I used to be like you. I used to be a regular guy. Sometimes I would go to bars and enjoy a drink. I have seen, and talked to my fair share of bartenders. Some men, some women, some good some bad, but never really thought much of it: they are just people making a living. One Friday night at a Green Mill in Roseville, everything changed for me when I saw Tom behind the bar.
As soon as he took my order, his voice distinctly proud and confident, I knew he was something special. I watched.
No. I admired him work for the rest of the night. I was not disappointed.
The bar gradually started filling up. I watched as all the empty seats around me were taken up by people of various sorts: some happy and celebrating, some depressed and convalescing. Tom took all of their orders promptly and delivered their beverages quickly without fail. But it wasn’t just that. Doing that is just part of being a good bartender. With Tom it was different. There was something special about his style. His arms moved so fast around the bar, sometimes I could hardly see them. I would blink once and he had already put away one bottle and opened another. Tom’s footsteps were firm and accurate: never a stumble, never a fumble. His facial expression didn’t change; he held he same handsome smile the entire time I watched him.
Occasionally, he would converse with a customer and have a chuckle over some joke he had obviously heard a hundred times before. I watched Tom grab four highballs and fill them with ice. Enamored by how skillfully he wielded the ice scoop, I almost failed to notice the ice in the glasses. Each glass was filled to exactly the same level with ice. I bet if one took the time to count the number of cubes in each glass, all four would have the same amount.
Tom then grabbed three full liquor bottles in one hand. He lifted all three up like they were empty and began to pour drinks. The finger and hand strength amazed me. Tom must be able to crush anyone’s hand if he gave a truly “firm” handshake. That is, if he ever needed to. After all the drinks were expertly poured, Tom deftly stuck a lemon wedge on the rim of one of the glasses. I spent a millisecond to think about what drink that might be, when I noticed there was now a lemon wedge on all four glasses. He grabbed four cherries, then four sword-shaped toothpicks. He impaled all four cherries directly through the center with the sword-picks, a feat unto itself, then impaled each cherry-sword combo through a lemon wedge.
The bar was booming. People couldn’t even walk past one another. Everyone needed service, everyone needed their bills. Any other bartender at any other bar would say, “Forget the cherries, it’s too busy for the cherries tonight.” Not Tom. It’s never too busy for cherries when Tom is behind the bar. As a matter of fact, it is never “busy.” Tom has transcended neophyte ideas like “slow” and “busy.” Tom understands bartending on a higher level. The bar only has two states: a state of order, and a state of disorder. It is Tom’s job to bring the bar to order.
There is no stress, no panic, just the belief and confidence that he is “The Bartender” and it is his destiny. Tom elevates bartending from an occupation to an art form. Tom is a true master of his craft with a superior understanding of theories mere mortals couldn’t possibly comprehend. Tom is a bartender God.