A Rocking New Years Eve

7 01 2011

If you had asked me one month ago what I would be doing for New Years Eve, my answer would have had something to do with me not really caring. As 2011 drew close it was looking as though we would spend New Years Eve at Shabbat dinner with friends.

In certain senses we are traditional in our religious practice, but this past Friday night we decided to branch out in our post-synagogue activities for something that was (dare I say) much more fun. A friend of Ayo’s from the gym is a party planner, and she had been doing the work behind a huge 300+ person New Years Eve party. The party was to be held in the penthouse of LA’s largest tower, where $100 entry would buy you an open bar, great DJ, and lots of attractive partiers.

Last minute, the party planner friend needed two bartenders and we agreed to pinch hit for the occasion. Bartending would be a fun experience for each of us, and New Years Eve would probably be the best night of the year for tips.

Bartending a huge party rocked! We’re not such party animals, and had we been on the other side of the bar we would have felt a bit out of place. But behind the bar was another story. Behind the bar we enjoyed the party, recognizing that the 5′ radius around our bodies was the party. Take the bars away, and the party would be gone. Standing behind the bar and serving a mob of guests nonstop from 9 pm to 2 am was exciting, fast-paced and strangely made us the most popular and in-demand people in the room.

Ayo At The Bar

Ayo At The Bar

For a bartender, a night like that is all about tips, which includes making people generally happy but also playing “the game.” (Ayo wasn’t as well schooled in the game’s rules, but says that she is more savvy for next time.  Nevertheless, her “be fair to everyone” attitude probably means that she won’t play as hard as I do. And… without trying she still pulled in more than I did.)

The rules:

  1. Money is king.

Examples of what money buys:

  1. I could have just told someone that they were next, but if you stick your hand around the side of the bar with a $20, you’re getting your drink first. Sorry, other people.
  2. A hefty tip after your first drink will get you noticed for the rest of the night.
  3. For an undisclosed but quite large tip, I handed a guy a bottle. This was purely a status symbol. He could have ordered six or seven double-shots and had the same amount of vodka, but having the bottle was a whole other matter. This not terribly attractive guy ended up surrounded by girls all night.

What Money Doesn’t Buy, And Some Advice

  1. Almost without exception the people who tipped well got VIP service all night. This basically meant standing out in the queue, more personal attention, and my taking extra precious time in making their drinks the way they want them. That said, money won’t necessarily get you that. One and only one guy was a dick. He gave me a great tip early on, and then was loud and obnoxious later in the night when I didn’t salute every time he came into sight. Everyone else was a gentleman, and the biggest tippers were generally the classiest people.
  2. I really didn’t mind people who didn’t tip, as long as they weren’t asking for ten glasses of champagne.
  3. Looking like you know what you’re doing will get you a few more bucks. A few YouTube bartending videos helped out here.
  4. If I tell you not to do something or move back from the bar and you don’t listen, don’t expect to be served next. Or next after that.
  5. Get noticed, but don’t do it by making a scene. Make eye contact and say hello, and even if I don’t serve you right then, you’ll be on my mind.

We were supposed to start the job at 8:30 pm and head out at 2:30 am. A bit before 1:30 am, however, the fire alarm started going off. People didn’t really care, and I assumed that it was triggered accidentally by someone at the party. About 20 minutes later, the room had been nearly cleared out by people that I thought were building security. Nope. They were cops. Lots of them, and the party was definitely over.

The bar had started to die down – particularly when we ran out of everything except beer, soda, and energy drink – and we didn’t mind getting out early. Ayo and I stuffed our bags full of our tip money (it felt a bit like a bank robbery), and hopped on an elevator that was being operated by the police. We spoke with a manager before we left, who told us that we were done for the night as the party was shut down. Sweet.

It later emerged that the party didn’t have the necessary licenses to serve alcohol. I’m glad that it wasn’t shut down before my bottle buyer got his way!

posted by jay

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5 responses

7 01 2011
Stumpy and Cyndi

Hi Amy! Hi Jay! Thanks for visiting RVly Ever After! I hope you’ll have some sage advice and kick in the pants if it looks like I need it!

I’m loving your blog. I started back at the beginning. so much to read, so little time. I need a few rainy days in the desert to catch up!

Happy Trails, forever!
Cyndi and Stumpy @ RVly Ever After

7 01 2011
Ely

When did you guys learn to bartend? Don’t you have to know a ton of drinks to do that? How’d you guys do in tips?

Oh, and Jay, I have trouble believing you did better in tips. Smiling girls usually take home the most from my experience (not that I tip any differently regardless).

7 01 2011
frugalveganmom

Ha that sounds like tons of fun, I’ve always wanted to try out bartending. I wouldn’t trust myself to not end up as tipsy as the customers though =).

8 01 2011
jayhorowitz

@Stumpy & Cyndi

Sure thing, although It looks like you’re doing just fine keeping the flame lit on your own. Keep it up.

@Ely

Something we left out: The options were champagne, beer, and five or six mixed drinks with vodka. That didn’t leave too much to be screwed up, so our lack of bartending credentials didn’t hurt us.

We did much better than we thought with tips, but Ayo actually killed me. Just on the numbers, she beat me by ~10%, but if you take out what I got for the bottle that I sold, it would have been more like 25%.

@frugalveganmom

You wouldn’t believe how many customers wanted to get me drinks, which I thought was pretty funny because it was an open bar and I was serving. I have bartender friends who all drink after work, but never on the job. I now totally understand where they come from. Serving a crowd takes a lot of focus, and I completely get why people would want to unwind afterwards.

12 01 2011
Lunkhead

This brought a smile to the skin on my soul.

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