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Food & Drink

What SA’s bartenders (slash therapists, slash BFFs, slash secret crushes) wish you knew

Photo: Josh Huskin, License: N/A

Josh Huskin

Stephany Gordon, mixologist at SoHo Wine and Martini Bar

Chatting over a Scarlet O’Hara (ask her for one; they’re fantastic), she told me it’s not unusual for her boyfriend to jokingly critique her modest neckline and encourage a certain bubbliness in her work. “He’ll tell me that I’m not showing enough cleavage, half-joking, half not,” she said, laughing. “I want someone to enjoy their time here. If they need someone to talk to and flirt or they want to have a political conversation or a sports conversation, that’s what I’m here for.”

Meanwhile, more amorous patrons should consider how original their “declarations” might be to their drinkmakers. If you fancy the bartender, don’t make it known by staring skeezily at her/him over your michelada. “Sometimes looks make a bigger impact than anything they can say,” Gordon said, shuddering.

Just don’t get your wires crossed. Be judicious.

If these guidelines sound blatantly obvious, it’s likely because they’re all variations of the same theme: The Golden Rule. Yet midnight at Joe Blue’s is just the time and place that this maxim becomes spasmodically ignored. Resident Joe Blue’s bartender Scott Saulle promises he’s aware of everyone that bellies up, so no need to snap your fingers, bang your glass, or whistle for him. He’ll be right there after he preps these five Jägerbombs.

Don’t be passive aggressive by writing phone numbers and drunken poetry on your credit card receipts. Instead, be prepared to act genuine, interested, and sober. And visit regularly. “You have to court them,” Gordon said, who receives a phone number on a receipt almost every night. “It’s almost like dating without dating. You’ve got to show them that you’re interested in them as a person, not just a pretty face that’s making your drink.”

Or you could heed Thurman’s advice: “Don’t shit where you eat.”

In any case, do unto your barkeeps as you would have them, ahem, do you. All interviewed for this story expressed genuine joy for their work. They love being the arbiter of good times and, in return, simply ask for your courtesy, patience, and whatever compensation you deem appropriate for their services. After all, “bartender” becomes an umbrella term for other jobs as the night wears on, namely therapist, counselor, caretaker, and single-serving BFF.

“As a joke, my mother once asked me — because I studied psychology — what I’m ever going to do with my degree,” Simpson said. “Before she passed away I told her, ‘Mom, I use it every day.” D

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