grocery store was 95% teenaged). It was a lot of fun, actually, and really easy to make friends with dogs on the way home. (cue mental image of jdurley riding her bike home while being chased by pack of neighbourhood dogs, all trying to get a bite of her meat-smelling feet as they spin madly on the pedals). Good times.

      2. ooh, funny how universal the cafe experience can be. I can relate to both of those stories. Yeah, always good to be mindful in a cafe that slices and steams . . . sharpens your reflexes though. You learn how do duck and dodge. Catching a flying canister careening towards your noggin, or the display case, is the ultimate in barista babe satisfaction.

  6. For a guy who used to live in NYC and would occassionally get dragged out to the latest in late-night hotspots, I just found it awesome when the bartender would actually take my order and not just ignore me in favor of all the ladies at the bar..

    All for the privilege of shelling out $10 for a beer?

    But you’re right – if they move faster, it’s better..

    I particularly like it when they’re making many of the same drink and line up a whole row of glasses and then just start pouring into them without lifting up the bottle, thereby spilling all over the bar as well..

    1. On Thursdays, a local bar here has $3 long islands served in a huge mason jar. Since that drink tends to be ordered in bulk, I often get to admire the multiple drink marathon in a sloppy bar puddle.

  7. This also applies to hibachi chefs, except their work involves fire, so I think they might even rank slightly higher than bartenders.

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