Story by Leroy Martin-McEwan
Good Evening! And if it isn’t evening, then good on you!
Most bartenders are well acquainted with 5am, though it’s not often when the snooze button gets slammed. More often it’s tequila (or whiskey) getting slammed and kick-ons begin. If I’m kicking anything on at 5am, it’s the shower because I’m too hungover, too tired or god forbid.. it’s still dark.
Buckle your seats you nocturnal animals, I’m talking about daytending.
The Gresham is open until 3am everyday, no doubt. But three hours after you’ve normally been asked to finish your beer and go home, another staff member has arrived to take all that furniture you helped Magnus bring inside, back outside again. The light fader goes from minimum to maximum and the same rocking tunes get cranked again.
The savvy among you will have mathed out that we open at 7am, and the even more cunning knows that Queensland licensing laws don’t allow service of alcohol between 3am-10am — casinos, of course, excluded. However within a three block radius of any building in the CBD, there is a million combined stories of office buildings, each of which is a beehive full of anger that (like you) can’t do anything without a large cup of morning brown.
The coffee competition is fierce. Slashing 10 cents off the price of the stand across the road, or discounting anyone who brings their own cups. Loyalty cards, special origin, free chocolate/marshmallows. The colonels blend is the name of our bean, and while it’s a Dap and Co exclusive, It’s only part of what brings everyone back.
Aside from the beauty of the heritage building, there is a feeling of infinite timelessness — not the same feeling as the max lighting, downtown corner 7/11, but the knowledge that for just a moment, you can step away from life.
Once 10am swings by, you can never be sure what to expect. One might come in for home loan (avo) on toast, others a beer to talk with a colleague/associate. Quite often we’ll whip up a Negroni or an Old Fashioned for someone visiting the city from interstate.
Sure, let’s get real, the demand for alcohol is a lot lower during the day, all of the prep work is on you, more often than not the hot chick ordering her Pinot Gris doesn’t want your number, and with all your tips you can almost buy your entire bus fare home.
On the other side however, no one is going to try and fight you, the toilets are nearly always clean and you get to choose the tunes. Taking Friday and Saturday night off is just the cherry on top.
More importantly, you are able to see how a business is run from the ground up.
All stock received runs through your hands, preparation turns from being a task into a preservation game, all syrups/pre-batches/juices/tincture recipes become second nature and of course, service is expected to be as high standards as any other time in the day except that everyone is sober to judge you on it.
Whether you have a decade or a weddings worth of bartending experience, take the prep shift just once – start time doesn’t
matter. Take a small step way from the 7 hours of non stop service and take a look to see what has been done to make that service as easy as it was.