Sitting in front of a draft system with unfamiliar beers is the adult equivalent of being a kid in a candy store.

Many popular restaurants, bars, and even breweries attract attention for how many beers they have on their draft system, and how diverse the selection is. Keeping up with local and global brew trends can easily make or break a business’ allure. Expanding and rotating the beers on draft keeps customers coming back for more.

Not every customer wants to commit to 16 ounces of something new. Many want to try a sample for taste before making a choice. It makes sense, right?

Recently a friend went out for dinner at a Worcester County establishment and was curious about a beer they offered on the draft list. After asking the server for a sample she was given a 3-ounce (or less) pour. At the end of the meal she saw that they had charged her for the sample. It was just a few dollars, so the cost was not alarming, it was the fact that the charge was there at all that was surprising.

Sure, you wouldn’t be allowed to sample the food menu for free, but a lot more goes into preparing a small sample of food than pouring a small sample of beer. Thinking back, I have never worked in a bar or restaurant that charged guests for samples. Should I be considering this when customers ask to sample something new from the draft list? What is the limit on offering a small sample to curious customers?

Whenever asked for a sample of a new beer, I have always thought it was good service to oblige. A small pour, usually one-to-three ounces. Certainly not enough that someone could sip on the sample for their meal, or be happy with just that for their entire experience. Apparently, I am not alone.

“We feel that offering samples builds good customer relations,” said John Rinaldo, owner of The Muse at 536 Main Street in Worcester. “I have a pretty liberal policy at the Muse. We encourage our customers to try any of the beers on our tap list at no charge.” The Muse offers 12 draft options, which rotate weekly.

Jamie Chapman, Taproom Manager at Wormtown Brewery, wholeheartedly agrees. “Allowing guests to try a taste goes a long way,” according to Chapman.

Unlike many restaurants, Wormtown Brewery offers flights, which some might think would change their perspective on offering samples. At Wormtown, the main attraction is the beer, and it is especially for that reason that they have no problem if customers are curious to try one of their beers.

Chapman assures everyone that trying their beer will not be a problem.

“At Wormtown Brewery we are very proud of the beer we produce, and for that reason we want everyone to be able to try it. You are welcome to come see us and try a taste of any beer on draft. If we have 10 beers on draft that day, and you want to try all 10, we won’t stop you. Actually, we encourage it!”

Bartenders and servers can help customers narrow in on their choices by getting familiar with the flavors on tap. Knowing basic information such as what style beer they offer, as well any characteristics of the aroma and taste can appeal to a guest’s senses without needing a sample. For example, if the coffee aroma is the most impactful scent, but it has a cinnamon taste, a customer looking for something with citrus can easily rule this one out without needing a taste.

It’s true of all alcohol, but most notably beer and wine. At an establishment with a vast wine selection, such as Bocado Tapas Wine Bar, guests often come in unfamiliar with their wine list and looking for guidance (and samples).

“We are there to guide our guests through the experience,” said Veronica Reichardt, a bartender at Bocado in Worcester. “We have wine training each month to learn about what is in all of the wines that we offer on our menu.”

While Bocado does not have a policy regarding wine samples, the servers are happy to offer a small sample to inquisitive or hesitant patrons.

Confident and knowledgeable, they staff at Bocado doesn’t lead customers astray.

”Most guests usually go with the suggestion of the bartenders,” according to Reichardt.

Establishing credibility and creating a comfortable experience are crucial to building a strong reputation as a bartender/server, and an establishment. Providing a small sample to curious patrons is one way to satisfy customers that seems successful amongst many popular area restaurants and bars.

Last minute sales are popping up left and right. You think you have everyone covered, but who could you be forgetting?

Bartenders do not expect to get gifts from their regulars, but sometimes the generosity does make its way across the bar. And who are we to decline? Of course, customers aren’t the only ones who think of us. Friends and family usually aren’t sure what to get the bartender on their list.

 

Wrapping up this season of giving, local bartenders reflected on their own holiday wish list, as well as some the best and worst gifts they’ve received at the bar.

  1.       Treats. You don’t have to wait for the holidays to bring in treats, but these are particularly appreciated this time of year. Boxes of cookies, candy and candy canes, or doughnuts for those morning shift folks. No one ever said bartenders have the healthiest diets. Most try, but in a pinch when you have 30 seconds to breathe, something quick to chew is appreciated. Or, perhaps something nice for after hours. And if you’re treating your night shift bartenders, something nice means pizza. “A last call pizza delivery that was already paid for would put someone on the nice list for a while,” according to Joe of the Compass Tavern.
  2.     Coffee. Specifically,”a barista to make coffee every morning,” is on the wish list for Veronica R. at Bocado. Morning, noon, and night, bartenders are happy to accept a fresh coffee or other caffeine boost. Conveniently, we know a few places that sell delicious treats with their coffees. It’s basically one-stop shopping for your favorite bartender.
  3.       Black shirts. An endless supply, to be exact. Uniform shirts, if that applies, fall under this category. Black shirts have the same mystique as the one sock that never makes it out of the dryer. We can always use more of these.
  4.       Floor Mats. Last year one bartending team set-up a jar behind the bar to save loose change from every shift to buy their own floor mats. Not the first thing you’d think of on our wish list until you’ve worked eight hours standing on a concrete floor. It ages your body about 10 years per hour. Santa must have felt bad for their souls because the mats were delivered before the jar was full. (Thanks, Santa!)
  5.       Sneakers and/or inserts. Right up there with floor mats, this is a gift that keeps on giving. Whether a bartender can afford new footwear or not, it makes us cringe to spend money on high-quality sneakers when we know what they are going to look like in a week. So, if you’re feeing generous, the way to your beloved bartender’s heart is through the soles of their feet.
  6.       A winning Keno ticket. Often customers will leave behind their Keno ticket for the bartenders, assuming the winnings aren’t much. Most of the time they are right, and it is only one or two dollars, if anything at all. It would make everyone break out in carols if this week/weekend one of those tickets was a big winner.
  7.       “The day off,” said Murph, a bartender at two area bars he chose not to name. Murph is specifically talking about Christmas Eve and Day; he’d be happy with either. Many bars will be open for all or part of Christmas Eve and/or Day. Nature of the business. Employees without kids tend to take on this shift to relieve co-workers with larger family obligations. Some employees just do not have a choice at all. This one seems like another one for Santa/ownership.

If you are looking for a place to unwind this weekend, the following bars confirmed they will be open:

Quinn’s Irish Pub: Open until 6:00pm on Christmas Eve, and at 6:00pm on Christmas Day.

Funky Murphy’s Worcester: Open regular hours on Christmas Eve, and at 6:00pm at Christmas Day.

Red Lantern: Regular business hours both days.

Bennie’s: Open until 6:00pm on Christmas Eve, and at 5:00pm on Christmas Day.

Smitty’s: Open from 11:00am until 6:00pm on Christmas Eve, and closed on Christmas Day.

Galway Bay Pub: Open until 6 PM on Christmas Eve, Opens at 6 PM on Christmas Day

Breen’s: Open until 6 PM on Christmas Eve, Closed on Christmas Day

Banner Bar & Grille: Open Christmas Eve 11 AM to 5 PM, Christmas Day 6 PM to Midnight

Loft 266: Open for the Patriots game on Christmas Eve.

Moynagh’s Tavern: Open Until 7 on Christmas Eve, Open at 6 PM on Christmas Day

Kenichi and Sake Bomb: Regular Business hours both days.

We are smack dab in the middle of holiday party season. Calendars are filled with parties, Yankee swaps, cookie exchanges – the list goes on and on. Friends and family find any excuse to host a get-together this time of year.

Of course, no holiday season is complete without the work holiday party. Some employers keep these in the office, but far more move to host in their home or at a bar or restaurant. Over the years I have bartended many holiday parties, and I have seen some horrifying moments, as well as some heartwarming ones. The spouses who quietly sip their drink while they listen to chatter about a specific work issue that they know nothing about. The shy or new co-worker who successfully branches out. The overly eager co-worker who orders far too many shots and ends up calling out of work for a week.

 

Whether it is for your spouse’s employer or your own, there are a few key pointers to keep in mind on your way to your next work holiday party.

  1.       Dress the part. While it is often called out on the invitation, you’d be surprised at how many people show up under dressed. If you aren’t sure, ask a co-worker. Sometimes you can laugh off the ugly sweater with the flashing lights in a sea of suits, but it’s not always a risk you want to take.
  2.       Introduce your guest. It’s basic manners, really. Beyond a simple name, include some other detail about them as a way of opening up the conversation. What they do for work is an easy one. It’s a win for everyone. The guest doesn’t stand there silently, and you get a break from office talk – or hearing about the same story you already heard in the break room four times that week.
  3.       Come prepared. Don’t expect that it is open bar if it is at a bar or restaurant. Many managers and business owners don’t want to take on that cost or risk of opening up the bar to the whole company. Always be ready to open your wallet just in case you are responsible for your own tab. Similarly, eat beforehand, especially if it isn’t explicitly promoted as a dinner party. Appetizers may not be enough to get you through the night, especially if you’re planning on drinking.
  4.       Shots anyone? The minute someone starts asking if anyone wants to do shots I know the night is going to be interesting. Shots are not necessarily appropriate for every type of party. Weddings and office holiday parties are a gray area. In general, I would advise against shots in this setting. If the boss or management team is suggesting it, it’s fair game. If you are low on the totem pole, save the shots for when you’re out with your friends. Of course, if you happen to see a holiday party for bar or restaurant staff, this rule is completely out the window. I’ll admit that without any hesitation.
  5.       Mocktails are your friend. As is water. Take a break from the toasts and sip on a water. Pace yourself. If you don’t want to drink, and don’t want people to know you’re not drinking, just tell your bartender. We are happy to serve you mocktails all night. We keep a lot of secrets for our customers, so a wine spritzer hold the wine won’t be a problem.  
  6.       Don’t bully the boss. It’s a nice gesture to buy someone a drink (if they aren’t already footing the bill). Buying for your boss is another gray area. Most bosses anticipate that at one point or another someone may ask them if they want a drink. If they decline, just take “no” for an answer and move on. Do not push the issue.
  7.       Be a good sport, Santa. Yankee swap, secret Santa, what have you. If the party includes any type of gift exchange, know your audience and be a gracious participant. You haven’t experienced a teacher’s wrath until you’ve stolen their Dunkin’ Donuts gift card in a Yankee Swap, leaving them with a box of pencil erasers. I will never forget that one. A neutral gift is better than a risk at a laugh if you’re unsure of the tone of gift exchanges. Personally, I like a funny gift as much as anyone. The record-scratching silence when the conservative co-worker opens your roll of Trump-print toilet paper can be piercing.   
  8.       You will have to see these people again when you are all sober. At one point or another, alcohol turns (almost) everyone into a social butterfly at these parties. It’s great to see a budding friendship with the manager from the department you want to get into, or the attractive new employee you’ve been staring at in meetings. It is cringe-worthy to witness you cross the line between “let’s get lunch next week!” and “let’s get HR invited to that meeting on Monday.” Before you divulge your darkest secrets to the co-worker whose last name is a little foggy, take a sip of water, get a plate of crackers, and breathe it out. That’s usually a good time to consider saying your good-byes for the night.

December is a particularly exciting month for alcohol-enthusiasts. It has nothing to do with the copious varieties of eggnog you can now find at supermarkets to mix yourself a seasonal cocktail.

In Dec. 1933, the final state voted to ratify the 21st Amendment, thereby ending Prohibition. It was the 18th Amendment, set forth in January 1919, that banned liquor production and sales. What some argue started as a wartime effort to reserve grain for seemingly more important purposes, like producing food, evolved into an iconic era that we continue to idolize today by way of film and literature, music, fashion and, of course, spirits.

Gin Rickey

In addition to the obvious historical and cultural significance, it is important to note that this was the first constitutional amendment to ever be repealed. That’s just how important liquor is in America. Interpret that as you wish.

While not every state immediately embraced liquor sales and production, most Americans rejoiced. Notably, many Americans found a way around the dry and dreary days of Prohibition. For nearly 14 years, speakeasies and bootleggers worked (read: schemed) to bring spirits to neighborhoods. Their hard work and dedication to their craft was not soon forgotten.

Prohibition-style cocktails are quite popular today. In fact, Worcester is home to a few great establishments that do a great job honoring this style with refined craftsmanship. Most notably, Still & Stir Cocktail Bar, The Muse, and Nick’s Bar & Restaurant, where the drinks are not the only nod to the era.  

Looking to honor history this month? Here are a few classic prohibition cocktails to try this weekend. You’ll notice the mixtures are heavy on citrus and sugar, which were essential, not only for flavor, but for disguising the smell and taste of some of the “bathtub” alcohol commonly supplied at the time.

Sidecar

Sidecar: A classic martini that is comprised of two parts cognac, one part Cointreau, and one part lemon juice. Shaken and strained into a chilled cocktail glass, garnished with a lemon wedge.

Gin Rickey: Simple to make and easy to sip. Gin and lime juice are mixed in a Collins glass, and topped off with club soda.

French 75: Albeit there is much debate around the exact creation of this one, everyone can agree that a little bubbly goes a long way here. Mix gin, lemon juice, and a pinch or two of simple syrup separately before straining into a champagne flute and topping with champagne.

Ward Eight: Rooted in a bit of Boston history, this is another cocktail that has sparked heated discussion about the exact date and location it was created. Regardless, it gained popularity during the era at hand, so here we go. Two parts rye whiskey and the always-scientific “drops” of lemon juice, orange juice, and grenadine come together with a dash of bitters to please the pallet. Most commonly served in a chilled martini glass.

Southside

Southside: A nod to Chicago’s South Side gangsters, or a Long Island Country Club? It all tastes the same. Gin, muddled mint, lime juice, and simple syrup create a refreshing and strong cocktail you enjoy all year long. Often club soda is added to make this strong drink a little easier to sip on.

  Sazerac: Absinthe, at long last. If you were in a pinch for alcohol, I can only imagine would make the tough times better. Rye whiskey or cognac serves as the base. Mixed with a sugar cube, bitters, and, of course, absinthe and served straight up in a rocks glass, garnished with a lemon peel.

  Bee’s Knees: This may shock folks given the name, but this one includes honey. If you’re imagining a thick layer of honey at the bottom of your glass, you are not alone. First honey is stirred into warm water to create a drink-friendly syrup. Mix your preferred gin with equal parts lemon juice and honey simple syrup. It lives up to its name, which, at the time, simply meant “the best”.

 Mary Pickford: Named after an American actress who brought this recipe back from her trip to Cuba, where, ironically, it was allegedly concocted by an American bartender. Full circle? Regardless, it’s a delightful rum drink. Two parts white rum and two parts pineapple juice set-up this sweet drink. Shaken with grenadine and Maraschino liqueur, and strained over ice in a cocktail glass. For good measure, garnish with a cherry.  

Of course, we cannot overlook a few of Worcester’s oldest bars which opened their doors very soon after the 21st amendment was established. Moynagh’s Tavern, Moynihan’s Pub and The Cosmopolitan Club are among the city’s oldest, despite some debate around exact dates. These bars remain local favorites to this day. Perhaps you can celebrate this historical anniversary at one of these long-standing bars with a drink from this list. Or just a Bud Light. Whatever tickles your fancy.

The day has arrived. The busiest drinking night of the year.

On behalf of bartenders everywhere, I’m taking this opportunity to thank the patrons who will make this night bearable, and to apologize to anyone who will undoubtedly see some staff at their worst. This shift will be the longest shift of the year, regardless of how many hours are actually logged. It might also be the most lucrative. If you have never worked this night, or even seen it from the other side of the bar, you could argue that it balances itself out. That is entirely subjective, and dependent on so many variables that I won’t even dare to address.

Your bar staff is going to have their patience tested like no other. They are going to put in more steps than any FitBit could track. They will lose track of how long it has been since they ate or drank, let alone took a bathroom break. Even the best of the best might get snippy or short-tempered. We don’t want to snap at anyone. We don’t want to have to cut you off (this might be a lie for some). And we definitely do not want to make a mistake. But, at some point or another, one of these things will happen. We are human. We apologize to the innocent bystanders.

There will be not-so-innocent bystanders, though. There’s always one. Always.

How do you stay out of the line of fire this Thanksgiving Eve?

How can you enjoy your Thanksgiving Eve with minimal regret, tears, and conflict?

It’s quite simple, really.

  1.      Start a tab.

More than any other night, starting a tab is the best way to get faster service. It is much easier to tell your bartender your last name and have them ring in your order than to wait around for individual credit card transactions for every jager bomb, or watch them break open rolls of quarters. This doesn’t just make our job easier; it actually lets us serve you faster. Win-win situation.

  1.      Order your round in one breath.

Staff are moving fast (even faster if more people abide by the first tip on this list). The minute you turn around to deliberate on what everyone may or may not want to drink, you’re starting to lose our attention. Again, moreso on this night than any other. You’ve lost eye contact. While you are having a deep conversation about draft or bottle, we are scanning again. Looking at who is ready. I have seen bartenders move on to the next customer on a night like this. Whether or not I agree with that, I can certainly understand.

  1.      Treat the bar staff like humans.

We know that you are getting impatient, too. We know that you, and the person next to you, have been waiting. We are trying to get to all of you as fast as we can. Do not slam the bar. Do not whistle at us. Don’t catcall or assign us other pet names. We aren’t your baby, pumpkin, or cutie. Extend the same basic respect to the other bar staff, from security and bar backs, to the food runners and waitresses. In fact, extend the same respect to everyone so you can focus on enjoying your night.

  1.      Get there early to get a seat.

This has nothing to do with the bartenders, and is purely for the newcomers. This isn’t a night that you should spend hours at home pre-gaming and adding to your SnapChat story. Seats fill up fast. Being elbow-to-elbow with everyone in the room isn’t fun. Bars will strictly abide by occupancy limits. It is for the safety of the patrons, and for the business. Officials will be making their rounds, strictly enforcing code. Let’s know forget that last year at least seven bars were shut down in the middle of the Thanksgiving Eve rush because they were over-capacity, or violating other rules.

  1.      Leave before last call.

Rest assured you are not missing anything that impressive at or after last call. You are saving yourself a headache and the risk of making (more) mistakes. Beat the rush. Not just the rush to get that last drop of Tito’s, the rush for the pizza place orders. Get those jalapeno poppers while they are good, and while the deliveries take under 30 minutes.

  1.      Close your tab.

Don’t be that guy doing the walk of shame on Thanksgiving morning or night to pick up your tab because you couldn’t hang on Thanksgiving Eve. Starting a tab isn’t like opening a layaway account. Leaving your tab behind is not excusable for not tipping your servers, either.

  1.      DO NOT DRIVE.

This should go without saying, but just in case you are on the fence, here are a few convincing arguments.

 If you don’t have money to pay for Uber, or Lyft, or Yellow Cab, or a bus, then you probably shouldn’t be out racking up a tab at your local watering hole. And you definitely do not have money to pay for legal fees, fines, a new license, an expensive insurance premium, medical bills, a new car or car repairs.

 Are you one of the “I’ll just leave my car at the bar and get a ride home” types? While this is definitely better than driving home, a few questions. Why worry about someone else damaging it? Or have to get up even earlier Thursday to get a ride back to pick your car up somewhere? And in all too many cases, people start the night off saying they will leave their car overnight, and then swear they aren’t “that drunk” at the end of the night and talk themselves out of leaving their car. Don’t even give yourself the option of driving and leave your car at home

Parking is going to be a nightmare. Save yourself the hassle.

The tow trucks will be out in full force. Nights like this fund their Christmas bonus funds.

Be safe out there. Be kind. Oh, and don’t forget about that holiday spirit stuff, too. On behalf of your bar staff, we appreciate you, we appreciate the tips, and we especially appreciate that first sip of cheer when we get to move to the other side of the bar.

Whether you’re hosting or not, hungover or just plain hungry, you may need to kickstart your Thanksgiving festivities before the turkey is ready. The morning of Thanksgiving is increasingly popular in Worcester. Many friends and family have started traditions centered around a morning rally at a local bar.

For most, it is a toss-up between two Worcester favorites: Parkway Diner and Banner Bar & Grille. For others it is simply a matter of which one to stop by first. As the demand for a morning pitstop has increased over the years, a few more businesses are trying to stake a claim in the Thanksgiving morning hustle and bustle.

The Banner Bar & Grille

Outside, runners will be lining up waiting for the annual Thanksgiving Day Fun Run 5K to start. Inside, the equally as ambitious, cardio-averse crowd will be warming up over cocktails and a simple breakfast of champions. Breakfast sandwiches and homefries never disappoint, but at a mere five dollars per plate there’s no room for complaints. The Banner will open its doors bright and early at 7:30am, and sends you on your way around 1:00pm. Things get cozy after the race ends and the runners join in on the fun, so I recommend getting a seat early. Shane, Colleen, and Elizabeth will be there all morning eagerly awaiting countless orders of breakfast shots and mimosas.

The Parkway Diner

There’s no denying that a breakfast at the Parkway will set your whole day on the right path, but have you tried their fall cocktail specials? Thanksgiving Day is your chance. Brian and John will open the doors to their family-owned Shrewsbury Street staple from 8:00am on Thanksgiving morning. Sip on a Drunken Pumpkin Latte or Apple Cider Mimosa while you wait for your food, and finish off with a Pumpkin Pie Mudslide. Familiar faces Aleah and Alicia will also be there to assure you that a liquid dessert before the turkey carving is perfectly acceptable. Be advised that while they are open until 1:00pm, the kitchen will be closing at 12:00pm.

The Cosmopolitan

The hidden gem of Grafton Hill has hosted Thanksgiving morning for nearly a decade. I may become the neighborhood enemy for sharing this tradition, but I’m just spreading holiday cheer. The doors open at 8:00am. Before you’re kindly sent back out into the daylight, enjoy a complimentary sausage sandwich with your Bloody Mary. Mark, one of the co-founders of the Cos’ neighborhood tradition, will be there to serve you until kickoff of the Lions/Vikings game around 12:30pm. If you get comfortable, you can head back for round two after dinner.

Quinn’s Irish Pub

With a strong year under their belt, Tim Quinn and his staff know exactly what the people want: free food and friendly faces. Quinn’s will open from 8:00am until 1:00pm on Thanksgiving Day, and re-open at 6:00pm. From 9:00am until 11:00am they are offering a free breakfast buffet. If you haven’t sampled the Quinn’s Sunday brunch buffet yet, this is your time to do so. Karen and Jackie will be leading the charge all morning, making sure you have everything you need to start your holiday off on the right foot.

Bartenders and servers are opening the doors bright and early to welcome in those seeking a little extra holiday cheer, or, in many cases, a little hair of the dog. Some may have just survived a night behind the bar on one of the busiest drinking nights of the year, and others are taking time away from their own holiday prep to host you. Be kind. Tip well. Don’t sing Christmas carols.

I’ve lost count of how many times I have cursed a rapper—or in some cases, a “rapper”—for creating such excessive hype around a drink order. The once-beloved Sean “Diddy” Combs is usually a culprit. First, it was Ciroc. “Ciroc & Barack” haunted me for a few years.

A few years ago, he had rosé overflowing at one of his infamous White Parties in The Hamptons. Suddenly, “Yes Way Rosé” t-shirts were haunting social media newsfeeds, and customers swapped out their mimosas for a bottle of rosé. Okay, that’s a leap. Of course, Diddy isn’t the mastermind behind this. I just can’t ignore the fact that he has a constant connection with annoying trends.

There were popular social media accounts starting to generate buzz around the new wine fad in 2013, maybe even earlier. Rosé is, by no means, a new wine to hit the market. In fact, it is actually one of the oldest wine varieties in the market. It was highly overlooked for decades because it was perceived to be low quality. Similar to white zinfandel, it was the wine people were embarrassed to order.

What is the allure?

Is it simply because of the color? Is it appealing because (until recently) it isn’t available on every drink menu? Does one glass per day cure millennials’ RBF plague?

Affordability is key. Demand is the only driving up costs of even a cheap bottle of rosé. Even by the bottle it isn’t going to break the bank.

For a few years, celebrities were often photographed sipping a pink sparkling wine, which most certainly contributed to the growing buzz. Rosé was therefore perceived as a luxury. Somewhat of a status symbol. Ironically, it was one thought of as the poor man’s wine.

The rise of rosé is primarily the result of brilliant marketing efforts by social influencers and wine brands alike. Kudos to them for seeing this trend brewing and capitalizing on it. Investors and self-proclaimed “basics” applaud these business-savvy, in-with-the-in-crowd players. A rosé market was created to nurture this trend, continuing its growth year after year.

Graphic t-shirts and tanks with a silk-screened “Rosé All Day”, and “Slay, Then Rosé”, fly off shelves. It really gives little hope for orange to have its day in the sun.

Brands have been born solely to capitalize on this market before it fizzles out. White Girl Wine, for examples, rose to fame with the launch of “White Girl Rosé”. In reality, though, the founders were social media famous long before the wine label was printed.  Founders Josh Ostrovsky and David Oliver Cohen may be better recognized as the brains behind Instagram favorites @thefatjewish and @babewalker (Twitter: @whitegrlproblem). They already claimed an impressive stake on the social media red carpet.

Rosé aficionados will tell you that their drink of choice is “summer water”. So now that you are greeted with a layer of frost on your windshield, do these fangirls (and boys) go into hibernation? Love knows no season. Best efforts are being made to keep this drink choice on wine menus yearlong. If I had to venture a guess, though, I’m willing to bet that this audience is just as easily pacified with pumpkin spice anything.

Football and bartending have one thing in common: no days off.

Bars and restaurants are not only open on holidays, but some of these days they are ringing their best sales of the year. On others, it could be crickets. If you apply to work in this industry you have to accept that at one point or another, you’re going to be scheduled to work on a holiday.

Now that the Christmas music is on, and holiday décor is popping up, it’s time for bartenders to start considering which holidays to volunteer for, and which ones to avoid at all costs.

Summer Nights

Every holiday has its pros and cons, except for the summer holidays, like Fourth of July and Labor Day. Those are almost always the slowest holidays to work at a bar in Worcester. “It’s basically like sitting through detention,” according to Greg, a bartender at multiple bars in the city including Breen’s Café and Galway Bay Irish Pub. “Labor Day and Fourth of July are, by far, the two worst holidays to work.”

Anyone in Worcester wants to get out of Worcester and head straight to Cape Cod, or any other beach right away on Fridays in the summer. People sticking around find a friend with a pool, or head to Lake Chaubunagungamaug. On a holiday in the summer the only difference is the obligatory cookout appearance. No one wants to be inside.

“[Fourth of July] Might be the worst holiday to bartend. It’s a cookout day. If it isn’t raining, people want to be outside, and you are inside, missing fireworks, not having fun or making money,” agreed Katie M. of Quinn’s Irish Pub.

If you are scheduled for one of these summer holidays, start practicing your rain dance because that’s your only hope.

Personally, I dread Halloween weekend the most. People tend to think that having mouse ears or face paint on allows them to be their most rude and obnoxious version of themselves. Let’s just clear this up right now: you’re either a Power Ranger or a jerk; a Disney Princess or an imbecile. You don’t get to be both. Everyone is on an adult pixie stick high and the costumes get sloppier as the night goes on.

When Irish Eyes Go Drinking

The most dreaded holiday in Worcester county is a toss-up between Parade Day and the actual holiday, St. Patrick’s Day.

“Everyone starts drinking before the bars are even open, and generally are bordering blackout drunk before they get to any establishment,” said Alicia L., bartender and server at Parkway Diner. After many years working behind the bar on Park Avenue for both the parade and St. Patrick’s Day, she has more than a handful of horror stories to tell.

Alicia said, “They forget what they want to order, and basic motor skills are hardly functioning at this point so forget a ‘please’ and ‘thank you!’”

It’s true. The people of Worcester celebrate this two-part holiday unlike any other single day of the year. You can make it a lucrative shift, without question, but it calls for a superior level of patience, and twice as much cleaning up as any other shift.

“So busy it will take an entire 15 minutes to get from one table to the kitchen. And cleaning glasses with curdled Bailey’s is the worst part of the night,” said Katie M.

These days do have their perks.

“Part of you wants to throw all the drunks out, but the other part of you wants to grab the popcorn and watch the show,” Greg said with a laugh.

It’s true. Even the worst holidays behind the bar make for interesting stories to tell later.

Holiday Cheer

Christmas (day or night shift) is surprisingly a favorite among bartenders. Naturally, the majority of people would prefer to be at home with family and friends, but if you have to work a holiday, Christmas is a good one.

For many customers, they either don’t celebrate Christmas, or don’t have a family to celebrate with. They genuinely appreciate your business being open, and having a bartender who may be taking time away from their own family to give them a place to go. For those reasons, people are not only generous, but they are the nicest to be around.

“Despite whatever is going on in their life, people tend to put that aside and treat you like the human being you are, and not a peasant like many people treat us other nights,” Alicia said.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are popular mornings and nights for many bars in Worcester. For some it is the hair of the dog after a rough Thanksgiving Eve, or it’s that liquid courage to get them through the day with family. Others have made it a tradition among friends to get together before or after the family obligations are done. There is money to be made serving holiday cheer on these days.

Of course, Thanksgiving Eve cannot be overlooked on this list. It is understood that this night is going to get out of hand. It is going to try every ounce of patience any bartender has. As Katie puts it, “you know you are going to make incredible money, but also know you’ll be dealing with the drunkest of the drunk.”

Thanksgiving Eve is the best example of working hard for the money. At the end of the night you are exhausted and you just want silence. And probably a pizza and a beer. But by 8:00am the next day, many of us have found our way to the other side of the bar and are ready to kick off the actual holiday with a smile on our face, and a large coffee with a shot of Bailey’s.

Holiday Brunch

Springtime holidays such as Easter and Mother’s Day are great shifts to work if your bar or restaurant offers brunch. These holidays have become increasingly popular to let someone else prepare the meal, especially for families without small children. The mornings start of a bit chaotic, but your day generally tapers off early in the afternoon making it a short day with a good tip-out. For the most part, everyone is on their best behavior, and you spend the day popping champagne bottles for mimosas and shaking up countless rounds of Bloody Mary mix.

If you find you have your choice of holiday shifts at your bar, choose wisely. For every busy holiday, there is another painfully slow one. At one point or another you’re going to have to experience them all for yourself.

Tomorrow, October 27, is National American Beer Day. Not National Beer Day, but National American Beer Day. That’s right, you can’t have just one beer holiday. With so many options to choose from, and in today’s hypersensitive culture, every beer gets its day.

We are dedicating today to the great beer brands and styles brewed in America—from the basics of Budweiser and Coors, to the craft beer brands, like Wormtown and Alchemist. There are enough options to keep you celebrating all day long.

American style beers include: American IPA, American pale ale, Double/Imperial IPA, Cream ale, American amber ale, American brown ale, golden/blonde ale, American stout, Pennsylvania porter, and steam beer/California common. Of course, there is discussion and debate around everything these days, so some people can argue this list. The point is that there are a lot of options to choose from when honoring this beer holiday.

On the subject of options, gone are the days where it was simply a matter of Budweiser, Miller Lite, or Coors at your local bar or retailer. In fact, customers are no longer satisfied with just a few draft options at all. People are looking for bars and restaurants with an extensive draft list.

“Do you have any IPAs?” is the first question most servers are asked when they present a beer list. That question is usually followed by, “Do you have any [XYZ] craft brand on tap?”

Craft beers have been a rising phenomenon for well over a decade, so we can’t call it a trend. It is established. It has clout. It isn’t slowing down. Everyone has embraced it. It’s taking over the draft lines.

So when did this micro-movement start?

According to the Brewers Association, it was a stop and go trend that started in the 1980s. After staggered momentum through the 1990s, it wasn’t until after 2003 that this trend picked up enough steam to propel into mainstream culture. Now here we are, in good ol’ Worcester, the Heart of the Commonwealth, reading about a new local brewery setting up shop every month or so.

Tree House Brewing Company most recently took over as Worcester County’s favorite fall outing. People are flocking to Charlton to wait in line for hours to sample one of the over 30 beers Tree House has in its rotation. Heavy on IPAs, Tree House experiments with flavor, allowing them to create a wide variety within this category alone. They do a great job of keeping their website update with what it is available each day so customers can plan trips accordingly. It’s a limited stock, first come, first serve scenario.

There is a reason to intentionally hang out on Cambridge Street these days: 3cross Brewing Company. 3cross opened their doors to beer drinkers and bike riders alike, and it is a great union. Currently they have eight beers on draft to sample, offering multiple IPA options, as well as Kombucha and homemade sodas for those taking a break from beer. If you can’t make it down to celebrate this great holiday, look for them on draft or in stores at select local spots, including Austin Liquors, The Boynton, and BirchTree.

Take a drive out to Wachusett Brewing Company in Westminster and embrace their New England, particularly Boston, pride. Bella Czech Pils, Wachusett Wally, Wicked Hoppy, and Brewin’ are just a few of their great nods to the locals. Go beyond a Blueberry with any of their seasonal offerings and you won’t be disappointed. In warmer weather it is a great spot to hang out, play cornhole, order from their airstream food trucks, and just soak up that crisp New England air.

Of course no local list is complete without Wormtown Brewery. More than a dozen beers in their rotation and a prime Shrewsbury Street location make for a good day at the brewery. Their recent collaboration with Table Talk Pies had the pumpkin aficionados in a frenzy. Plenty of options to keep you entertained for hours, all made with local ingredients for added hometown authenticity.

Lord Hobo Brewing Company in Woburn isn’t quite Worcester-local, but it’s close enough that you can make a trip without losing a whole day of apple picking, or football, or just napping. They offer five of their own beers on draft, ranging from 4.5% to 9.5% ABV, and usually have at least two other breweries that they are proud to share a draft line with. If you don’t enjoy a quality IPA, then skip this trip. IF you are up to trying something new, check out their food truck calendar to plan your appetite accordingly. Spoiler alert: today Boston Burger Company is onsite.

Also worth mentioning, Rapscallion and Jack’s Abby are a short drive from Worcester and have quite a few notable brews to try, or try again.

Even if you can’t make a night of it, honor this great holiday and fine American craftsmanship from the comfort of your own home, or couch. Look for an American beer at your local package store. Jackalope Brewing Company (TN) is a new favorite of mine, and, to my delight, can be found at a few of the local stores in Worcester.

Or postpone it for a weekend trip. Bissell Brothers and Alchemist can be done in a day (with a designated driver of course), but if you can, stay the night and drink with the locals in another city.

Celebrate safely, folks.

In the service industry, just as in sports, wins and losses are shared by the whole team. The wins and losses in our industry are translated in our tips.

While each business has their own way of breaking down who gets what cut, almost every bar or restaurant in the country has guidelines in place for who gets what percent of the tips at the end of a shift. Servers are generally the only position in the restaurant who keep their own tips, but even they are required to tip out the service bar, food runners, and other support as needed. At most bars, the bartenders pool their tips. How they divvy that up at the end of the night varies from place to place.

Bartenders start shifts at different times during the night, and each have their own strengths and weaknesses. While you, the customer, were having a wonderful conversation with your bartender, and enjoying their personalized cocktails, their counterpart may have been cleaning, stocking, or handling an issue in the kitchen. They were picking up the other work that must get done so that you could get the attention you deserve.

When a customer slides money across the bar and asks, “Can you just put this in your pocket just for you?”, it is a huge compliment, undoubtedly. Even if you assure us that you will include a normal tip for the pool as well, we can’t just pocket the money for ourselves.

There are times when we all wish this weren’t true, and unfortunately those aren’t necessarily because of great teamwork. These are the days when one person is not pulling their weight at all and it is painfully noticeable to the customers. I am sure I am not the only one who has been in the uncomfortable position of having to address this with a customer. It is such a relief that customers want to honor hard work instead of focus on the weak link, alas, we still cannot pocket the money.

So, what do you do as a customer wanting to reward great service? Well, there are a few options.

First, you can still leave that tip. Yes, it will get split amongst the rest of the team, but ultimately it is increasing our take-home. And, in the last scenario, it is making up for teammate who may be bringing down our bottom line.

As cliché as it may seem, a good review goes a long way. If you had a great experience, let the world know. In a world of “Can I speak to the manager?”, be the “Everyone, go visit this person at this place!” Bar and restaurant owners and managers refer to their reviews regularly when it is time to make decisions, including scheduling and promotions.

Although promotions aren’t something you see happening regularly in this industry, they do happen. Getting weekly or monthly notifications about reviews that mention the same person are a catalyst for change. If Suzy Sunshine is constantly receiving rave reviews for her well-crafted cocktails, it’s time for Suzy to take over the dinner rush. If John Doe continues to get complaints that customers see too much of the back of his head during a game then he probably shouldn’t be working the Sunday shift during football season.  

If nothing else, let us know that you had a great experience and come back. Regulars are the best thing to happen to a bartender—and a business owner—who wants to last long in this industry.