Written by Guest Blogger Phil Green
There was a Saturday night a few weeks ago that I came into work with a big grin on my face. This isn’t unusual for me as I enjoy my job tremendously, working on the bar in Green 19 – named Dublin’s best restaurant last year. This Saturday was going to be amazing though, I had a great team working for me on this night and we had all agreed that we’d head next door to the pub after we’d finished our shift and cleaned down and have a few social drinks together and a bit of a laugh.
Everyone was looking forward to this and we were discussing how to make the night more fun with ‘word of the night’ which involved each of us having to work a nominated word into each of our sentences when talking to customers, tonight’s word was going to be 'meow,' everyone was in great form.
Then it hit. The bookings came along, followed by ‘walk-in’ customers wanting tables which we soon ran out of and had to start our waiting list, asking people to go next door to the pub for a drink and letting them know we’d give them a call as soon as we could get them a table. The first order of cocktails came in, 9 cocktails and all different. Now, seasoned cocktail bartenders may be thinking “that doesn’t sound too bad” but I am not a seasoned cocktail bartender. I’ve made cocktails before, but only from the instructions in a book or under the instruction of my current manager at the restaurant. To add to this we have just changed our cocktail menu and I haven’t been shown how to make half the cocktails properly and just to add to all this the back bar where I create all this is smaller than my kitchen counter – not good.
This order would be the beginning of a 5 1/2 hour stream of orders where I would run out of crushed ice for the Mojitos repeatedly, have to make coffees, have the owner pop in with his girlfriend and two of her friends asking for cocktails as well (and of course they have to be bumped to the front of the queue), run out of aged rum, mint leaves, raspberries, vodka, straws, glassware, you named it and it ran out. With the restaurant being so busy the guys working on the floor didn’t have time to help me either, but there was a 3 minute reprieve in the middle where I thought maybe I had gone deaf as I couldn’t hear the printer shooting out orders at me. What did I do with these precious 3 minutes you ask? A drink of water? A quick smoke? No, I ran outside to our store room to try and replace as much of the missing stock as I could before the barrage continued.
Busy nights are not uncommon in Green 19, but this one took us all by surprise with the intensity of people, the amount of cocktails ordered and speed with which it all happened. It was a night where I would find myself doing tasks without really knowing what I was doing because my hands were working faster than my brain could keep up. When working this fast even the slightest thing can throw you off and this nearly happened when one of the girls that had an early finish that night asked me for a Sonic Fruit cocktail. I told her she would have to wait as I was about 5 cocktails behind in my orders, but 5 minutes later she appeared on the bar asking “Phil, where’s my cocktail?!” It took all my inner strength not to turn around and release all my frustration on her with a torrent of profanities, but instead I asked her as nicely as I could manage to go and sit down and wait and I’d make the drink for her as soon as I’d finished the paying customer’s orders. Really she should have known better.
But I live for these nights, the panic, the adrenaline and all the while still putting out beautiful drinks that are praised and enjoyed by people. This is what working on a cocktail bar in Dublin or anywhere is all about, it may be at the other end of the restaurant from the kitchen but I’m doing the same job, creating and balancing flavours and making sure they arrive at the table looking as good as possible. After this night I’ve even started to get the arrogance of a chef and am looking forward to the weekends on the bar and will be putting my own creations on the menu soon.
Needless to say we all headed over to the pub after this night had ended and relaxed and chatted over a few pints, but it certainly wasn’t the energetic after work drink we thought it would be. I think each of us lasted no more than 15 minutes and we all looked at each other with the same expression, time to go home and sleep. Funny thing is though as soon as I got home I was so wired from the night I couldn’t sleep, but after an hour of watching TV I finally dropped off to dream about cocktails and coffees just to wake up go back into work and do it all over again!
Read more of Phil Green at http://travelfoodphil.com