By Chris Stone
‘Tis the season to be jolly — or depressed. In either case, you may end up in a bar.
With New Year’s Eve being one of the busiest nights of the year to imbibe, a bartender with a decade’s experience in straight and gay bars shared 10 insights about the bar scene during the holidays.
He’s worked in the Southwest and San Diego, where he now lives, and didn’t wish to be named.
1. Fights: Fighting is a more common occurrence because people tend to be more sensitive during the holidays and “inexperienced” drinkers mingle with regulars, who can be territorial about “their” bar.
2. Hookups: Holidays make people want to be with others and the mix of alcohol and loneliness lead to more hookups and displays of sexuality in straight and gay bars.
3. Mood: As holiday season brings a flood of emotions, depressed individuals “come in droves” to bars to drown sorrows. Many complain to bartenders about not enough or too much family interaction.
4. Occupations: Nurses and teachers are among the top revelers during the holidays.
5. Specialty drinks: Fancier drinks requests such as lemon drops, Bloody Marys, old fashioneds, and flavored martinis, replace the bottle of beer or glass of wine more commonly consumed throughout the year. Colder weather also stimulates orders for warmer drinks such as coffee with a shot of Bailey Irish Cream.
6. Volume: A seven-hour period could rack up $1,500 in sales of $3 drinks during the holidays, as opposed to $500 in the same period of time. “It’s staggering how sales go up,” the bartender said.
7. Increased generosity: “I’ll get the next round” is a common refrain as some people spend hundreds of dollars buying drinks for their buddies or the whole bar. That generosity also extends to bartender tips. Tips double or triple during the season. Rather than a $5 gratuity, customers give up to $50 or higher.
8. Bigger groups: Instead of couples or friends meeting at the bar, large groups of friends or families with out-of–town relatives “come in droves” this time of year, the bartender said.
9. Attire: Hoping to impress others or just look their holiday best, many wear new outfits and accessorize their clothing with scarves and other items.
10. After the holidays: Midnight marks the beginning to the transformation of bars into “ghost towns” until about Jan. 15 because of people’s New Year’s resolutions to drink less. Volume gets back to normal around Valentine’s Day, he said.
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