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The Path of the Bartender

April 1, 2009 By: Gary Regan

I'm turning the column over to a real old-timer this week: Harry Johnson.  All the quotes below come from The New and Improved Illustrated Bartenders' Manual or How to Mix Drinks of the Present Style: How to Mix Drinks of the Present Style by Harry Johnson, 1900.  The guy knew what he was talking about.
 
"A man in our line, to be successful, must be quick, prompt, courteous, able, a good student of human nature, a good dresser, clean, and possessing several more virtues." 
 
"The greatest accomplishment of a bartender lies in exactly suiting his customer. This is done by inquiring what kind of a drink he wishes to have and how he desires to have it mixed; this is especially necessary with cocktails, sours, punches, etc.; the bartender must also inquire, whether the customer desires his drink stiff, strong or medium, and then he must use his own judgment in preparing it, but at all times he must make it" a special point to study the tastes of his customers and strictly obey them, and mix all drinks according to their taste. In following this rule, the barkeeper will soon gain the esteem and respect of his patrons." 
 
"It is proper, when a person steps up to the bar, for a bartender to set before him a glass if ice-water, and, then, in a courteous manner, find out what he may desire..  If mixed drinks should be called for, it is the bartender's duty to mix and prepare them above the counter, and allow the customers to see the operation; they should be prepared in such a neat, quick, and scientific way as to draw attention." 
 
"The greatest accomplishment of a bartender lies in his ability to exactly suit his customer.  This is done by inquiring what kind of drink the customer desires, and how he wishes it prepared.  This is especially necessary with cocktails, juleps, 'sours,' and punches.  The bartender must also inquire whether the drink is to be made stiff, strong, or medium, and then must use his best judgment in preparing it; but, at all times, he must make a special point to study the tastes of his customers and, strictly heeding their wishes, mix all drinks according to their desires and tastes.  In following this rule, the barkeeper will soon gain the esteem and respect of his patrons."
 
"Bartenders should not, as some have done, have a toothpick in their mouth, clean their fingernails while on duty, smoke, spit on the floor, or have other disgusting habits."
 
That last one's a doozy, huh?
 
Thoughts Anyone?


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