Silly questions about standard restaurant bar practices

I've done a lot of restaurant shops, but the bar component is relatively new to me, both in shopping and in my personal life. Because I want to eventually do hotel and resort shops, I'm adding some restaurants with a bar visit to get my feet wet.

My first question: If a customer pays in cash and the bartender retrieves change from a leather wallet rather than a register, is this most likely a violation of policy? Or do some bars allow this and just settle up with the register at the end of the night? I'm not talking about pulling his wallet out of his back pocket. This is a large wallet taken from a shelf under the bar, and I've seen it twice in the same establishment with different bartenders. Receipt readily given upon request.

Next question: Say a person orders a mixed drink, such as a vodka and cranberry. Bartender gets out a rocks glass and a jigger, measures the alcohol into the jigger, then keeps pouring into the glass from the bottle as he dumps the contents of the jigger into the glass. Sets both jigger and bottle onto the counter, adds the mixer, and hands patron her (extremely strong) drink. Is this considered bad practice? Or is it a perfectly acceptable hybrid between jigger measurement and free pouring, and the customer who just happens to like her drinks on the weak side should just suck it up and order a 7-up on the side?

Obviously in both cases, as a shopper I report what I see and don't need to pronounce it good or bad in my report, but I'm not a fan of my own naivete and it helps me to phrase things with the right emphasis if I know what's up. The guidelines for this shop don't explicitly state what the acceptable practice is for this establishment.

Also, what are some good options for mixed drinks with a little sweetness that leave room for an upsell? It may be a while before I can drink another vodka cranberry after the one I had to sip last night.

We are all here on earth to help others....What on earth the others are here for I don't know.

--W. H. Auden

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I'll let more experienced shoppers comment on the validity of the practices you have seen. I haven't seen either at any of my bar audits. Regardless, I wouldn't really change emphasis or tone based upon my belief on whether it were good or bad.

For a sweetish drink that allows an upsell, I usually ask for a vodka sprite. They can attempt to upsell it to a premium vodka. Almost any mixed drink would have this option since they will have well and premium liquors for things such as vodka and gin.
It will not be up to you to "pronounce it good or bad." You will just describe exactly where the cash was placed and will use the specific shop guidelines to answer the pouring question. For some establishments what you saw may be given a name and and how to report it will be indicated. For the cash, obviously you will have to answer "no" if there is a question asking if all cash was placed in the cash drawer.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
All that matters is that you should report things as they happen. Yes there are establishments where it is perfectly fine to over-pour, and yes there are places where it is fine to handle the cash transactions through a banker's type pouch but that doesn't mean those are acceptable everywhere you might go. Why the need to be in the know? Sometimes ignorance is bliss, as I don't necessarily want to know whether what I am reporting is getting someone in trouble.
Pouring a full jigger and then a bit more from the bottle at the same time is called "trailing," and businesses do generally frown on it. The individual client has the final say on whether it's acceptable or not, but it should certainly be noted in your report.

"The future ain't what it used to be." --Yogi Berra
On the same subject... once I was doing a bar integrity shop, and when there were no customers, the bartender was eating appetizers from a basket he kept under the counter. When someone needed a drink or it got busier, he put the food away under the bar and got to work. When there was no one around, he went back to the appetizers.

I had to report it just as it happened, with no value judgment--I had no idea whether this guy was slacking off and eating free food from the kitchen while he was clocked in, or if he was a great employee who had skipped his lunch break and the manager had told him to grab a bite when he was able. It's an example of why we only report the facts as we see them, with no opinions attached to it.

"The future ain't what it used to be." --Yogi Berra
For what it's worth, I've already submitted the report on this shop, stating things as I saw them without judgement, as we do. However, it's my hope for my reports not to sound like they were written by a newly landed alien, ("The bartender used several cubes of a frozen and tasteless clear substance to create less room in my glass for the beverage. He then punched some buttons on a box at the far end of the bar and retrieved my change from a secret drawer" ) so terms like banker's pouch and trailing are useful.

We are all here on earth to help others....What on earth the others are here for I don't know.

--W. H. Auden

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/27/2015 09:44PM by Alisonj3.
Yes, report what you see and let the client decide what is acceptable.

But a bit of background. Bartenders can steal from the bar/restaurant by not charging for drinks, by placing money in their pocket (or other place) instead of the restaurant's till, by over pouring, or up selling without charging for the upsell. Many of those techniques are designed to get a bigger tip from the customer. It is also quite easy for bartenders to do these things. So, this is why observations just like you described regarding money handling with the pouch and the over pour are important to management. Who knows? They may be acceptable in that place. But they do raise an eyebrow from this restaurant/bar veteran.

Happily shopping Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut
You don't state if the drink was for you or not, and from your post it could be read either way. Assuming it was for someone else, it is possible that the customer may have asked for a slightly stronger drink, thus the "trailing". There's a bar shop I do on a fairly regular basis and the instructions state the counting method to use if the bartender is freepouring instead of using a jigger.

"To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful." Edward R. Murrow

Thou shalt not steal. I mean defensively. On offense, indeed thou shall steal and thou must.--Branch Rickey
I thought my last sentence made it clear that I was required to drink some of the vodka-vodka-cran in question? It was undrinkable and if I had not been working I would have asked him to put it in a highball glass and add more juice or some soda to it. As it was, I just sipped it for a few minutes and then quietly set it aside in an inobtrusive place. But, yes, I'm sure there are customers who would have been thrilled with the bonus. I doubt the owner would be.

I'm familiar with the counting method for freepouring, which was partly why I asked whether there was an acceptable hybrid between the two. From what I have heard, it's generally either/or.

We are all here on earth to help others....What on earth the others are here for I don't know.

--W. H. Auden
When I was gambling at a bar years ago, (not a shop) my SO and I would get free drinks because if you are gambling, they give you free drinks. (we tipped our bartender well) and when I hit a Royal Flush, I gave the bartender 10% of my win. I think he loved us! lol.smiling smiley .I remember though, each time he gave us a drink, he had to ring something in the register, likely "comp" and then put the receipt in a cup. I never paid it much attention but looking back on it, he accounted for every drink he gave us, in one way or another. He never just handed us a drink and did nothing...

I have never done a bar integrity shop but I have done the "Famous Steak House" and had to observe how they poured the drinks, ID'ing anyone under 30, if they used a chilled glass for beer and if they used the jigger, but that shop, as you know, involved more than just observing the bartender for alcohol techniques smiling smiley
I didn't see anything silly about your questions at all, Alison. I thought they were some very good questions and excellent answers from our forum members. I learned some good stuff here. "Trailing"? That was a new one on me. Thanks everyone.

There are two types of people in this world: Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data.
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