"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee.com 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, rapid bar reviews and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!
In recent years, wine pouring became one of the many hospitality-industry conundrums, because establishments need to make enough money to stay in the game, and yet the only way to ensure repeat business is to provide customers with the most value for their hard-earned cash.
Hence, when pouring a glass of wine, most bartenders strive to strike a balance between a prudent pour that ensures profit and appeases the customer at the same time.
The amount of wine poured at bars varies from a strict measurement to a splashy estimation, but according to master ‘tender Paul Kennedy, the goal is to get five glasses from every bottle.
"Roughly, 5-ounce pours are ideal," says Kennedy, who works at Tonic Tavern, 2335 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Brocach, 1850 N. Water St., and Hector’s on Delaware, 3040 S. Delaware Ave.
Although 30-year bartending vet Kennedy eyeballs his pours, he says being more precise is a good idea for newbie drink slingers.
"With a green staff, measuring is not a bad idea," he says. "But be discreet about it."
Angel Otero bartends at Nessun Dorma, 2778 N. Weil St., and he measures his pours in a 150-milliliter chemistry beaker before transferring it into the glass.
"We don’t use traditional wine glasses, so it’s the best way to be sure I’m pouring the right amount," says Otera.
John Dye, owner of Bryant’s Lounge, 1579 S. 9th St., agrees with this measure-first method of pouring alcohol.
"I found that free pouring can lead to problems as different bartenders have different ideas of what is a full pour," says Dye. "I like how Nessun Dorma uses a chemistry beaker for a consistent pour."
Dave Mikolajek -- aka OnMilwaukee.com’s contributing writer known as "College Dave" -- bartends at Balistreri’s Bluemound Inn. At Balistreri’s, a taped-off wine glass sits behind the bar to remind barkeeps how high to fill the glass. However, according to Mikolajek, Balistreri’s recommended pour provides more blush for your buck.
"We don't overpour, but in reality, we pour four glasses (per bottle) compared to many other restaurants' five," he says. "We're generous with not only our pours, but with our pricing, too."
Chad Ellingboe is an assistant manager at Trocadero, 1758 N. Water St., and when he’s on the drinkers’ side of the bar, he prefers an unmeasured pour.
"When wine is measured it makes the establishment feel more like a corporate chain," says Ellingboe.
Plus, Ellingboe believes confidence is an important quality for bartenders to demonstrate in their personality and their ability.
"Seeing bartenders who know how to pour perfectly each time makes me appreciate them a lot more and shows that the establishment has hired professionals," says Ellingboe. "Allowing the staff to eyeball their pours gives the bartender a sense of pride in their work, and when a guest sees them, it gives a sense of professionalism."
In general, Trocadero bartenders use the eyeball method, but only after being trained to pour a 5-ounce glass of wine consistently. After the initial training, bartender are occasionally tested to ensure accuracy.
"We have, from time to time, instituted measuring in order to compare numbers and test bartenders' accuracy, and it’s a good way to refresh the bartender’s memory," says Ellingboe.
Rachael Franks, like many drinkers, understands that too many overpours can upset a bar’s delicate profits, but she is not willing to sacrifice how much wine she receives in her glass.
"If I am paying $7 or $9 for a glass of wine, I want every last drop," says Franks. "And then some."
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.