There's a great blog post entitled "Shameful Bartending" discussing how some craft cocktail bartenders are becoming hostile, not only to customers, but to their peers. An anecdote from Denver bartender Sean Kenyon is shared, in which a bartender scoffs at a group of customers for their order, as well as other not-so-shining examples of bad bartender behavior.
"I was recently enjoying a drink at a cocktail bar. The guest next to me, who was probably in his early 50′s, asked the bartender if they had Jello shots. To which the bartender snottily replied “ABSOLUTELY not” (a simple no would have sufficed). Undeterred, the guest then ordered 8 mixed shots for him and his group of 7 women in their 40′s and 50′s. The bartender’s response to that request? Eight shots consisting of a mix of Green Chartreuse, Lemon Hart 151 & lime juice. Two overproof spirits & citrus? Was he punishing them for daring to order mixed shots or Jello shots? Not one person finished any of those shots (there was a lot of funny faces made) and the smarmy barkeep gladly charged them full price for all. This is a classic example of the bad direction that our craft is headed. The bartender let his ego get in the way of making his guests happy, and was more concerned about his needs than his guests. Shame.”
I think we're lucky here in Los Angeles, in that this is still a club scene full of vodka-soda and vodka-cran drinkers. Sure, we'd all like for people to drink better and to expand their knowledge base, but at the end of the day, craft cocktails is still very much the minority. This creates two positive effects: one, a craft cocktail customer is one who ordered that Manhattan for a reason, and two, a craft cocktail bartender's ego is put into place.
That being said, the customer is not always right. This is not unique to craft cocktails, or the bar and restaurant service industry, or anything. There will always be jerks. And I've witnessed plenty of people who scoff at the profession in the first place. "Shut up and pour me a drink!" would be their mantra. I like to think that these jerks are simply a vocal minority, and that most LA customers simply want to get some liquid courage and go back to socializing (even if it's with the bartender themselves).
[Continue reading at: Dr. Drink's Apothecary]