[Interview] Real Talk – The Bartender Series, part 4

…Continuing our Real Talk – The Bartender Series, with part 4.

THD: All right. So another scenario. I don’t know what to order so I order something that looks good on the menu and I don’t like it at all. What do I do?


ADRIANNE : Please don’t drink it.

CHRISTIAN: Don’t drink it.

SHANE: Please do not drink it.

YANI: I would definitely say to avoid getting in that situation to always ask questions.


YANI: I don’t think there’s any too stupid of a question.

THD: Let’s say you’re–I mean, not at the bar per sé, but you’re at a restaurant or you’re at a place that the server comes up and–I’ve had tons and tons of experiences where the server doesn’t know what they’re talking about, maybe the bartender does but the server doesn’t.

YANI: Sure.

THD: So I look at the menu, I’m like, “Oh, this sounds great,” and we get it and it’s, like, not what I expected at all; I expected something blended and it was on the rocks or whatever. At what point does the bar, like, because I always say, “Well, send it back and say you don’t like it. It doesn’t come to your taste.”


SHANE: Please send it back. If you don’t know, like, that, I want to know.

YANI: Having a valid–I would say, not opinion, but having a valid point, like, this is not–this is–“Oh, it’s too pink.” is not a valid point–

CHRISTIAN: Right. Yeah.

YANI: –to send a drink back. But if you’re just like–

SHANE: “I don’t like the glass.”

YANI: –honestly–yeah, “I hate the glass.”

SHANE: “I want another one.”

CHRISTIAN: Oh, that one–

THD: You get that?

YANI: Oh, all the time.

CHRISTIAN: “Can I get that on the rocks?”

SHANE: “Can I get it in a”–

YANI: “I don’t want it in this girly glass, can I have a man”–

SHANE: “Can I get it in a”–

YANI: –“a man glass?”

SHANE: –“a man glass?”

CHRISTIAN: For sure.

SHANE: “Can I get it in a bucket?”


ADRIANNE : Ten times out of ten I go to the table and I’ll talk to the guest if they have an issue or problem or question.

SHANE: Absolutely.

CHRISTIAN: For sure. And if something just doesn’t work, but going back–questions help because if you didn’t ask any questions and–

YANI: Oh, yeah. People get more irritated, because they’re like, “Oh, you know what, I want a number five. I’ve had that before and it’s great.” “Nope, don’t want it.”


YANI: And, “That’s awful.”

SHANE: And, I think, too, it’s important, too, for bar owners and business owners to have an educated staff so that when somebody–when the girl, you know, that just turned 21 on her birthday comes in and says that she wants, you know, the cocktail that is super peaty and smoky and heavy and dark and, you know, and–but it says it has lemon and honey in it, and she’s like–

YANI: “Oh, I love”–

SHANE: –“I love lemon and honey, and I want that.” And it’s important as a bartender, I mean, I get people constantly that order Mint Juleps, you know, a 95-pound, like, Greek gal come in and go, “I’ll have a Mint Julep, please.” because they see pineapple, cherry, and mint.


SHANE: And I’m always like, “Well, just so you know, those are just garnishes. It’s made of 107 proof bourbon. It’s bourbon on the rocks.” Like, all right, “Do you like bourbon?” You have to ask those simple questions–


SHANE: –as a bartender or as an employee of a place, you know, so if someone wants–

THD: So as a–okay, I don’t like the way this tastes because it doesn’t taste well for my palate.


THD: Should I expect the bar to say, “Okay, I’ll get you something you want”–


YANI: Yes.

THD: –and not charge me for this?

YANI: Yes.


SHANE: I would never charge you.


YANI: They shouldn’t ever charge.

CHRISTIAN: I’ve made–again, going back to retaining customers. I’ve made customers regulars because–and some people won’t even ask but I can tell that they don’t like it. When it’s 25 minutes and it’s been, like–

YANI: Oh, yeah.

CHRISTIAN: –I am not going to be offended. Everything’s not for everyone, you know


THD: So what do you when a–you go to a bar that charges you for it?

ADRIANNE : You don’t return.

CHRISTIAN: Yeah,and I think at our end that’s why we do it, is because I think a lot of people will sort of sit there silently and they may pay their bill but they’re never coming back through your doors again.

YANI: Absolutely.

ADRIANNE : Yeah. It’s all about the experience, and I think–especially like I put a lot of work into what I’m doing and it’s very well-known to the servers that I love walking out on the floor. It’s kind of awkward because we’re newly introduced to the craft cocktails there and they’re like, “Wow, my bartender came to my table and they’re”–“they really want to discuss, like, what I like and how I can fix it.” I think it’s important to find something you like. I think it’s–it’s definitely why you’re out.

CHRISTIAN: And there’s–I mean, I will always do that secretly, at certain times, because for somebody to ask questions, I might, like, you know, “This tastes too much like alcohol. I can taste the alcohol and it’s”–

ADRIANNE : Nobody at ours says that.

THD: So this might seem like an easy answer but, you leave the drink then, you don’t take it back and then one of their friends drinks it. Is that fine?

YANI: Well, in that case, they would get charged for it I think.

SHANE: Totally.

YANI: Because they’re drinking it, you know.

SHANE: Totally.

YANI: And in any proper situation if you have a problem and someone came out, normally they would remove the unsatisfactory product.

THD: Exactly.

SHANE: I’ll take it and–

THD: But if you didn’t take it?

SHANE: I’ll take it and dump it.

THD: But if you didn’t take it?

SHANE: If you tell me not to take it–

THD: But if you don’t take it on your own, is it okay for my friend–

YANI: If you don’t ask for it and they leave it for you and they bring you something new, they–and you give it to someone else, they cannot charge you for it. They should not.

SHANE: And then they charge you again, no.

YANI: That’s absolutely right. But if you say, “Oh, no, she’ll just drink it.” Then we’re going to charge you.

CHRISTIAN: We’re going to charge.

YANI: Or “he’ll drink it.” Yes, that’s what I meant.

THD: Okay. So is it the responsibility of the bar staff to say that we’re going to charge you if you keep it?

YANI: I would–if they take it, then they shouldn’t be charged for it.

SHANE: I mean, that’s like–that’s like going to a restaurant and sitting down and ordering a full meal, eating the whole thing, and then going, “I didn’t like it.” You know, like, “take it off my bill.”

ADRIANNE : Even half the drink.

SHANE: “I don’t really like this” as you shovel it, like, in your mouth.

CHRISTIAN: “I didn’t like it but don’t take it away.”

SHANE: “Don’t take it away, I’m going to take it home to feed it to my dog.”

CHRISTIAN: If I’m going to take it away and you say–you’ve now said, “Keep it.”

THD: Right.

CHRISTIAN: There’s a transaction made.



The interviews in this series were conducted by VATO. The panelists include Yani M. Frye, of The Sugar House, Detroit, MI, Adrianne Martin, Beverage Director of Bigalora Royal Oak, MI and Southfield, MI, Shane Bang, of The Oakland Art Novelty Company in Ferndale, MI, and Christian Hetter, of The Berkshire Room in Chicago, IL.

In 2014, Shane was named as one of the “America’s 25 Best Bartenders” by The Daily Meal. In 2013, he was selected by Eater Detroit as the Bartender of the Year. Also, in 2013, Shane won the regional competition for the GQ Magazine / Bombay Sapphire’s Most Imaginative Bartender contest in Las Vegas, NV. For this event, GQ Magazine featured Shane in Season 1 of their America’s Bartender series. Shane is currently the President of the Greater Detroit chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild (USBG).

In 2013, Yani was the top winner of the Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge, and went on to represent the United States in the Global Cocktail contest in Trinidad.

Christian Hetter, was formerly from The Ravens Club in Ann Arbor, MI (at the time of the interview) and Balena in Chicago, IL.

Keep joining The Hungry Dudes for Real Talk – The Bartender Series on the coming Tuesdays and Fridays for parts 5 through 7.  Also, check out our Real Talk – The Chef Series, on Mondays and Thursdays.  We hope you enjoy these Series, and appreciate your feedback. As always, please don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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