There isn't a "day" as a bartender—there's...a cycle. Barry Iceman is, depending on the gig he's working, an actor or a musician or a street juggler. When people ask him what he does for a living, he usually tells them one of those things. He's only ever tended bar to pay the bills, which is one part of the cycle. The other part is keeping his various creative dreams alive.
But as he edges closer and closer to age forty, he's realizing, slowly, that he's actually a bartender. The nomenclature used to embarrass him.
He had big dreams for what his life would be, but things just didn't end up that way—two wives later and carloads of whiskey having passed through him, he now no longer drinks. But what he's learned in the process is that he's actually a really good bartender. And that counts for something.
Barry gets to work at 4:30PM—he doesn't need to get there all that early, but he's fussy about how things are set up. There's always a new barback at the bar, it seems, and they never do things the way he likes. And when the evening gets busy, if he's not set up properly...well, bad things happen.
When the bar is full and the heat is on, the main idea is to stay focused and organized—a difficult task when the ice bin isn't full, or the lemons and limes are cut all wrong. A good barback is neither seen nor heard; they stay out of the way but keep everything supplied and running smoothly.
The first customers enter around 5:15PM—there's a fancy restaurant in the room next door, and his bar acts also as a service bar for the restaurant. More business equals more opportunities for drink sales equals more money for everyone. Also, Barry's 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 plates.
In the actual bar area there are bar stools for fifteen, 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 5:30PM 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 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 obsessively—Barry always asks about the previous night's game and it gets her chatting.
By 6:30PM, the bar is full—and it's a Tuesday, so that's good business. An entire recreational softball team has just flooded into the place and these guys look ready to celebrate.
"Ten beers!" one of them shouts.
"Can you be more specific?" asks Barry.
"The...ten of the...we want beers!"
Hmm. Perhaps they've already started celebrating.
"Is Miller okay?"
"Yeah, perfect, give us ten 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 give him a straight answer.
Beth, who's trying to enjoy the game, gets peeved. You wouldn't like her when she's peeved.
She turns toward the three nearest softballers. "Can you guys get out of my face?"
"Calm down, lady," one of them says, "you don't own this place."
"I said move it." Beth reaches for where she used to keep her gun, but just feels the side of her hip where her holster used to be. It's probably a good thing she retired.
A fight threatens to break out—the drunken softball player doesn't seem like he'd hit Beth, but Beth sure looks like she's not above blindsiding him with a barstool. So Frank, the bouncer, hurries over to diffuse the situation.
"How we doin'?" she asks Barry.
"We're slammed," he says.
"Good. Stay slammed. Stay smiling. Don't forget to use the Earl Grey syrup for the Pimm's Cup." And with that, she disappears into the crowd.
For the next six or so hours, it's customers in, customers out. Barry announces last call at 1:30AM. Then, once the bar closes at 2:00AM, 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.
While others might grimace at ending the workday after 2:00AM, Barry's used to it. He sleeps from 3:00AM to 11:00AM pretty much every night and that means brunch pretty much every "morning." Not a bad way to start the day.