Swag Hospitalityor This is your time, you're welcome.
"Think about everytime a guest comes through those doors." Kieth W. presents firmly as he as lays aim at the front entrance of Liberty Bar with both hands extended, ‘that person chose to come and spend their time and dime with you, they want to be at your party, out of all the great places to pick in this city - it is your goal to make them feel that it is their party. You were just waiting for them’.
Sitting on the other side of that sacred two feet of natural wood, with my fellow bartenders tired-eyed and sipping our coffee, we all slowly calm the side talk and collectively silence our phones and pick up pens and open notebooks. On account I was locking the door to close shop only 7 hrs ago, i reached for few coasters and made due. Some of the best things spoken or thought have been sketched out on such humble, and usually whisk(e)y stained, compressed paper tablets. I guess alot of poor jokes and weak pick-up lines have been scribbled, too. Thats what makes freedom rad.
This instance was apart of a very prepared and planned meeting that is the backbone of Liberty’s theory on education envisioned by Kieth Waldbauer and Andrew Friedman, the very involved proprietors of the whisk(e)y-forward joint. We ate it up, and believe we all chewed slowly.
Yet, i’ve had similar revelations at 6am as a barista and the weary begin to flood into the cafe with very real needs. As i wipe my hands on the bar towel fastened to the back of belt I look over and see Brandon Paul Weaver doing the same.
The fluidity of the teamwork is something like performance art. Creating and crafting tasty coffee and beverages like an oiled machine. A hella oiled machine. This is our natural habitat. This is the art of allowing eye contact and swift smile to calm the guests and make patience easy and worthwhile. ‘We have been waiting! You’re all late, but we’ll let it slide.’ The slightly cocky witticism commands some of the first smiles and laughs of their morning. We are lucky to be apart of it, for in turns this sets the tone to our shift, and entire day, really. The good feeling is damn infectious.
These two memories are quite different but have the same lasting aftertaste. The underriding truth that our guest service is just that, a service to the guest. The polished surface of the experience is full sensory. From the cleanliness of the windows to the music and lighting- all the way to how we dress and what type of energy we are emitting via our personalities. We are social hosts and liquid managers. We are reserved philosphers and spinners of jokes and jests all day and night. There is never comfort quite like laughter. It also happens to pair well with coffee and spirits. To bark back and forth about sports, or have a solemn hand on the back of the guest who is going through a hardship. It is intense. It is real. It is the foundation of social currency, even though it happens in the context of a transaction. But this is not negative, this is sustainability. Provisions for provisions. It is truly the good life.
Having been in these two seemingly different industries simultaneously, Brandon and I have had a special insight into the unseen fabric of what unites them. We’ve had the fortune of working for and along side some of the best men and women who’ve made their professions behind a bar, whether it be during sunrise or sunset.
The things learned and the visions spoken back and forth between us until the late hours of our rare nights off have led us both to a new commitment. The concept of bringing these two liquid industries together is embodied in what we have named Matte&Gloss. The goal is to make this a voice for both sides of our profession. Bringing together the morning and night with the tenants of each that are simiar, and at times identical.
The working term here is Holistic Bartender. It is a permutation, and really a growth, from a theory I had and published on WhyNotCoffee?’s blog a few years ago. It is growth because of the collabrative efforts of both editors, Brandon and I. We want to showcase the best examples in our city, and eventually country at large, of those who understand the possibilities of excellence that can be attained when we take keys from each segment of the hospitality industry. From understanding the products, producers, retailers, and those on the frontlines: Baristas and Bartenders, and lead the way to awareness of the similarites and benefits with mental cross-pollination.
The wheels are already in motion and the beginnings of this trend of multi-diciplinary cohesion can be seen at the top levels of coffee bars and traditional beer, spirits and wine bars. The Holistic Bartender is the natural evolution. We are here to do our part. We hope to inspire you to do yours as well.