The Bartender Game

jean compton
3 min readDec 23, 2021
Photo: Louis Hansel/Unsplash

My favorite bartender, let’s call her Chloe, recently left her bartending job at our favorite restaurant. I miss her. She always seemed like a hard worker. On busy nights, she would be running around like crazy. She was efficient, personable, made a damn good, mixed drink and didn’t take any shit.

She even got on one of the regulars for continuously buying all of his friends at the bar their drinks. An old timer, he never tipped, therefore, she didn’t get any tips from any of his friends either. So, she called him on it. He never came back again.

The old timer had been coming in there for years. The owner was pissed.

So, when she hadn’t been around for a while, I asked one of the other bartenders what happened. According to him, there was some drama, of which I can’t recall, and then he said, “Chloe never replenished the stock. She was a pretty sloppy bartender.”

We were just in our favorite restaurant again last night, hoping to see our now favorite bartender, Joe, to wish him a Merry Christmas. A new trainee was on the job instead. We were latecomers, had a quick bite with our drinks at the bar and watched as she concocted one of the seasonal, festive drinks. A sort of White Russian with a peppermint twist.

As we watched her struggle with dipping the glass in a dishful of chocolate, then a dish of crushed peppermint, she attempted to get the peppermint crumbs evenly dispersed. After finishing off the drinks, the waiter picked them up to deliver and the bartender said, “Sorry they’re so ugly” referring to some too large chunks of peppermint in the mix. “They’re beautiful!” insisted the waiter. Then came the clincher, “Joe was the peppermint crusher.” “I can believe that!” retorted the waiter.

Bartending must be stressful. At some restaurants, the waiters and bartenders share tips. Not at this one. So, they have to make their own.

I remember when I waited tables at a Thai restaurant in New York City. One night, a couple, who were regulars sat at one of my tables. They were apparently pissed that I wasn’t getting their drinks from the bar to them fast enough. The guy pulled out at roll of bills and proclaimed, “I could buy this restaurant,”. I rolled my eyes and let the bartender, Jim-who was also the manager-know what was going on.

jean compton

I have an eye for the artful and influence. Essays, Memoir and Musings on this and that. Currently working on a memoir about my life as a dancer in 80's NYC