Rowdy parties, annoying drunks, terrible tips, bad decisions, strange drink orders – these are just some of what bartenders and bar employees must deal with, especially later in the night. And they have to be equipped to handle it well. They are also the folks who have seen it all. In this light look at funny stories from around town, we asked some of DC’s bar employees what their most memorable late-night customer memories were. This just-for-fun piece showcases some anonymous drink industry memories of late-night shenanigans that have left their mark.
Extra Hot, Please!
This beverage director at a trendy local hotel bar is accustomed to helping guests stumble back to their rooms after last call and is therefore used to some unusual asks. But this harmless one really brought the heat.
“We get a fair amount of weird orders, especially later in the night. For a week, we had an elderly hotel guest come down after dinner and ask for warm London dry gin, neat. We actually had to put it under the espresso steamer until it was hot.”
Avant-Garde or Bizarre?
Taste buds can work in strange ways, and we all have our own idiosyncrasies. But at what point do they go beyond being “interesting” to just weird?
“We once had a guy, a regular at the time, who would add hot sauce to his glass of water. No kidding. As a Mexican spot, we have a range of salsas and house-made, bottled hot sauces, and he would try a different one each time – in his water, that is. His favorite was the green chili salsa, medium hot.”
Boom, It’s a Magnum!
Another beverage manager proceeded to tell us about this episode. We can’t tell you where this happened, but we can tell you this is an upscale bar in DC with a great – and expensive – wine list.
“It was a busy night at the bar, as we had multiple large parties seated and bottles of wine were flying off the shelf. There was one group celebrating a friend’s recent engagement, and they were going all out on some really nice, expensive bottles of wine. About two hours in, one of the guys came up to the bar and asked for a magnum bottle (1.5 liters) on his tab to toast his friends. Great idea, right? So far, yes. I said I would bring it right over, but he insisted that he would take it back to the table. Now, this was a pricey bottle, so I said, ‘I need to go and retrieve it and will bring it to the table with glasses.’ But he was persistent and said he would wait. I brought it back and opened it and handed it to him, and he started to walk away while I got the glasses ready on a tray to take to them. The next thing I heard was a huge shattering sound and a collective gasp. He had dropped the bottle.”
Sometimes there’s nothing better than a plate of fried food at 2 a.m. to soak up the evening’s indulgences, right? But literally soaking it up might be just a tad much.
“By far the oddest combination I have seen is a customer who ordered tater tots and then added on – I should say really doused them – with a shot of Jägermeister. I don’t know if the guy was drunk and mistook the shot for ketchup (he did ask for that too and it was right next to the shot), or if it was intentional. He did finish up the tots, so I guess it was good. I don’t know. I don’t think I could do it. I don’t think I want to do it.”
Pickle Juice, Pickle Juice, Pickle Juice
No order-shaming here, but he probably didn’t wake up with a hangover the next morning…
“We have specials at the bar every night, and on this particular night, it happened to be a pickleback: a shot of Jameson chased by a shot of pickle juice. It’s pretty popular and we were selling a lot of them that night. This guy came up to the bar with a couple of his friends, and they all ordered picklebacks. But then he wanted to customize the order [with] an entire glass of pickle juice instead of just the shot. I wasn’t sure how much or how big of a glass he wanted, but he told me that instead of a beer chaser, he wanted a pickle chaser. So, I gave him a pint of pickle juice. But here’s the best part: the three of them did another two picklebacks that night, and he had a pint of it each time!”