Friday, 2 March 2012

Is it an age thing?


   regrettably this is not actually a new post. I did one on Wednesday about the differing styles of barkeeping and customer service across different age groups. I have however, now deleted that post, since I got bored of tweaking it, and also, because of a regrettable surfeit of sense in it. Now I will attempt, not necessarily successfully, to broach the subject again.

Contrasting styles behind the bar

Recent experiences drinking in pubs has highlighted a mixture of different approaches to the job, calling or art ,of working behind a bar and serving customers. Allow me to provide you with three different experiences in 2012, to help demonstrate how the little touches that make a visit to a drinking venue special, are handled or approached  by younger and older bar staff alike.

Pub  1. I am in a traditional boozer in a small village, the barman is in his 60 's and chats to me at length (no-one else is at the bar mind) about beer and pubs and drinking. He is not inconveniently slow, but its a good 5 minutes before I am finished being served. Mind you, his calm sensible pace allows him to note that the beer is under measure, and top me up before I head back to the table with my beer. So really he has saved me time by taking time. I feel  "served", and welcome. And happy

Pub 2: I am in a city centre haunt. Chala has asked for a cognac, (don't worry, its firmly real ale for me every time in this pub) and the barman, in his early twenties, shows Chala the bottles on the dark bar back - she hasn't got her glasses so asks him for his advice on whats available, and which is best. He says there are two options (one Chala doesn't like) so she picks the other, but the barman doesn't really seem to know anything about it. Alas its also not really very nice.

I return to the bar to query the drinks odd flavour (dry and bitter, no rounded warming flavours at all), I end up talking to the manager since the original member of staff is short on cognac expertise. The manager is not much older, but seems to know his stuff. He tells me I have been charged twice, and suggests having the same drink again without any ice*. I would prefer my money back, and on querying the options available I find there is a 3rd choice which is much nicer. I pay for this with the fiver I get back. So the outcome is satisfactory but its taken ages, 3 members of staff and negotiating skills to resolve.

Pub 3: its full of cocktail swiggers (I apologise, but there is real ale), I order a pint, and advise the barman, who is about my age, that Chala is deciding what cocktail to order. I want to pay on card so its better that she has a cocktail. The barman acknowledges this and keeps the "tab" open. Chala meanwhile opts for a half a Staropramen, which she does like, but isn't the purchase that will enable me to pay on card. And I know this is not what she really wants. When Chala does choose and orders a cocktail, she indicates (to me) that the Staropramen is surplus to requirements. Sensing that this is a problem, to our surprise the barman kindly knocks off the expense of the lager half. Happy days! We both have a drink we want and have seen a kind hearted sensible publican acting in our best interests.

On each occasion the staff used their knowledge and experience to make sure we ended up happy. All of the experiences were good in the end, but the satisfactory outcomes were reached using three very different approaches.

So would you say that one of the three approaches used by the staff is better, and if so, what is the defining factor?

Is it an age thing?

Wee Beefy.

*its worth noting that we are both aware that ice is hardly the best accompaniment to a complex drink like cognac, but it was very warm at the bar, and anticipating that the drink would be similar in strength of flavour to a Metaxa private reserve, Chala opted for ice to take some of the bite out of the taste. I really don't want anyone thinking we put ice in everything we drink....


  1. Umm, surely your gf needs to be more decisive as to what she wants to drink.

    1. Yeah, you are probably right. Whilst compiling this damned post I noted that in fact there was an indication that our lass was a bit slow off the mark! Still we enjoyed our free half....