Get some Bitchy Waiter in your email!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Neat vs. Straight Up



As a cocktail server, I am coming across many terms that I have never encountered before. Despite my eleventy-billion years of slinging food, some words have not made it into my lexicon. One of them was "back" when referring to a chaser. For example, "I'll have a shot of Jack with a ginger back." Okey dokey... In my three weeks at the new job, I have had three people order a "back" of something. Weird. Now, I was the first to admit that I was unaware of that bar term and just asked the first dude who ordered it what it was and it was no biggie. But last shift, someone clearly did not understand the bar term he was using and blamed it on me when his drink came out wrong.


Two people are waiting for the show to start and I go to take their order. The lady asks for some drink I have never heard of. It was called a Mazzarerk or some shit like that. I think bitch made it up or dreamed it. She asked me if I knew what it was and I told her no. "Well, does the bartender know what it is?" My telepathic powers were in the shop that day making me unable to read the bartender's mind so I had to to tell her that I didn't know if he knew what it was. "Well, it's made with rye," she says like that will jog my memory. Ohhh! A Mazzarerk made with rye! Now I remember! What a cunt. I tell her we have a barbook so we could look it up and she says that if the bartender has to look it up to make it, she doesn't want it. I dunno, I guess because then he would be following a recipe and that would somehow make it all wrong? She has to think about it. The ass wipe she is with says he wants a Maker's Mark, straight up with a ginger back. I tell him how I have just learned that word and how odd it was to have heard it for a third time in just a couple of weeks. "Well, it means a chaser." He said it all condescendingly like he should be so proud of his alcoholic knowledge. I assured him I knew what it was and tried to tell him that I've been waiting tables for eleventy-billion years but realized I didn't really give a shit. His boozehound lady friend says she'll have that too. Fine. Two Maker's Marks, straight up with two ginger backs.

Now, in my head, "straight up" means chilled and poured into a martini glass. If I ordered a margarita straight up, it would be chilled, shaken and poured into a martini glass. You can even Google and Wikepedia that shit, because that is what "up" means. I bring them their drinks and the guy looks at the glasses and moans. "No, no no...up! I don't want it shaken. Look, you can see it's got bits of ice in it and now it's all watered down. Up means just pour it right from the bottle into a glass, go it?? Up, up!"

"Oh, you mean neat then, not straight up." The asshole shut up. I got his Maker's Mark neat with his ginger back and placed it in front of him and walked away. He tried to ignore me for the rest of the shift but he wasn't really because it was me who was ignoring him. I got his second round and then gave him his check all the while thinking how I wanted to take that bottle of Maker's Mark and neatly shove it straight up his ass.

CLICK HERE IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO FOLLOW THIS BLOG

18 comments:

Kathleen Neves said...

Sounds like that "cunt" wanted a Sazerac. It's a rye drink that gets an absinthe wash. But if she ordered a "Mazzerac", she clearly was confused on what she really wanted in the first place so I wouldn't be too worried.

I find it really humorous when people come into the bar (I'm a bartender) and think they know everything, but yet the way they order their drinks shows their true colors. Up versus neat is a great example.

The funniest is when people come in and tell me how much they love tequila. So when I ask them if they want a blanco, reposado or anejo, they look at me like a deer in headlights and are too afraid to ask me what the difference is. Honestly, if they love tequila so much, they would know.

I will never forget the time I had two old timers at my bar, one of them asking the other what the difference between whiskey and scotch was. The guy doing the explaining got the two mixed up so I stepped in and corrected them both. I got a fatty tip for that one!!

People, people, people. I educate my customers for entire shifts sometimes.

The Bitchy Waiter said...

Thank you, Kathleen, for clarifying what she was unable to articulate. Another great example is a twist versus a wedge, So many times people order a twist when the really don't want that.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Yeah neat and straight up are two different things. Like scotch neat and water back is totally different from a cocktail like a martini ordered straight up. On our squirrel system there is no modifier for neat so I have to put no ice. Crazy cause neat used to be used a lot way back when and back also.

Here's a tip from bartending blogger said...

I had someone come into our bar the other night. It's a lot less classy than yours I'm sure because mine is a college bar. But it was parent's weekend and the parent's love to relive their youth. Anyway, this mom asked me to make her a drink that I had never heard of and then handed me her phone so that I could read the directions off it. If I was not extremely bored I would have told her we didn't have the ingrediants to make it, which is my usual response when I have no clue what they were talking about. But I was bored so I humored her.

Coffey0072 said...

Assholes.
I love with classist, wannabe pieces of doo-doo try to condescend to others, before doing their research.
Even I (someone who has never tended bar or worked in the food industry) know the difference between 'neat' and 'straight up.'
Nothing like a slap in the face with a correction, to shut that brand of trash up. Fake alckies.

That Anonymous Asshole said...

thats your bad actually. while he could have ordered it neat, and that would have solved all issues, 'straight up' usually means 'just pour it asshole' especially if they ordered makers mark. if they wanted it 'chilled' they would have ordered it that way. people drinking 'straight up' whisky and scotch dont do chilled typically.

you have to take context into account. an 'up' martini is more typically served chilled, sure. although not always, sometimes people drink that shit warm too.

anyway, contextually, you should have known to either not chill it, or to ask whether they wanted it chilled or not. most people dont want their straight up makers chilled. im just saying. thats all you. as the professional you should have known how to get them a good drink without making them feel stupid. you get better tips that way too.

Dustin said...

LOL.! since when does "straight up" usually mean "just poured out of a bottle"? that's what "neat" is.... it has nothing to with any "context". what are you talking about? anyone who has ever worked in a bar knows that straight up means chilled. that's not the bitchy waiter's bad, dude. it's yours. and it's not his job to read his customer's mind so that they can feel good about themselves after ordering a drink incorrectly.

you order a maker's mark neat. straight up only means neat if you're a hillbilly ordering shooters for your huntin' buddies.

Kelly said...

Ahhh, you've got to love people in the "service" industry who act like life would be great if it weren't for all these f*&king customers.
You wait tables or bartend for a living. Most people don't drink for a living and therefore might not get their orders perfect. When customers act like a$$holes, then I agree they deserve a good trashing. No one deserves to be disrespected.

It would be great if servers, yes servers, would find a decent way to help people make corrections without making them feel like jerks. Nothing like paying $12 for $2 worth of alcohol just to have your server give you a bunch of attitude because your drink order volume experience doesn't equal their drink order taking experience volume.
How about:
Customer: I'll take a Maker's Mark up
Waiter: (Kindly) In our bar, up means chilled. Would you rather have that neat, which would be room temperature?
Customer: Yes, that would be great. Thanks!
Your method of bringing me what I didn't really want and getting into a pissing match about it means I'm going to a different bar next time.

The Mini - Maker said...

From my layman's standpoint, I always thought "straight up" meant "right out of the bottle". Then again, I don't drink, nor do I (or have I) worked as a bartender or in the FS industry. Thanks for the interesting info!

Generic Viagra said...

Straight up is better, there's no doubt about that! neat is only for week people! seriously

sarita said...

Ah, Kelly, you have clearly never made an old man's well manhattan the very specific way he ordered it and then had said fossil treat you like an idiot because he had no idea what he actually wanted so you had to call over your manager to make this gross, cheap drink so you could resist telling him to go die already. Just for instance.

It's easy to say servers/bartenders should always be kind when you haven't spent 12 hours being treated like someone's mentally handicapped servant. Don't be a dick and I won't be a dick, it's really that simple.

Anonymous said...

You're an idiot. Straight up means chilled in a martini glass. When you tell a bartender to make your drink straight up, you're telling them to chill it with ice. If you don't know what you're ordering then it's on you, not the bartender.

Anonymous said...

Other way around, dummy.

Anonymous said...

It really is that simple.

Kate said...

LOL. I'm not sure how you can write such a trashy, poorly articulated and condescending piece and pass it off as though you're some too-hot ~*~server~*~, and not know what a Sazerac is. Jesus H.

Ignorance is forgivable. Being condescending while you're being ignorant is less so.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Asshole & Kate have it right - it's all about context. 95% of the time if someone is ordering a whiskey shot "straight up", they mean really mean a neat shot. Yes, technically it's not the correct term, but part of the job is trying to get what people actually mean to order. Plus, it's not like this stuff is in the dictionary and is a hard & fast rule. Straight up applies more to cocktails such as martinis, Manhattans, gimlets, and any other that is also served on the rocks, more than it does to shots. You're saying "I want this chilled and without ice as opposed to being served with ice". If they want a chilled shot (which like I said, is almost never whiskey, generally more vodka or tequila) they will almost always say "chilled shot."

So yeah, save your snark for when YOU actually know what you're talking about. Oh, but you've been waiting tables for eleventy billion years? My, you're like, at the top of the shit pile.

Anonymous said...

From the bartender's point of view-
Bitchy was right. A drink served "up" or "straight up" is chilled, then strained. A drink served "neat" is poured directly from the bottle into a glass.
Also, a martini rant-
Do not look at me like I have 3 heads when you order a martini and I ask you if you want gin or vodka. Classic martinis are made with gin. AND VERMOUTH. Martinis, whether they be vodka or gin- have vermouth. Embrace it- try it once- it's delicious. If you don't want vermouth, it's not a martini. It's a spirit served "up". A drink poured into a martini glass does not a martini make. Also, a "dry" martini refers to it being made WITH dry vermouth. Not without.
Bitchy, you should really try a sazerac sometime. They are delicious. Next time you see an old bald guy in a vest behind the bar, ask him if he knows how to make one. You won't be disappointed.

Unknown said...

It's called a service job for a reason. You are supposed to anticipate the needs of your customers. So yes, while the customer is technically wrong, in all practicality, most bartenders these days know that when a drink is ordered straight up, the customer means for you to just f'in pour it in a shot glass so he can take it to the head. If he had just said 'up' then I'd be with you, but 'straight up' is more commonly used to mean neat these days. I dont care what your Wikipedia article says, you're a dumbass if you don't take it in context.