Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Hey Bartender – In Praise of the Neighborhood Barkeep

Bemoaning the Loss of a Bartender

“Hey drink up all you people
Order anything you see
And have fun you happy people
The drink and the laughs on me
Today we pause from the pettiness of politics to instead ponder a far more enjoyable and vital subject – the friendly, neighborhood bartender.

They stand behind the highly polished maple monolith, affable to all, judgmental to none. Kings and Queens of all they survey, and all things to all people – confidante, spiritual advisor, career counselor, relationship expert, sexual therapist, medical consultant (does this look infected to you?), sports bookie, entertainer and skilled dispenser of potent potables.

The one thing (or one of countless things) teetotalers misconstrue about the corner tavern is that it’s not the demeaning destination of decadence and debauchery they envision in their temperate minds.  It’s not a locale for tying one on (okay, although certainly not singularly devoted to that intent, it is indeed a suitable setting should that be your aim) but for those with a more social bent your bar is where you wander in to share news both bad and good, to feed a hunger or slake a thirst, to conquer boredom, to view a game with a convivial crowd or bring an awkward date so you can find a hint of relief and relaxation.

Discovering a saloon in which you find comfort and solace can often require a lengthy and legendary Holy Grail-like quest. But once your expedition culminates in success, you’ve found a precious, valuable and sometime precarious thing, necessitating strongly established relationships with that bar and most importantly its staff. For any structure can open up, install taps, purchase glassware and a selection of spirits, and christen itself with a random pair of nouns - The Rat and Parrot, The Whip and Viper, The Palin and Clown - but, it is the employees within who set the tone, establish the atmosphere and, with engagement and empathy, differentiate it as the inn where you want in. If you’ve never had a bar in which you feel you belong, as much a part of the environment as the Guinness tap and the buffalo wings then you, my friend, have truly missed something, a home away from home.

A few years ago, upon receiving the information that I required an operation (my first and so far only one) there was no question of where I needed to tarry and, it goes without saying, my cash was not accepted legal tender that day, as rejected as an immigrant at a GOP convention.

In my lengthy existence, significantly more than half a century, there have been but 3 watering holes to which I’ve felt such loyalty and had it returned in kind, the world famous McSorley’s Old Ale House, Ye Olde Tripple Inn (despite the name it did not require time travel to a past century), and currently, and in long-standing, the House of Brews. When traveling to other metropolises, an immediate exploration of that city’s hospitable public houses is always essential.

Gone, but not forgotten - Ye Olde Tripple Inn

“Pardon me but I got to run
The fact's uncommonly clear
I got to find who's now the number one
And why my angel eyes ain't here

They ply me with alcohol, (of course some are more pliable than others), earning my endless affection and devotion with the demon rum, and then, each and every bartender in his or her proper time, like Don Knotts departing “The Andy Griffith Show,” moves on in pursuit of a more satisfying dream, their own “The Incredible Mr. Limpit” leaving my now slightly less healthy heart in temporary tatters.

So, today we raise a glass to those who served and served well, their names famed, and very often Irish - Noreen, Jerry, Colin, Didi, Carol, Ronnie, and now Pat, the latest to follow his Yellow Brick Road (for those whose names I've missed, sincere apologies, but as you know, I'm generally drinking when we meet.)  I could go on at great and complimentary length about the beneficial contribution those aforementioned have made to the humble and needy life of this one barfly.

Some people have clergy, some psychologists, some of us, bartenders.

Appropriately, we end with the premiere saloon singer, performing one of his standard saloon songs – Frank Sinatra and “Angel Eyes.”

Any comments, questions, criticisms, candid confessions, cash contributions?  Contact me at butchersaprons@mail.com.


  1. Ah, yes, that was me back in the day. Loved every minute of it, especially the down-to-Earth people I got to spend 10 hours a day with. Long live the local dive!

  2. Thanks for reading the blog, and thanks for also appreciating the experience. 10 hours a day? Nice.