In my capacity as an international bartender, I’ve been asked many times what the similarities and differences are between New Zealand bartenders and their counterparts in the USA. And it is a very good question.
The similarity is that both make drinks. The difference is that US bartenders subscribe to the theory that the customer is always right, whereas In New Zealand we’re rarely under that illusion.
For my part I believe New Zealand produces some of the best bartenders in the world. This is partly because effectively we need a license to practice, and partly because we are more uncompromising, more staunch than our colleagues in the land of the free, and can out-sarcasm any other living creature at fifty paces.
However in the spirit of fostering peaceful relations I felt we should analyse the different cultural reactions to situations so that we may learn from one another for the benefit of all. Shall we?
Customer: Asks for anything containing Peach Schnapps.
US Bartender: Prepares a drink containing Peach Schnapps.
NZ Bartender: They will fight you.
Customer: Tells you that your Daiquiri is almost as good as the one they had at TGI Fridays.
US Bartender: Makes mental note to try the Daiquiri at TGI Fridays.
NZ Bartender: Immediately begins to plot your demise.
Customer: Uses the words ‘surprise me’ when ordering drinks.
US Bartender: Digs deep for an obscure recipe from 1857.
NZ Bartender: Has already placed their penis in your drink. In case of female bartender, has already placed the bar-backs penis in your drink.
Customer: Bangs their glass on the bar-top in an attempt to attract attention.
US Bartender: Serves you at their earliest possible opportunity.
NZ Bartender: Has already slept with your girlfriend. Never called her again.
Customer: Gets rowdy and makes a scene.
US Bartender: Presents a well-reasoned argument why this behavior is unacceptable.
NZ Bartender: Slaps you around the face with a leather glove and calls you a bounder and a cad.
Customer: Orders a large round of complicated drinks at precisely one minute before closing.
US Bartender: Gets started on those there drinks.
NZ Bartender: The smile is angelic but beneath lurks the wrath of the titans.
Customer: Orders a large round of complicated drinks at precisely one minute after closing.
US Bartender: Politely declines on licensing grounds.
NZ Bartender: Politely explains that the nearest comparable organism to you is a sharks retractable penis.
Customer: Tips well
US Bartender: Thanks you profusely with a pleasant smile
NZ Bartender: Immediately begins to carve your likeness into Tuscan marble or compose a sonnet about you.
Customer: Tips badly
US Bartender: Pounds on the ground with both fists whilst crying and/or chases you three blocks in any direction.
NZ Bartender: Finishes your statue but doesn’t run over it with a fine polishing cloth. Removes the word ‘powerhouse’ from your sonnet.
Customer: Accuses the bartender of being drunk
US Bartender: Denies this spurious and unfounded allegation.
NZ Bartender: Nods and confirms that they are indeed blasted before pouring a round of complimentary Jagermeister for all.
The most important thing for us all to remember is that one way is not necessarily better, just different.
Dan Miles is the cult bestselling Author of “Filthy Still, a tale of travel, sex and perfectly made cocktails, set in the world of New Zealand’s late night bars and clubs”.