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Behind bars — Local bartenders talk business

SHERIDAN — Whether they’re pouring beers, mixing cocktails or adding up receipts at the end of the night, Sheridan’s bartenders are the men and women on the front lines of the area nightlife scene.

This week their skills are set to be tested to an even greater extent than usual as thousands of visitors descend on the city to experience the 2013 Sheridan-Wyo-Rodeo.

Since the last time rodeo rolled around, the Sheridan bar scene has seen several major changes including newly implemented smoke-free policies at The Mint and The Rainbow and the addition of new locations such as Warehouse 201.

Still, bartenders said they don’t anticipate any major curveballs to the wild week for area watering holes.

In the lead-up to the busiest nights of the weeklong event, The Sheridan Press took to the streets to sit down with bartenders at some of the city’s more high-traffic locations to get their thoughts on the profession.

Nationwide an estimated 538,000 people make their living as bartenders, according to figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and although they earn a mean hourly wage of $10.40, that amount can vary greatly depending on time of year, weather conditions, the abundance or lack of competing businesses, local demographics and a variety of other factors.

Even in Sheridan, with its limited number of establishments, bartenders had plenty to say about the ups and downs of their craft.

 

Dena Shell

The Rainbow Bar

Q: How long have you been bartending?

A: Seven years. About five working shifts (at The Rainbow).

Q: What is your most commonly requested drink?

A: Probably Captain and Coke.

Q: Is there any one demographic that stands out as particularly good tippers?

A: Generally I think a lot of people that work in the restaurant industry tend to be good tippers.

Q: What’s something you wish people knew about the job?

A: We really care about our patrons and want them to be safe.

Q: What are the best and worst parts of the profession?

A: I enjoy watching people have a good time, but it can be a high-stress job.

Q: How would you characterize your clientele?

A: We have a wide range of people. It’s a nice variety.

Jake Asmussen

Beaver Creek Saloon

Q: How long have you been bartending?

A: Four years. All of them here.

Q: What is your most commonly requested drink?

A: If it’s a shot, it’s a Fireball (whiskey). If it’s a drink, it’s most likely vodka and something.

Q: What’s something you wish people knew about the job?

A: Probably how much crap you have to put up with. Drunkenness and attitudes and trying to keep everybody calm when there’s 80 different types of people in here.

Q: What are the best and worst parts of the profession?

A: The best part is the money. I make really good money and only work 28 hours a week. You have cash in your pocket all the time. Jobs like this can ruin you for other jobs. The worst part is people getting sick and having to deal with the fights and stuff like that. Also having to get upset with the people you care about.

Q: How would you characterize your clientele?

A: You get a lot of tourists in the summer because it’s a historic building. But mostly we get a lot of locals and a lot of vets. We’ve got a pretty good variety.

 

Becki Butterfield

The Mint Bar

Q: How long have you been bartending?

A: Ten years total. Two of them here.

Q: What is your most commonly requested drink?

A: Crown and Coke and Chuck Norris Shots, which are Dr. McGillicuddy’s cherry schnapps and liquid ice.

Q: Is there any one demographic that stands out as particularly good tippers?

A: Not at all. We know how much (our regulars) are going to tip, and sometimes they’ve got a set amount that they tip regardless of how much they order.

Q: What’s something you wish people knew about the job?

A: There’s so much. I guess how hard it is to keep a smile and laugh at the end of the night because of the people who get really intoxicated and some of the stuff we have to deal with.

Q: What are the best and worst parts of the profession?

A: The best part is seeing everyone have fun. The people-watching is hilarious. The worst part is probably seeing people fight.

 

Allison Connell

The Black Tooth Brewing Company

Q: How long have you been bartending?

A: I’ve been bartending for a little over a year now at the Rib and Chop House, here and in Missoula.

Q: Is there any one demographic that stands out as particularly good tippers?

A: This applies less here than in restaurants, but generally the people that can afford it (tip well). They tend to be older and affluent. Also anyone who has worked in the service industry.

Q: What’s something you wish people knew about the job?

A: I wish they knew that when it gets busy, we see you. There’s very rarely a moment when it’s busy and a bartender is purposely ignoring you.

Q: What are the best and worst parts of the profession?

A: The best part is that I get to hang out with people all day. I really don’t think there’s a worst part. If you’re in this line of work, you like people and you understand that the hours are different (than most jobs).

 

About

Paolo Cisneros

Paolo Cisneros joined The Sheridan Press staff in August 2012. He covers business, energy and public safety. A Chicago native, he graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2011.

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