There isn't a "day" as a bartender—there's...a cycle. Barry Iceman is really an actor/musician/juggler. When people ask him what he does for a living, he tells them one of those things. But as he kisses age 40, he realizes that he's a bartender. The nomenclature used to embarrass him—he had big dreams for what his life would be. Things didn't end up that way—two wives later and carloads of whiskey in him, he no longer drinks. But what he's learned in the process is that he is actually a really good bartender.
Barry gets to work at 4:30 (pm)—he doesn't need to get there all that early, but he's fussy about how things get set up. There's always a new barback at the bar, it seems, and they never do things the way he likes it. And when the evening gets busy, if he's not set up properly…well, bad things happen. He forgets where the 25-year-old Scotch is kept; he can't remember where he put the special shot glasses for his Regulars; he can't find his black book for the just-in-case gal who comes in once in a while and whom he…wants to get to know better.
The first customers enter around 5:15—there's a fancy restaurant in the room next door, and his bar acts also as a service bar for the restaurant. More business = more opportunities for drink sales = more money. Also, Barry is able to offer a smaller version of the restaurant's menu to those at the bar—he takes the order, puts it in with the kitchen, and then food runners dash back and forth between the restaurant and the bar to deliver the plates.
In the actual bar area, there are lots of customers, bar stools for 15 and two big side areas for a dozen tables to accommodate seated customers. There are two other bartenders who work alongside Barry and they know how to hump it when things get busy. It takes a lot of the stress off of him.
One of the Regulars is there nightly at 5:30 on the dot. Beth—a retired cop. Tough. Angry. Rough life. Orders whiskey on the rocks every night. Barry likes to have it ready for her so that her butt and the base of the glass hit the stool and the bar, respectively, at about the same time. She follows the local baseball team like it's a stepchild—Barry always asks about the game last night and it gets her flowing.
By 6:30, the bar is full—and it's a Tuesday. An entire amateur softball team has just flooded into the place and these guys look ready to celebrate.
Hmm. Perhaps they have already started celebrating.
"Is Miller okay?"
"Yeah, perfect, give us 10 of those!"
"Draft or bottle?"
"Whatever will allow us to drink 'em faster, dude!"
Great. Nothing Barry enjoys more than a patron who can't just give him a straight answer.
Beth, who is trying to enjoy the game, gets peeved. You wouldn't like her when she's peeved.
"Can you guys get out of my face?"
"Calm down, lady. You don't own this place."
"I said move it." Beth reaches for where she used to keep her gun. Probably a good thing she retired.
A fight threatens to break out—not that the drunken softball player would ever hit a woman, but Beth isn't above blindsiding him with a barstool…so Frank, the bouncer, hurries over to diffuse the situation.
We have a feeling that, ironically, this guy would not bounce.
At around 7:30, Lacy, the bar manager passes through to make sure there are no problems.
"How we doin'?" she asks Barry.
"We're slammed," he says.
"Good. Stay slammed."
For the next six or so hours, it's customers in, customers out. Barry announces last call at 1:30. Then, once the bar closes at 2, he and the barbacks do the closing duties—reviewing receipts, closing out the register, melting the ice in the bin, cleaning the glassware, and putting caps back on the bottles.
Before heading out, he has one for the road. Don’t worry—he's cabbin' it.