Monday, June 15, 2009

"I Open Sometimes..!"

I think I may have been a little bit vague (again) with my last blog...Which basically means that I've had time to sober up and think about things in a little more detail...I'm not apologizing, just setting the record straight...

My inspiration for the bar I will one day create, is pretty much based on a place I saw a few years ago, when I was in Venice. 

It was a "Speak-easy" type place that belonged to an old Venetian Bartender, who had worked in various places all over the world, including Harry's for a while.

...His concept for that bar was, and still is, the most impressive I have ever seen to date.

It was a tiny place, deep into the back-streets of the Jewish Quarter, not the kind of place you just stumble upon...It was a small room, with no windows and low-lighting containing a bar, two barstools and a small table. On the door was a simple sign saying;

"I Open Sometimes!" 

It gets better..! If he was there, you would knock gently on the door, he would let you in and immediately 
tell you where to sit! Once you were forcibly comfortable, you would glance at the back-bar only to realise that all the spirits were in clear glass bottles! 
Only the Owner/Bartender knew which one was which! He was of the belief that eyes are wasted in a bar. If you want pretty drinks then go to Hawaii!...He would say, "You just need your hands, ears, nose and tongue...Leave everything else at home! It's a tad eccentric but it kind-of makes sense!
Next there was the menu,

or not...

There was no menu, the Bartender would simply ask you a series of questions and make you a drink based on his knowledge/experience...and it worked! I can say, as a bartender, that it's great to have somebody tell you: 

"I don't take requests, but don't worry, I'll make you something good!"

If you were to ask him for a Silver Fizz, he might base his drink on Gin. Or he might just make you something completely different, to show you that although you asked for something Gin based, you would actually enjoy a rum, or a whisky cocktail just the same! If you didn't like the system, then you didn't go...Simple!

It was a beautiful formula. He picked his clients, he picked the drinks and he ultimately did what every Bartender (or maybe just me) likes to fantasize about...He showed people that they are Guests and never Clients...It was all about being professionally confident and keeping control, never the money...If he told someone it was good, then it was, if you didn't like it, then he wouldn't charge you...

A "Catch .22-Placebo" if you like?

He went against the grain of hospitality...But, I never could figure out whether it was obnoxious and intrusive, or if he was simply taking it to the next level? I mean, how many of your customers really know what they want? 

So, basically, this is the concept I would go for...and I wouldn't expect to please everybody, that goes without saying, but it doesn't bother me that much...If you walk away saying the drinks were great, but the Bartender's an ass, then I've done my job!

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