From The Bar ~ Bartending, Cocktail Waitressing

Another segment of a project The Rise and Fall of a Saloon in the Latter Part off The Twentieth Century. These excerpts are not chronological. In fact very little logic prevails…

Bartending and Waitressing
The Focus of the job is this:

The Perfect Customer Space:
1. A clean, dry surface
2. One Drink
3. A dry napkin
4. A clean ashtray
5. No dead glassware

Bartending, and its sister trade, cocktail waitressing, is part of the vast Service Industry of our nation.  Some bartenders take up the trade as a lifelong career.  Most do not.  You might be surprised to know that, particularly among the younger practitioners, Bartending and Cocktail Waitressing has put many an ambitious achiever through school.
As time goes on, some bartenders keep up the trade and become somewhat transitory as they move from saloon to saloon.  The young, vibrant cocktail waitress that likes the trade may learn bartending or move to being a waitperson at a nice restaurant or any of the small business cafes and small eateries that dot the nation.  Cocktailing in a busy, loud, live music saloon is a young woman’s job.

The attractive thing about being a bartender (outside of the social availability of members of the opposite sex, (some of whom see the “mixologist “as a near celebrity) was never the base pay.  Base pay for bartenders at The Bar was a dollar above the prevailing minimum wage.
It was the ‘gratuities’…the tips… That is what the attraction was…
Most bartenders at The Bar went home with between fifty to seventy five dollars per shift, a good sum for the time, more if the night brought in a lot of ‘party hardy’ folks.
The day shift was not only lucrative, but the hours were more “normal” when compared to the workaday world.
This tip money is recieved untaxed.  No declarations or deductions were ever required to be made accountable to the house.  The IRS, of course, expects its citizenry to be honor bound and declare their tips as income at the proper time and pay accordingly.  Caesar, after all, will have his renderings.
Let us strive to believe that this is exactly what a young adult would do with this wad of cash they tucked away at the end of shift.  We will believe they went home and noted the exact amount in their personal ledgers so they could do their civic duty at tax time.

A waitress, be she green or an experienced pro, was always paid minimum wage but could make almost as much, sometimes more than a bartender, particularly if she had a singular beauty to match her abilities at drink service.
The waitress usually worked with a 14” round, cork lined, serving tray with a clip-on clamshell device called a “Cash Caddy” attached to the rim that held their money…kept the coins organized a slot for currency in the hinged lid. Some women preferred “bare knuckling” it, keeping their coins in a rocks glass and their bills in hand. This made room for one more drink for distribution and gave them a literal firmer grip on their folding money. Cocktail waitresses share “war stories” about thieves doing snatch and grabs of their money.
Some arrived on the job with their own “bank” or start money, usually twenty dollars. Most would just write an I.O.U. on a cocktail napkin and hope they made enough in tips through the night to “make their bank” and pay off the I.O.U. And if the crowd was not in a tipping mood this could be a source of anxiety. “Making their bank” was always a relief but they didn’t make money until the I.O.U was covered.
It was a saloon tradition that the waitresses must ‘kick’ the bartenders ten percent of their tips because tradition also said that when the bartenders were making drinks for the waitress to sell they could have been making drinks for their own customers. And since they actually made the drinks it was considered only right that they should make a little more for their trouble and expertise.
Some feel this is unjust but it is also The Way Things Were Done.
Everybody made more money if they dressed right and entertained the customers by adding some personality to their style. Good saloon service is, after all, largely Show Business.

But no matter how you looked at it, being a bartender or a waitress in a saloon that was bringing in good houses was a heady way to make money.

To the customer it looks easy.  You pour the drink, you take the money…Stay tuned as I educate you to the work involved in serving alcohol to the masses so you might have a better understanding of The Trade… a better understanding of what goes into actually providing…

The Perfect Customer Space:
1. A clean, dry surface
2. One Drink
3. A dry napkin
4. A clean ashtray
5. No dead glassware

To be continued…


Paper Dolls by Vann

This is another of my efforts based on a Cosmopolitan model…i have no idea who she might have been.  Hair was always hard for me to do and I think that is maybe why I like this one… I had better luck with her hair…

I loved doing lips.  They took hours because I used a special transparent ink… layered…

2 thoughts on “From The Bar ~ Bartending, Cocktail Waitressing”

  1. Norm, I do NOT swing that way, but I must confess, those Cosmo lips are downright kissable! Exquisite artistry, my man!

Comments are closed.