This post was written by Shelby Muff.
Bartender skills must be multifaceted in New York — good pick-up lines included. There’s more to serving eats and drinks to temporary Manhattanites than you might guess. I’m not a bartender myself, but I am a tenured eater and drinker — just ask my mother. After spending a short time in New York City, I came to some educated guesses about the strange server I met there.
If you’re going to be behind the sacred bars of New York (and I imagine every other city), then you have to be an expert flirt. Not a creepy flirt but a top-notch flirty flirt, with sparkling eyes and an endless stock of rehearsed compliments. I’m thinking they make Excel spreadsheets of these for on (and maybe off) the job. Of course, having an unlimited amount of hard alcohol at their disposal and a foreign accent doesn’t hurt their flirtatiousness either. My savvy Columbian self was caught a little off-guard one evening during my first visit to New York.
The flirtations started when I replaced my potatoes with string beans, a standard preference for me, while ordering the overpriced rosemary chicken. The Irishman granted my hungry wish. Soon after my dinner plate was steaming in front of me, I dug in. “I could watch you eat those beans all night,” the all-too-forward bartender said.
And I bashfully replied, “Isn’t that what you’re paid for?”
I’m not a practiced bar flirt. My collegiate peers behind Columbian bars don’t care to watch me eat fried pickles, let alone praise me for it. So the opportunity hasn’t come up for embarrassing responses in such settings. Thank goodness for that.
I surprised myself and handled this unfamiliar situation particularly well. Each undercooked green bean brought on another free shot, one broken glass, an empty promise for a waitressing job, and lots of deep-down-in-your-full-belly-laughs from my new busy bartending friend. As the night grew later and later, my own bar behavior changed, too and I sensed myself becoming more practiced in the flirting department than I ever intended. I got to know the guy behind the bar by going beyond the standard “What are your drink specials?” question.
Eventually, the flirty Irishman got his fat tip, and I got a taxi home.
(Photo: Missourian file photo)
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