clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Zen and the Art of Bartending

Restau-Rants is Eater's safe space that allows the owners, operators, chefs and bartenders in the restaurant industry let rip about a topic that drives them nuts. Today, industry veteran, award-winning mixologist and manager of one of Vancouver's best bars, the Keefer, Dani Tatarin vents.
[Photos via Dani Tatarin]
I have been Bartending since I was 11 if I count all those times I stepped into the kitchen to make my parents and neighbours drinks. Back then the only reason I wanted to mix drinks for people was because it was fun and I liked that I was making people happy. That's what stayed with me as I grew into my career as a Bartender/Cocktail Consultant/Bar Manager/General Manager/Boss Lady. Recently, I've been studying Yoga philosophy and I've just completed 200 hours training towards my practice; training which has had a huge impact in my life and hospitality career.

My intentions for each day when I open my eyes from meditation is finding "balance" be it with a cocktail, scheduling staff, accounting, booking parties or doing the downward dog. Sometimes things go awry, and finding balance is challenging. With a cocktail I have it down to an art; I have studied flavour, history, spirits and tasted many a drink so finding balance in mixing drinks comes relatively easy to me now.

Being in the hospitality industry, working long hours and dealing with people and their 'Vrittis', balance is often hard to achieve. Each of us have our own crap we carry with us that we aren't always aware of: in Sanskrit that's our 'Vritti'.

daniyoga.JPGWhat throws me off balance? Someone who sits at the bar and proceeds to tell me how things should be done. I always try my hardest to just let it go, because after all that person is a guest and I want them to have a great experience even if they are not coming into my space with an open mind.

Or how about that person who thinks they are more important than everyone else in the room? People need to realize what they are saying or how they behave can come off the wrong way, especially when they are saying; 'Do you know how much money I have?' Yes, you just told me! But just because you have money doesn't mean you can treat people like garbage. Balance is hard to achieve when someone comes in waving an entitlement flag, no matter what that flag looks like.

Finding the balance on a night in a bar full of people when a reservation is late is challenging. It gets even harder to balance when the reservation shows up an hour and a half late and expects us to bend over backwards to accommodate them. Especially because we assumed that after we called and emailed with no response from them that they must have encountered some disaster en route. So when they call the next day to enquire/complain/threaten to sue you for a cancellation pre-authorization that is showing on their credit card, finding that balance is challenging. How do you explain nicely to someone who does not seem to be listening to what you are saying to them? Pause for a quiet, yet deep breath, and tell them you will do all you can to remedy the situation, even if it means going back over everything you just said to them again and try to make it make sense to them.

One more thing that makes the difficulty of standing in a tree pose for five minutes seem easy compared to hospitality; practice mixing six plus drinks at the same time, while scanning the bar for empty drinks, watching the door for new guests and making sure you have glassware and garnish ready. As a guest, this is not the ideal time to ask any bartender what that last ingredient was or if they can make you something from the latest online Imbibe issue that you have so kindly put in front of their face. If you cannot see that we are trying our hardest to make sure everyone gets a drink in front of them and is greeted in a timely fashion, then you need to take your eyes off your smart phone for a second and focus on the now.

As much as I try to find balance in each moment, I hope that the people who come into my path will be able to find that too, even if it is in the experience of a mixed drink made with care and the best intentions.
· Keefer Bar [Official Site]
· All Previous Cocktail Week Coverage [EVAN]
· All Previous Keefer Bar Coverage [EVAN]

Keefer Bar

135 Keefer Street, Vancouver, BC V6A 1X3 604-688-1983