No holds barred: local bartenders share dirty little secrets
Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee.com is back for another round – brought to you by Aperol, Pinnacle, Jameson, Fireball, Red Stag and Avion. The whole month of February, we're serving up intoxicatingly fun articles on bars and clubs – including guides, the latest trends, bar reviews and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!
We get it: what happens in the bar sometimes stays in the bar. So with that in mind, OnMilwaukee.com recently distributed an anonymous online survey to local bartenders and asked them questions that they, most likely, wouldn't answer honestly if their name was attached.
The responses ranged from prudent to racy, and here they are.
The first survey question was whether or not bartenders have allowed customers to light up indoors after the smoking ban took effect in July of 2010 and 57.1 percent admitted yes and 42.9 percent said no.
"I smoke after we close, when I am cleaning," wrote one bartender.
"A VIP customer lit up a cig and I really just didn't say 'no,'" wrote another.
When asked if they drink on the job, 85.7 percent said yes and 14.3 percent claimed no.
"I used to, but a drunk bartender is a sloppy, inattentive bartender and I like being good at my job," wrote one bartender.
"Not as much as I used to," wrote another.
Others claimed it was important to drink with customers to make them feel comfortable and to have fun. One said it "promoted camaraderie."
Out of the bartenders polled, 57.1 percent said they do not let friends and regulars stay and drink after hours, but 42.9 percent said they sometimes or regularly do.
"Only if they are helping to clean up," wrote one bartender.
"I don't want to be at work longer than I have to, but if they are too drunk to drive home and need a ride I will let them stay until I'm done cleaning up but not to get more wasted," wrote another bartender.
A whopping 95.2 percent of the bartenders said they give away free drinks with a mere 4.8 saying they do not.
"Sometimes it really helps with the tip," wrote one bartender.
"I rarely give away free drinks, but when I do, they are paid for by me, not the 'house,'" wrote another.
On the subject of bar sex, 47.6 percent of the bartenders have caught people in the act and 52.4 percent said they have not witnessed such passionate interactions during a shift.
"I have seen way too many knees and feet together in one stall at the same time," wrote one bartender.
"Yup, and it's definitely a case-by-case basis as to whether I let them finish or throw them out," wrote another.
When asked which type of customers they hate the most, 57.9 percent of the bartenders said poor or non-tippers; 21.1 percent said customers who refuse to leave, 15.8 percent dislike drunk customers the most and 5.3 percent said they care the least for customers who order difficult-to-make drinks.
"Rude people who think they are doing me a favor by letting me serve them," is how one bartender described the worst customers.
Another described the worst customers as those who "belittle and assume we're uneducated."
According to 85 percent of the bartenders, men are better tippers than women.
"As a female bartender, I think guys are more inclined to tip better because they appreciate the interaction more," said one bartender.
When asked if they ever hooked up with a customer in their bar, 45.5 said yes and 54.5 said no, they had never done that.
"She's my future wife," wrote one bartender.
"After hours, a few times," wrote another.
"Unfortunately, not in a long time," said yet another.
As for stealing, 13.6 percent admitted to pilfering from their bar but 86.4 percent said they have not.
"Karma is a bigger bitch than I am," wrote one bartender.
"Hell no! My bar is awesome and I don't believe in stealing," wrote another.
Just under 60 percent have witnessed drug use in their bar.
"Weed, pills, coke, mushrooms, ecstasy, LSD and hash," wrote one bartender.
"I busted a guy smoking pot once on the patio. I told him if I ever caught him again I'd personally call the cops," wrote another.
Only 9.5 percent of the bartenders said they have knowingly let an under-aged person drink at their bar. More than 90 percent said no way.
The basic sentiment was "it's not worth the risk."
If an obviously drunk customer orders a drink, 59.1 percent of the bartenders said they would not sell them another, while 40.9 said they would.
"I offer water or a really kick-ass non alcoholic drink to drunk customers," commented one bartender.
"It depends on who they are and how they are acting," wrote another.
And finally, there's this one:
"I hate cleaning up puke or dealing with stupid, wasted idiots."
Here's to the true unsung heros of service industry. Thank you for putting up with all of us. Seriously. Especially Billiam and Erica at Points East.
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