Advice for New Bartenders: Sother Teague

Sother TeagueSother Teague
Beverage Director, Amor y Amargo, New York

“Bartender, protect me from myself.”
It’s my job to show you a good time tonight, but not allow you to ruin tomorrow in the process. I want to serve you whatever you want, but within reason. If tomorrow is a terrible hangover, me or my bar is going to get the blame. This may cause you ill feelings toward me or my bar and result in your visiting less frequently.

“It’s the guest’s party, not mine.”
I stress this to my staff all the time. Of course we can join in the fun — but again, within reason. We’re here to facilitate a good time for our guests, not have one without them.

“Share every recipe with anyone who’s interested.”
I’ll jot down any recipe for a guest or fellow bartender anytime they ask. It’s a gesture of goodwill. Besides that, you can’t copyright recipes anyway. It’s in my best interest to give them away to establish provenance.

“Just because I can, doesn’t mean I should.”
This one applies to making drinks that probably shouldn’t be made and using my guests as guinea pigs. It means both the odd or overproduced combinations, but also applies to atmosphere. For example, I’ll never make a Mojito at Amor y Amargo because we don’t use sugar, juice, or shakers. I have access to all those ingredients, but it’s just not what we do. Further, I’m not one for lengthy lists of ingredients that are all housemade, etc. just for the sake of stroking my own ego. (See next rule.)

“Take the craft seriously, but not yourself.”
I want my guests to see and understand that I and my team are knowledgeable and experienced in our craft. This will make them feel more at ease and trust in us to do what we are expert at doing. However, I never want to alienate anyone and that’s why I poke fun at myself all the time: to disarm my guests.

Read more advice for bartenders from the experts.

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