At the turn of the (21st) century, I spent a year back in upstate New York. When I tell people my life story, I tell them it was the year I took off from my life. It was a time of switching gears for me, because I had decided I’d had enough of my chosen field (Market Research) and yearned for something different.
So I took a year off and returned home, ostensibly to go to grad school at Binghamton University and take flying lessons. But what really happened was that I bartended (much to my parent’s chagrin), spent a year exploring a few different creative outlets and did a lot of introspection before packing up and heading south in search of gainful employment in marketing once again. Without either a graduate degree or a pilot’s license, I might add.
Believe it or not, I remember most of that year fondly. Bartending was, well, let’s just say it was interesting. Within hours of my arrival back in Chenango County I fell into a job at what was then the Silo City Club in Norwich, which I thought was impressive as I’d never really bartended before. Luckily, I’d been mixing martinis for my father for years.
I’d like to think I was a quick study, but Rhonda, who had to train me, may have another story to tell. But before too long I was bantering with the regulars, scrutinizing anyone I didn’t know and wowing everyone with my signature margarita.
Bartending, like waiting tables, is something I think everyone should have to do at least once in their life. It gives you a different perspective. (And makes you better tippers.)
Anyone who has ever bartended can attest to the fact that you see a different side of people when you’re on the other side of the bar. There are good times, don’t get me wrong. But there are also a few things, like Thursday night karaoke, which I’d hoped I would one day succeed in blocking out. No such luck. To this day, I can’t listen to Johnny Cash without getting flashbacks.
When I moved back here last year, I was amazed at how many people remembered me from my days behind the bar at the City Club. It also scared me a little that I remembered what some of them drank. (A sign that they frequented the establishment a little too often, perhaps?)
I never thought I’d get a chance to put that residual knowledge to good use, but it might come in handy this weekend. You see, I’m signed up to do a guest bartending gig on Saturday night at Nathanael Greene’s Publick House on Genesee Street in Greene.
Enzo and Irene Olivieri, who own the fine establishment, are letting me make a special one-night appearance. I’ll recap the experience for a Punching the Clock article next week, of course.
Will it feel a little bit like I’m cheating, since I’ve bartended before? Maybe, but who cares! It’s been at least 8 years since I’ve been behind the bar. I know it will be a blast.
So come one, come all to Nathanael Greene’s on Saturday night. You’ll get to put my rusty bartending skills to the test and might even get to see your name in print. Just make sure you’ve got your wallet with you – I’ll expect you to tip.