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Goes Down Easy: A Bi-Weekly Column on Drinking
Thinking about drinking means considering every aspect of the process, including how your drink is served, and perhaps more importantly, who served it. The art of bartending, passed on from father to son or gleaned from one of those bartending guides you never seem to have the right ingredients for—blue curacao? Chambord? Seriously?—is a critical one.
I don’t know enough about bartending to give you a lesson, but we can bite the style of professional bartenders and apply it to our own parties: A few tips from the pros might be what you need to transform your party from four freshmen in Harbin to a full-fledged townhouse get-together.
Bartender Behavior: surprise, surprise, it’s a buyback—a round of free drinks, often shots, on the house. Look for this classy move at the Tombs and other bars that count on regulars for business.
How You Can Steal It: Your guests probably aren’t paying for the Coors Light they’re sipping, but a good host will be able to provide at least half the fun of the buyback—the drink—with a round of tasty shots or mid-level domestic beer.
Bartender Behavior: Knowing what the customer wants. A trip to Biddy Mulligan’s in Dupont Circle one week in September started with bewilderment (what to order?) until the bartender sized us up and suggested a pint of Guinness and a shot of Whiskey each.
How You Can Steal It: Know what your friends like and make sure you have it on hand; even better is to make sure you have a unique drink on hand and build the party around it—the classic White Russian Big Lebowski party, an Oktoberfest with the most authentic German brew you can find or a Mint Julep/Gin Fizz-centric celebration of the roaring ‘20s.
Bartender Behavior: Variety is the spice of life. A good bar will have a little bit of everything.
How You Can Steal It: This one’s easy. Don’t just buy three thirty racks. Spread the wealth around on liquors and mixers and a few bottles of wine.
Bartender Behavior: Infinite wisdom. A good bartender—like the publican who runs Hoyas in the Leavey center—has some life experience to share.
How You Can Steal It: Two words: pep talks. Serving liquor is a license to share your views on everything from sensitive personal issues to geopolitics. Just be sure to cloak your knowledge in a barely penetrable metaphoric story or clichéd wisdom. For instance, the woman in your life is always right, even if God comes down from heaven to say she’s wrong.
Give these tactics a shot, and maybe you’ll get lucky—if you serve like a bartender, maybe your friends will tip like barflies. You’re definitely paying for all the drinks otherwise.