"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee.com – brought to you by Hornitos, OR-G, Party Armor, Red Stag, Absolut, Fireball and Malibu – is back for another round! 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!
Bar month has me gooey and nostalgic over a really great time in my life.
All too long ago ... in actuality (gulp) an entire decade heretofore ... I was in the throes of the service industry, living life as a Milwaukee bartender. The years spent slinging booze behind the bar are some of the fondest, most carefree, and lucrative of my life.
For a girl who never touched alcohol before a tenure at Marquette University as a student and consequently a patron at Theo's (rest that bar's lovely soul), I adapted to multitasking poppin' bottles and doin' shots with very little grace, and even less dexterity.
I was fortunate enough that my dear friend, William Jenkins, bestowed my very first barkeep position upon me, although my resume was a barren wasteland in terms of mixology. I eagerly learned the ropes at the beloved Cush and was promptly put onto the busiest shifts: Fridays, Saturdays and (I know a lot of you miss Cush's SIN) Sundays.
If you weren't a "drinker" before, walking through the doors of Cush would change that; probably with a shot of Jack Daniels procured through a game of bar dice. I am flummoxed that I can still palate Patron or Jaeger subsequent to my residence there. I have also, to this day, never had as much unquestionable fun at any establishment since. I sincerely loved my boss, my co-workers and our guests – even the ones I cursed at.
I was not a "nice" bartender by any means. I did not have a talent for remembering slews of drinks, nor mixing particularly tasty concoctions. But, I could remove beer bottle caps (with a bottle cap opener kept holstered in the back pocket of my painted-on pants so strictly it would create a permanent imprint and ultimately excavate the denim) and pour long islands, shake a decent cosmo and deal Jaeger bombs swiftly while wearing a low-cut tank top and spouting banter/yelling.
Almost immediately, I began to prefer working instead of going out socially. I felt protected by the barrier of the bar, empowered by its barricade. I worked my tail off, but still felt like I had partied. And, instead of coming home empty-handed, I had a wad of cash in my young fist, which eventually even bought me a condo on Prospect Avenue with a slight view of the lake.
I would close each shift with the bottom of my jeans and boots soaked through with a melange of melted ice, beer, cocktails and who really knows what else. I remember faintly smelling of a strange blend of alcohol at all times from marinating in the blend every night. My feet and lower back would ache from the hours standing and the occasional lugging of ice buckets or a case of beers up a flight of stairs.
Eventually, my body couldn't take it anymore. "It," being the late nights and general physical demands of the job. I decided to bow to my insufficiencies and pursue a life of daytime hours.
Every time I pull up a stool or push my way through a sea of people to order beverages, I take a moment to appreciate those fine people behind the majestic barrier that is my favorite bar or chosen venue. It takes a special breed to serve in the places "where everybody knows your name."
So, I tip. And I do it generously as a way of paying tribute to those glorious years spent pouring hooch.
And although I sometimes feel the beer taps summoning me to hurdle the bar, I have decided that there is no way of reliving those years. But, I will forever be a bartender at heart – a bartender made in Milwaukee.
Another great story, L. I just read this after bartending a super busy dinner shift. I've been at this for 20 years now, and you hit it on the head when you mention the actual physical labour of it. My legs are SORE.
2 comments about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Lindsay Garric
Published June 30, 2015
Sluts can relax. There's yet another demographic being shamed.
Published June 17, 2015
The breeze cools the tops of my feet and sneaks between my toes as my soles deftly navigate every detail of the varied terrain through the most minimal athletic shoe I have ever invested in - Bedrock Sandals.
Published June 1, 2015
If farming had professional athletes, Dela Ends of Scotch Hill Farm would be an all-star. Her certified organic, family-run farm located in Broadhead, Wis. has provided nourishment through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) to Milwaukee and neighboring cities since 1994.
Published May 20, 2015
Penelope Shihab, founder of biotech company MONOJO and CEO of Milwaukee's Columbia Biotech USA has an innovative take on creating and maintaining clear skin.
Published May 6, 2015
Scott Roush is the drummer for Rossonian, a "hot pop, garage soul, electro-sensual rock & roll" band returning to the area to appear at The Jazz Estate on Thursday, May 7.
Published April 24, 2015
It would seem that Sir Mix-a-Lot was ahead of the curve(s) when he confessed, "when a girl walks in with an itty bitty waist and a round thing in your face, I get sprung." Milwaukee-area fitness professional Angelina D'Amico is taking full figured advantage of the bodacious booty trend.
Published April 13, 2015
This is what happens when someone who writes a blog "with a polished finger on the pulse of beauty, fashion, fitness and nutrition trends" binge watches the first season of "Lost."
Published March 26, 2015
Lindsay Garric chats with jazz pianist Andy Milne about his band Dapp Theory, the details of his Shatner collaboration, Milwaukee's vegetarian culinary fare and more. Dapp Theory gigs at the Jazz Estate on Friday, March 27.
Published March 18, 2015
The question of weather a dog can actually be mentally ill is a controversial topic in veterinary medicine, but one that blogger Lindsay Garric asks anyway.
Published March 2, 2015
There are some things that no human, no matter how much grace, patience or tolerance they possess can abide. There are some things that get the goat of even the Mother Theresa of airline passengers.