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Food

One Thing I Hate About Working Nights

I work as a bartender in a downtown lounge and that means long into the night. People like to stay until closing, which is quite late. It is an urban area that attracts the local night owls. They prefer a good round of drinks before bed rather than watching TV. It is a social scene as well. People meet up with friends or make new ones. Everyone is willing to talk. It is that kind of environment and I love it. I will mix up anything their hearts desire, especially if it involves mescal. It is my specialty and I can make magic with it. But I have one pet peeve which is walking to my car in the dark at night. I usually ask another worker to accompany me if I have not secured a spot close by—within a block. But sometimes no one is available.

One very dark and creepy night when there was no moon in sight, the streetlight went out. Maybe it was a bulk or an electrical failure, so I was on my own. I imagined all sorts of horror stories like people lurking in the shadows and scared myself silly while walking to my car. Some people carry a keychain that can turn on their car lights and this is a fabulous idea, but mine doesn’t. Instead, I carry a Flashlight Pro model with me to lead the way on such dark nights. I hope the streetlight will be back on soon, and I may even call the city. I am likely to park once again in this unlit spot.

The flashlight has enough power to reveal anything in my path. Surely it would deter any muggers but you never know. I have heard about such goings on in the city but frankly nothing bad has been reported for a long time near the bar. For this I am grateful and I leave work alone when I must. I also know the patrons who live in the area and they might be out walking their dogs. If I encounter them, it is no trouble. If I get really panicked about walking to the car, I may ask the boss if I can park behind the lounge. I know he has a spot but he doesn’t always use it and he often leaves early. I am usually one of the last to go. I think he will understand my need for more security being a woman. I will pick my moment to bring the subject up. Meanwhile I am wielding my trusting flashlight. I also have a small one as a backup on my keychain.

I approached the boss with some trepidation but it was alright. He understood. He said that I could park behind the lounge but he warned me that there was a lot of garbage. Use that flashlight of yours, he suggested, and it was good advice. I wouldn’t go anywhere in the dark, even a few feet, without it.

Life

Spiffing Up for Tips

I make a decent as I have been at bartending for some time in my downtown urban lounge. I have garnered quite the reputation for mixing some wild exotic drinks—many with the popular mescal. This gives me an edge over others in the field and keeps the patrons coming. I know many of the regulars quite well, but we always get newcomers from time to time. Don’t get me wrong. I also love working for tips as they add nicely to my modest income. People in this business depend on them, waiters and waitresses included, to reach a certain level of pay.

It can’t hurt to flirt a tiny bit (bat those eyelashes, girl) to get bigger tips. A smile may do the job but not as much as looking good. I try to dress appropriately for a lounge and wear enough makeup to look attractive. As a result, I have always experimented with different makeup styles and have even gone for the hot look of eyelash extensions. I really do believe that this effort has brought me more tips.

Have you (ladies of course) surveyed the makeup section of your favorite cosmetic store with an eye toward the false lashes? You will see dozens of styles. It is rather amazing and how do you choose the right one for you. There are spidery long lashes and short, fat ones that line the lid well. You can cut them to the desired length if they are too long, but most women prefer that look. They have various names for these appendages: angel eyes, flirtation fancy, or hot mama. It sounds ridiculous but it is a marketing tool. I don’t care. I just like to wear them to look special in the bar at night. No one just watches me make drinks to learn how to do it. They do, however, like to chat and that means looking one another in the face eye to eye. Hence the lashes. It takes more time to get ready for work, but I have my afternoons free. I can apply my makeup and eyelashes hours early and go about my errands or visiting friends before work. Fortunately, the type of makeup I buy is good quality and lasts through the night until I leave work. However, it means at least a half hour at home removing the stuff. Those lashes must come off every night. Some people have them applied by a professional and they can last for up to two weeks. Now this is the way to go! But it is expensive, up to $100 a pop. But maybe it is worth it to save so much time. I get tired when I get home from work and would love to just jump into bed. This may be the route I take in the near future.

False eyelashes of any type, store bought or salon applied, are my best friend. I am more than happy with the way they earn good tips. Who would ever think it?

Food

The Customer is Always Right…Right?

It’s slow season, I guess. Last night I worked with John and Trisha and a new bar back named Tommy and I let John go home, like, four hours early because there was no need for that many of us behind the bar. Trish busied herself in the back going over the stock and organization of our liquor and beer closets with Tommy while I polished some glasses behind the bar, up front. It was barely into dinner service when an elderly man walked in and sat at the bar. Our first customer of the evening, and we’d already been open for two hours.

“Hello sir,” I called to him. “How are you this evening?”

I walked over and made myself available, throwing my polishing rag over my shoulder. Immediately I could tell he was going to be an odd one. He looked at me like I was from outer space and then proceeded to look behind, almost like he was looking through me, at our bar, squinting his eyes.

“Do you not have a menu? I can’t see that far, anymore,” he barked at me.

“Why, yes, of course we do,” I said, chipper, while thinking, why didn’t you just ask for it? I presented him both a food menu and cocktail menu because I was unsure which he needed or wanted to see.

“I don’t need to see that,” he said roughly and shoved the food menu towards me.

Okay….

He stared down at the cocktail menu for a long time, a whole 30 seconds probably, while I stood in front of him, waiting for a question I knew he would have, wanting to be available, wanting to show that I was patient and happy to help him. But the question never came, so then I thought, maybe he wants his space while he contemplates. I know I wouldn’t want a server or bartender hovering over me, making me feel rushed to choose. So I began to walk away over to the end of the bar to polish more glassware. Then he looked up, “Hey, where ya going?”

“Oh, I’m sorry, sir. Are you ready to order or have any questions?”

“No! Don’t rush me!”

I blinked at him. “Okay, well, I’ll just be right here, sir. Whenever you are ready, okay?”

“Don’t play that game with me, missy,” he said sternly, like I was his granddaughter telling him I was dating an ex-con.

“I’m sorry, sir?”

“I know what you’re doing,” he said and gave me this crazy stare. While I was trying to discern if he was cursing me or having a stroke, Trisha walked up behind me from downstairs with Tommy in tow. She must have sensed the oddness or tenseness of the situation because she looked over at the old man and said, “Are you okay sir?”

“Are you a manager?” He asked, immediately.

“No, sir, I am not, but I can certainly grab someone for you. We’re happy to help if something is wrong.”

“Something IS wrong,” he nearly shouted. The hostess at the host stand looked up from her iPhone, curiously.

“Your sister over there is rude and condescending.”

Trisha looked over at me and I put my hands up and made an expression that said, “I don’t know, I’m innocent.”

Was this guy crazy? Maybe he was homeless and just wandered in off the street? Maybe he was an actor and we were on a prank show?

“Well, I can take care of you, sir.” Trisha walked over to him and walked him through the cocktail menu (which was the page he had been looking at) and then he ordered a beer we happened to be out of, so Trisha suggested one very similar in taste.

“This establishment is the worst service I have ever had,” he muttered as he gathered up his coat and began to haphazardly get off the barstool.

Trisha tried to reel him back in by almost pleading, “I’m sorry, sir! How can we make you happy?” But he left the restaurant nearing breaking our door by pushing it open so hard it bounced off the outside wall. The hostess stared over at us with a face of fear; we looked back at her with faces of boredom and disdain.

Sometimes you just get crazies. You can’t do anything about it. Keeps work interesting, I guess.

Life

Pest Free

I work in a popular downtown lounge as a bartender of specialty drinks. We get a variety of customers with different tastes and personalities, but they all have one thing in common. They value our A rating for cleanliness. More than one patron has mentioned it. While some bars in our neighborhood are “B,” we are at the top of the heap. I do believe we get customers who might have gone elsewhere from time to time. Pests, particularly roaches, are the kiss of death for a public place that serves food and drink. We must by all means keep the bugs at bay. Sure, you can set traps or do a bug bomb, but I wonder about its effect on human health.

We had a pest control service at one time, which is the most common solution; but the chemicals leave a residue for a long time. You must leave the premises for hours and hours and make sure no pets are in the place. It is a scary thought—all that toxic stuff. I have taken it upon myself to look for the best roach killer that is “green.” This means that it is only harmful to its target pests. This is important to me because I know someone who had residential extermination service and got home too soon. She could smell the chemicals and started to cough. That is a sign of potential lung damage. I am on the track of something that would never cause such a reaction, even in the most sensitive people. I know we can be pest free safely and securely if I hit my mark. And I did, I read about a company that uses orange oil for termites so you don’t have to tent your property. They also sell a DIY extermination kit for home, office, or store that works in a similar manner in repelling roaches without trapping them with toxic bait. I got on board with this concept and bought the kit right away.

Success! I love to end a blog with a happy conclusion. The solution I bought in fact worked. In fact, it worked fast and just as promised. Just follow the instructions. You place it where roaches are likely to go such as kitchens and wait a few days. Then you either see carcasses you can dispose of or the roaches have departed for good. They don’t like the taste or smell of the powder and it sends them packing. I don’t want to put exterminators out of business, but this product is by far a better alternative. It is cost-effective and doesn’t require a year contract. What could be better. My boss loved my ingenuity but I give credit to a friend who mentioned that he had used orange oil. It all proceeded from there.

You can be bug free safely. Just go online. There are a few sites that sell the roach kill I am touting at a fair price. You need to apply it every other month for a short while during “roach season.”
Good luck.

Life

Fun in the Sun

I love water recreation but I can only do it when I take a vacation to a coastal area or island where I can snorkel. I seek crystal blue water laden with sealife and I take an underwater camera to capture its magic. I can also use my uncle’s inflatable kayak and take lake trips as this opportunity is closer to where I reside. Given my love of outdoor water escape, imagine my surprise when the boss said all the workers could take a day off to go to the beach on a nice day. We had worked hard with many late shifts and it was time for our reward. It takes some time to get to the shore so we had to start early. He gave us the alternative choice of kayaking on the lake in an inflatable canoe that he would rent. I had done this so many times, and while I love it, I opted for the beach. Others wanted to use an inflatable kayak and a small group elected to go that route. The lounge owner said we could also bring friends to share are day off in the sun.

This was going to be a wonderful outing, each group in its own chosen location. Many of us packed lunch and snacks so we would all be provided with ample food. We dug our swimsuits out of storage and tried to find an old beach towel or two. These are colorful and of sufficient size to accommodate even the largest person in our group. We had to find an umbrella, a beach chair or two, an ice chest and thermos. There is nothing like lounging on the beach and digging your toes in the sand to rid yourself of any residual stress or anxiety. Working at night builds tension as we work at a face pace for a demanding clientele.

As we approached the beach in our van, we could see long stretches of golden sand. White-crested waves populated the shore and beckoned us to enter the water. It seemed to go forever into the distance with no land in sight. Not even a channel or island. I know in California you can see oil rigs with flashing lights far off the coast, pumping liquid gold. We trekked down a short windy path through the sand near the road to become closer to the water. Here we set up “camp.” In no time at all, we were ready for our water recreation. Some rented surfboards and others wore snorkeling masks. They walked to some nearby cliffs to see if there was a good location to scout below the surface. As for me, I love to swim and bodysurf in the waves. They were only of modest size but enough to have fun.

The day grew long and it was time to pack up and go. We had to tear ourselves away from the spot. We had a long drive ahead and needed to get started. We had enjoyed a wonderful time together and hoped that another outing would be planned soon.

Food

Busy Night at Work

Last night was insane. Everyone behind the bar was totally surprised because it was Sunday night, then Antonio pointed out that the next day would be Labor Day, so, yeah, no one had work and everyone was drinking the night away. By seven all 15 bar stools were taken and Antonio and I were so busy we hardly had time to look at or acknowledge each other. Both of us had our heads down, making drinks, cracking open beers, or looking to customers to ask for their order.

I don’t mind it, though. It makes the shift go by so quickly, and of course, I made bank! I realize that I get into a nice flow when it’s fast paced that I can never get to when it’s slower. In fact, sometimes I feel less willing to work when we have a slow night. I went up to the hostess stand after we were closed and she told me that we had done close to 650 covers! Insane. On typically “busy” Sunday dinner shifts we do, maybe, 400. I laughed, shocked, and she laughed too. She looked flustered, her hair was frizzy and her face was gleaming with sweat. It must have been a nightmare to run around the restaurant and patio seating all of those people. I’m feeling thankful the bar is only about 15 feet of space I have to walk back and forth through, that’s for sure!

It was definitely a fun night for Antonio, and me even if it wasn’t for her. The customers at our bar were friendly (although lively) and they weren’t super needy either, which was surprising. It was around 8:30 that people began lining up behind the customers that were seated to order drinks. They didn’t have a table or a reservation and were waiting to obtain either, so they shouted over the hustle and bustle of the restaurant, “Beefeater Martini, please!” or “Can I look at a menu?” There was no in between.

It was around this point that I noticed the dining room on the right was full and the lounge area on the left was full, and from what I could tell the outside patio was too, that’s when Antonio and I got flooded with drink orders from the servers and cocktail waitresses. Then there was hardly time to interact with the customers. Bartenders choose to work differently. Antonio tends to check in with people at the bar that make eye contact with him. He’ll be shaking a tumbler or mopping up a mess and he will always break from it and go up to someone at the counter who looks like they need attention and ask them, “Doing okay?”

I’m different. I prefer that you flag me down. I’m busy. I’ve got things going. If a customer of mine really needs me, I should hope that they’d catch my attention somehow.

However, I also know some people don’t feel comfortable shouting across a bar or find it “rude”. I get it. So I try to check in from time to time, as well. Sometimes Antonio will help me with my guests, and I appreciate that. Sometimes we tip pool. We’ve been working together behind the bar for over four years now, so we know how the each of us likes to work and respect one another. That’s one of the major reasons I love to work at Esperanza, and busy nights aren’t a headache because the staff just grooves with one another, you know? Bartending isn’t always like that at any or every restaurant or bar. Psh. Trust me, I know. I’ve been doing this since I was old enough to, to help myself through college, and now to help myself through grad school – a total of almost seven years!

Sometimes it kills me. But it’s the busy nights that kick my ass that I always appreciate. They remind me why I do this job to even begin with – it’s hard work but it’s rewarding when you close up at the end of the night, count your cash, and go home to two sleepy cats and a warm bed.

Life

So Shiny!

This blog is an ode to the pressure washer oddly enough. I recently learned of its many cleanup benefits. I had never used one before or ever considered buying one. Now my tune has changed. This is a handy item that anyone would want to own, and now I do as you probably can tell. If you have dirty exterior walls, a filthy garage, a grimy sidewalk, or a debris-laden fence, you could use a pressure washer to restore everything to normal. It is quick and easy. No skills are required to operate one unless you want maximum commercial use power. I didn’t buy one of this strength. If you do, it means you just must read the instructions or get a demonstration from the supplier. You can also see how they work in many videos online. YouTube if full of DIY information on most any subject and that includes the handy power washer. You will get ideas for other uses as well.

It all started recently at the lounge. The manager called the workers together and explained that it was time to spring clean the place as a group. This way it would go faster. My assigned job was to scrub and polish the bar. I normally clean up diligently at the end of work each night, but he wanted me to “go deeper.” You should be able to eat off the bar, he said. I laughed. Okay, understood. Meanwhile another worker was told that his chore was to power wash the exterior of the building. He liked to have this done at least once a year. It can get dirty from the rain or drunk people throwing drinks against the front wall for no reason. When you work in a lounge, you should expect the unexpected. Most of the time, my work life is rather normal. But over time, the place gets dog-eared and you need a heavy cleaning.

So out came the power washer and I wanted to watch. As I mentioned, I had never seen one in operation before. My friend knew how to wield it skillfully and sprayed the walls with just the right amount of power. I didn’t see him soaked to the bone. That was encouraging. You can use this device and stay in control. We all worked hard because we wanted it to be done so we could get back to our regular routine. The walls and bar counter were squeaky clean and as the boss said—so shiny! He was clearly pleased and we were off the hook for another year.

Okay, not everyone has a use for a power washer, but we clearly did. I now find so many things to do with it, that it has been worth the money. I even loan it to family and friends so it gets an additional workout. It seldom sits idle for long. So don’t hog it all for yourself and you will gain favor with others.

Life

Fun Day with the Family

I work nights as a bartender so my days must be carefully planned. There are but a few precious hours to do errands, tend to my house and yard, see friends, shop, and pamper myself at the salon. I can’t go to the gym at night like other people so it has to be early morning. It is hard to believe, but I fit in all in plus a bit of time to do online research for my job. I am looking for exotic drinks you can make with mescal and they are buried deep in the Web.

Given this horrendous schedule and the fact that I rush around through the day, I am bright eyed and bushytailed in the lounge at night. This week is full to the brim, but there is always the weekend. I look forward to a time of rest and relaxation. It will be broken by a fun day with the family but I don’t mind., We are having a potluck so I am thinking about something different to bring. A potluck to me means that people make the food with their favorite recipes. I am volunteering pork chorizo and I know I am the only one with the skill and the right meat grinder to make it. You buy sausage and add the spices that make it distinctive. You either love it or you don’t, but I find that when I bring it, there are always takers. It is tasty as it bites the tongue and frankly it beats unflavorful turkey sausage any day. You can add as much or little as you like of paprika, salt and pepper, coriander, and cumin. These ingredients give it the magic taste. Some people add garlic and red wine. You slip everything into readymade casings using a sausage stuffer. You can just heat them up or sauté the seasoned sausage in a pan and add peppers and onions for a full meal. It is a versatile and exciting approach to home dining, and perfect for my potluck.

The day of the potluck was glorious as we all brought out our culinary wares. Each specialty was carefully placed on a long, wooden table. After we were done it was a luxurious spread. You didn’t know where to start. Some people actually didn’t know about chorizo but were willing to taste it. What is your secret, they asked? I answered, the meat grinder with the cold coarse attachment, not wanting to give more away. I didn’t need competitors in the family for my cherished specialty. At the end of the day, some food was left, but none of the sausage. It was so unique that everyone wanted a taste. This is to be savored, said more than one person. I was ecstatic that my contribution had been a success. I don’t see why I can’t make it each and every time we all get together. The idea of a potluck is to try new things.

Food

Trying a New Menu

Yup, it’s that time of year again, folks! When the managers and other head of house come sniffing around the bar, sizing the cocktail list up, and asking, “What’s on here that’s seasonal?” Christmas is still more than two months away and already Jamie is like, “We should put something on here called Smoking Rudolph or Santa’s Pipe!” She laughs and the other managers chortle and when she walks away I give Trisha and Antonio this look like, “What….”

We’re not going to do that. That’s stupid. That is a stupid name for a cocktail and it’s October. But,we brainstormed.

“We should put something a little more seasonal on there, though,” says Antonio unpacking bottles of beer from their box into the mini-fridge.

“Yeah…” Trish and I say, wistfully, with vacant stares and pause.

Summery items are on the menu, it’s true. We’ve a lot of citrusy drinks, Mezcal with grapefruit and lemon, cocktails made with lemonade and Cointreau. So I thought about it while at our horrendously boring and useless FOH (and for you non-service industry folk out there, that means – Front of House) meeting. I couldn’t get away from the fact that Mezcal paired so well with grapefruit and citrus by cutting its smokiness with sweet acidity, but then I thought of it!

A play on apple cider! Apple cider is sweet and acidic but definitely not summer. After the meeting, Antonio joined me behind the bar to try and play around with the idea. We borrowed apple cider from the dessert chef from the kitchen and she suggested adding an actual red apple to the rim of the glass for color and interest. It was perfect! At the end result, we added a few more ingredients, put it in a rocks glass with ice, and topped it off with a nutmeg, cinnamon, cumin, and sugar rim. (We had to use a green apple slice because we had no red in-house). Before Jamie was out the door, I slid the concoction down the bar.

“What’s this?” She asked me from a few feet away, picking up the drink and sniffing it. “It smells pretty!”

Really. She said that. We told her about the drink and she tasted it and lit up like a light bulb. So, anyway, yeah, not to brag, but we’re trying out a new cocktail on the menu and I created it! So next time you come by Esperanza be sure tobe sure to ask about the Oaxacan Christmas.

Life

Just Because You’re Paranoid Doesn’t Mean You’re Wrong

I work weird hours, long into the night. I sleep late in the morning which means I skip breakfast. I exist on a liquid diet a lot of the time as I am too busy to make a proper dinner or even to go out. I grab something quick at the lounge, but we have a limited menu. In short, I make do. Sometimes I resort to fattening snacks that people bring to work as a meal substitute. I am worried that I am gaining weight and am even getting a bit paranoid about it. I always prided myself on being a normal weight, if not borderline svelte. Bartending isn’t active exercise so it doesn’t tone you up. At best you are moving your arms as you shake a martini. I have to do more.

To quell my fears about packing on the pounds, I bought a body fat scale to find out. Sure enough, I had added to my physical being a few pounds. Experts say, don’t panic. It is easy to lose small amounts of extra weight. Get out the weights at home or go to the gym. Or diet for just one week. This means no more high caloric snacks, although they taste so good. I love salted almonds and cashews the best. I never was one to turn away crackers and a good cheese. Sweets can be the bane of anyone’s existence and fortunately I can do without chocolate most of the time. It was all so tempting when I was hungry, but I am now going to bring healthy things like raw vegetables and fruit juice to work.

The experts were right. I did lose the weight in one week and returned to normal. The fat fear was gone. I suppose it is a good thing–like an alarm system to keep you aware of your weight. It is so easy to binge eat and see the consequences in a short period of time. Now the only fattening thing I will eat is a small piece of birthday cake to be polite. You don’t want to insult the birthday person by turning it away. Meanwhile I do recommend a bathroom scale with a body fat analyzer attachment. Many of these connect with your laptop and give you daily data. You can monitor your progress easily and make adjustments to your routine.

It is interesting how dependent we are on certain appliances. There are many digital scales on the market at fair prices that will make your life much easier. If I had to choose between an upgraded scale or a new coffeemaker, it would surely be the former. I can always go to the local café. The scale I cannot do without. There isn’t a public one anywhere like there are blood pressure machines in drugstores. So take my word for it and save up.

Life

Long Night Last Night

Something weird happened last night. I think it was a mishap in the kitchen at the lounge where I bartend, and the whole place lost power. I quickly ran into the street to see if other businesses were affected. They were not, and the street lights were on. This meant that the utility company would not be coming and we were on our own. The customers were being patient and didn’t want to leave. They were drinking and were all rather content. We made it clear that we would soon take care of the matter and our dim lighting would go back on.

People liked the spooky atmosphere and started to have conversations with others. Patrons who were normally quiet and morose became verbose. It was an interesting reaction to the power outage. It seems that they were all banding together to survive the dark night, at least until closing. It was hard for me to see to work. At best I could use candles and a big flashlight. But there was a better answer. The owner of the bar, appropriately titled Esperanza Mezcaleria, had a portable generator in the storage room in the back. As he brought it in to power the lounge’s lights and bar appliances, I almost hoped it didn’t work as it would spoil the mood that the darkness had created. But alas, it did work and we could work and drink again in light. It helped us at closing when we had our cleanup routines to execute. The owner was worried about food in the freezers and was not sure the generator would have enough power to keep them going. The workers and manager left for home, all of us with a bag of something to try to preserve. Since it wasn’t a widespread outage caused by a storm, no doubt our freezers would be functioning. Meanwhile, the owner waited for an emergency visit from the electrician.

The next night I found out that one of the workers in the back of the lounge had plugged something into a broken socket, thus causing the power to go out. It could happen to anyone. We just had to be more careful. Meanwhile we returned to normal and the power generator returned to its storage rack. These are great little motors and it would be great to have one at home. They come in large sizes so you can get back to normal after an electrical failure, even if you have a big house. People use the small ones for camping trips, their work area in the garage, and situations like ours at the lounge. I think this is a really useful purchase if you don’t have one. You can research on line to see the range of motor sizes, brands, and prices. Why not look for a sale or discount. As for me, a generator would be one of the most practical buys in my life.

Food

Will Work for Tips

It really is the slow season. It’s been raining so much lately, no one has any interest in our patio, which means the front of the place never looks full, which means people walking by think we aren’t doing business. Most people don’t want to sit in a bar by themselves; they want action, they want people around them laughing and having a good time. Sometimes I swear I’ve thought about hiring people to just sit at our bar during the winter season to liven things up.

I wonder what a Craigslist ad like that would look like…. “Bored, broke bartender seeks actual customers. Sit at the bar. Drink for free. Make me look good. Entertain me.” I feel like people would respond. But I never post anything like that, because, well, it’s ridiculous. Esperanza is a great place to work, don’t get me wrong, it really is. I’ve been here over four years and there’s a reason for that. It’s not that I’m stuck. I choose to be here and stay here. But the winter season SUCKS!

We’re all getting desperate for shifts. Different bartenders take the slowness differently. You can always tell who is good at saving money or has a second job because those are the ones happy to go on vacation and take the days off. The ones who suck at saving money, have no other means of income, or are perpetually broke (that’s me, in case you didn’t guess) have to hustle. I like going up to the host stand and seeing which nights have the most reservations and then if I’m not working those nights, I ask other bartenders if we can switch shifts. I make some excuse, like, I have family in town that night or concert tickets or whatever, and then get on a Saturday that’s busy solely because the dining room and lounge are full.

I don’t feel bad about it. It’s survival of the fittest out here. And in case you forgot! I gotta pay undergraduate AND graduate student loans off. I need all the money I can get.

Food

Tequila vs. Mezcal

Okay, okay, I get it. I work at a Mezcaleria and so you want to know the age-old question (something I get asked at work at least once a day) – What’s the difference between tequila and Mezcal? I promise I won’t get all sciencey on you, either, like a wine person would. The major difference that most anyone will tell you is that tequila is tequila and Mezcal tastes like smoke. They aren’t wrong when making that judgment, but it’s more observant than it is insightful.

So why is Mezcal smoky? And what are their differences? Are they similar? Are they both from Mexico? Okay, it’s simple. There are four simple facts everyone should and can know about Mezcal.

  • They’re both traditionally made in Mexico, although usually in different regions.
  • Due to laws upheld in Mexico, Tequila is only qualified as such if it is created with one type of agave – Blue Agave. Whereas Mezcal can be made with any agave, giving it more variety and flavor than Tequila.
  • The actual process of fermenting and producing Mezcal is more involved than with Tequila. Specifically, the agave that helps create Mezcal is prepared almost in the same fashion tradition barbacoa is cooked – in a dug out coal pit with lots of smoke. This is where the distinct flavor of the drink comes from.

So the next time you come visit Antonio and me, or Trisha, or Ashlee, or John – you’ll know what the key differences are. Hey, and I mean this, if you come and order a Mezcal flight and know all of those differences between Tequila and Mezcal, I will give you half off!

And tell your friends! Spread the word about Mezcal. Maybe one day I won’t have to answer that question at work if this P.S.A really takes off.