Evan Martin: youngster, bartender, Helot, will be your judge
Young Spartans had to prove themselves worthy of being Spartans. To prove themselves, they were cut as infants with their cries judged, trained in combat, ruthlessly beaten throughout their lives, and even sent out to be part of the Spartan’s serf class, the Helots. Helots were a quasi slave service class to the citizens of Sparta, exiled, young Spartans would work and have to earn their worth as Helots (with frequent beatings) before being re admitted to Spartan society. Today in a more civilized time, surely shit talking has taken the place of forced servitude and savage beatings. This is to the dismay of several chef’s and bar mangers, but it is more equitable.
Evan the Helot
Evan Martin is the 23 year old bartender in my employ, I didn’t make fun of him during his entire interview, but that was about it. Now, not a day goes by when I don’t say, “what do you mean you don’t know who Walter Mondale is?” “You’ve never been drunk off Becherovka, pffft.” “I can change a keg with one hand, what is your fucking problem.” Evan is the kid, the FNG (fucking new guy), I used to have someone working for me called kid, I started calling her, ”Chuckles,” the day I hired Evan. Evan is not a fuck up, quite the contrary, he is an over studious over achiever, who much to my displeasure calls bullshit on my occasional poor technique, or lack of effort. But as I type this right now, I find that he didn’t change the Stella keg last, no biggie, like I said it only takes one hand. He is young, and he must be hassled for it, otherwise he will not build the character a balanced person needs.
Evan the Bartender
Evan Martin is already an amazing mixologist and a growing bartender, he is very proficient in beer, spirits and mixology. The drinks he creates are truly profound, expertly crafted, beautiful and technically perfectly executed, but he uses too many ingredients and needs to get faster. Evan knows every bar opening around the nation, the handle of every cocktail blogger and the trends in mixology that my, “old dog,” attitude doesn’t care about. But back to the Helots, Evan is here for me to beat up, not you. In my bar he is my Helot, in your bar he is your paying customer and guest. Before I go any further, I want you dear reader to know that I gave great pontification on if I should name the bar that was so shitty to him. I won’t, but they know who there are and they should buck up.
Evan your Judge
Evan has had a bad experience at almost every bar I go to around town. Some of this is because his expectations are too high, some of it is because he looks like Evan. I was kind of shocked when he told me about some of his profoundly rude interactions with Seattle bartenders, the same story over and over. Evan once said, “Well, I love that place when I go with [Andrew] they are nice to me and only charge me for half my drinks.” But last week we were in Portland where Evan and I are unknown. He, his Lady and his friend walked into the bar were I was with a several other bartenders. Me? I’m 29 but I look 40, generally wear a blazer, don’t shave my face and pay with cash, I give off a, “most interesting man in the world,” vibe mixed with tipping a minimum of 30%. It is a formula that I find functional in life. Evan looks 18, clean shaven, like he just walked off the set of the sound of music, wears a button down shirt, his girlfriend though quite stylish is flanked by his buddy in a hooded sweatshirt. The host’s exact greeting I can not quote but the information he put across was as follows, “no idea when I can get you a table,” “almost at capacity, about to start turning people away. “ There was no offer of a drink, that a cocktailer is on the way, an indication of wait time, and I can’t recall the host even saying hello. He may as well have said: “Sir, if you look around, you’ll see I have no use for your money today, tah tah.” Evan brushed this off, like he is used to it, and I think he is. But I was an angry poppa bear. This for me is baseline rule one for if a bar is good or bad, can people be greeted, seated and helped in some way?
I tell Evan often, that nobody really cares how good the cocktail is, because getting drunk at home is cheap and easy. That he should be proud, and make good drinks to earn respect, not demand it. Then I make fun of him for driving a lesbian pick up truck, aka Ford Ranger. Evan is in the 99 th percentile of the informed customer and the perfect litmus test for service. Rule no 1 of business, be able to accept money for goods and services, rule 2 avoid being a dick to people that try to give you money for goods and services. Rule 3 is of course to be faster when exchanging money for goods and services, but that is a different blog post.
What benefit do any of us get from cocktail culture is ever growing even more nerdy and even more elite? Conclusion: I make fun of Evan, only me, everyone else has to be nice to him, for money.
Post Script: That joint was half empty 10 minutes later, no doubt from the same issues.