Bar Talk: Calling the shots (with the guy who makes them)

The Shot Bar’s Sam Monsees talks etiquette, drinks and the essential pieces of a home bar.

Bartender: Sam Monsees

Experience: Four years as bartender at The Shot Bar

Following the Q&A, check out Monsees’ recommendations for mixed drinks and beverages to keep around. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

MOVE Magazine: Are there any habits of people who come in that you can’t stand? What are your pet peeves as a bartender?

Sam: People who order individual stuff. It’s a lot easier for us to keep serving people quickly if you order like rounds of drinks. If you’re going to walk up with five friends and order five individual drinks, it takes up a lot more time than you ordering a round of five shots and the next person ordering a round of five shots, so we can keep on serving.

MOVE: Do you have tips to win over your bartender and have them notice you?

Sam: I mean, realistically, if you just keep on looking like you’re ready to be served rather than like waving your card out in front of people or like flashing that you have cash, you’re more likely to get served ... Most bartenders go through a progression, and they want to make sure that they keep to their circle, so if they break that to keep on going to the guy who’s waving money, then everyone else is going to get frustrated. So if you just keep on waiting and when it’s time to be served, you’re ready to be served, then you’re going to get served quicker than you would if you keep on waving because people will ignore you like that.

MOVE: What’s the most overrated drink that you see people order, in your opinion?

Sam: That’s a tough question. Hold on, man — it’s kind of a girly drink, but it’s pretty easy. A Dirty Shirley is basically just vodka and Sprite with some grenadine. I don’t know.

MOVE: Any thoughts on Long Island Iced Teas?

Sam: See, the thing with Long Island is you get a lot of alcohol, depending on where you go. It’s [a] good cost for the drink.

MOVE: I feel like that’s a really trendy drink right now.

Sam: I think it’s a little overrated, but I don’t know, I’d probably agree with you. The Long Island is probably the most well-known that you can like walk in anywhere and order a Long Island … I don’t know, it’s basically just like a bunch of random liquors thrown in with some sour mix and some Coke.

MOVE: What about an underrated drink? Is there any drink you feel that people don’t order enough that’s a really good drink?

Sam: The Mai Tai is surprisingly really good. That’s just rum, coconut rum, pineapple juice and grenadine.

MOVE: If you’re walking up to a bar and you totally blank, is there any drink that you have that’s like a no-fail, good drink?

Sam: Oh, that’s actually where I’d go with the Dirty Shirley. It’s universal, everybody’s gonna know how to make it. I mean, other than that, just liquor and your mixer of choice.

MOVE: Overrated or underrated: People who have “signature drinks,” like people who come in and order one drink wherever they go?

Sam: Oh, you can pretty much identify what kind of a customer somebody’s gonna be based on their drink order and kind of just their demeanor as soon as they walk in.

MOVE: Based on drink orders, who are your best customers versus your worst customers?

Sam: People who come in that know the service industry are very good. I mean, you can spot somebody when one of their friends comes in they try and order like, ‘Oh no, give me something special,’ ‘Just no, order something standard. It’s easy.’ ... Your people who drink straight shots or straight liquor are pretty much going to be your higher clientele. They kind of know exactly what they want and they’ll give you instructions on exactly how to make it, and you’re going to make it exactly that way.

MOVE: I mean that’s not bad, though; that takes the guesswork out.

Sam: I mean, for a bartender, that’s exactly what you want. If you’re trying to serve people efficiently and quickly, then the best thing that you want is for somebody to tell you exactly what they want, so that you can get it to them exactly how they want and quickly.

MOVE: I feel like you serve a lot of “side-by-side, well liquor” kind of people.

Sam: Yeah, the people that we see the majority of the time are, “get me a round of shots; get me a beer.” We don’t really see quite as much of the, “give me a straight shot of bourbon on the rocks.”


Monsees recommends

Kamikaze

Vodka

Triple Sec

Lime juice

Adios Motherf---er (or AMF for short)

Vodka

Rum

Gin

Triple Sec

Blue Curaçao

Sour

Drinks to have around

Bacardi

Smirnoff

Jack Daniels or Jim Beam

Captain Morgan

Triple Sec

Cranberry, pineapple or orange juice

Lime juice

Black Label

Edited by Katie Rosso | krosso@themaneater.com

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