Just the Tips: Notes from a Whistler Bartender
Guest Author: Aaron Peart
Hi there. What are you drinking?
My name’s Aaron. I’m one of the lucky people that call Whistler home. I’m a bartender and I love my job. Pouring drinks and seeing A-list DJs and bands (and getting paid to see them) beats a desk job any day of the week. Throw in a flexible schedule for early morning pow laps, and a built-in social scene full of happy people from all over the world, and you’re looking at one of the happiest guys in town.
Whistler is one of the only places in the world where top-notch skiing is matched by a diverse and sometimes bacchanalian party scene. With that in mind, I want to make sure your holiday is a memorable one (which might be why I became a bartender in the first place) so I’ve put together a list of tips to keep in mind the next time you saddle up to a Whistler bar.
Read the Room
I’m not here to tell someone what to drink. A man can drink a pink martini if he wants, a girl can drink a scotch (and if she does, I wanna meet her). This is more about ordering something that suits the occasion. So maybe don’t order a martini in a packed dance club and expect it to stay a) in your glass and b) off your shirt. Likewise, don’t go to a white tablecloth restaurant and order a Corona, or – worse – a Bud Light.
The first is just logistics: the dance floor is busy, and so are the staff. You think I want to take an entire 5-7 minutes, practically a lifetime in service minutes, to make your Old Fashioned when there are dozens of people looking for whatever draught tap is on special tonight? Similarly, in an nice joint why not ramp it up a notch with your beer choice? Repeat after me: I am better than Light Beer. No one’s here to judge your fancy cocktail. Have fun, you’re on holiday!
In the same vein, be open to BC wines. There is more to life than the Napa Valley. BC’s wine production rivals the big boys in everything except quantity. If you aren’t sure what you like, ask your server or bartender, and mention to them what you usually drink. I promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised at both the quality and variety of wines that our tiny little corner of grapes can churn out.
We’ve All Been There
Look, this is Whistler: I myself have been here 10 years, and I still consider myself a restaurant rookie compared to some of my friends and co-workers. After 50 years as a destination ski hill Whistler has seen it all. So don’t be ashamed if you left your credit card at the bar from the night before. At least you aren’t like the one here earlier, picking up their pants. We keep secrets (at least, I do) and we’ve seen it before, and probably been there.
Tipping is Optional… Sort of
I get it: they don’t tip where you’re from, and it isn’t your fault that I don’t get paid a “livable wage” in a place where the cost of living seems to increase every winter. Well, here’s some news: it’s not my fault either. Believe me, if I was in control of my wage, I assure you, I’d do away with tip jars forever.
You are obviously entitled to not tip your bartender… but you know how they say “Tip well on the first round, and the staff will remember you?”. Tipping is optional but out of 300 people in the bar/club looking for quick service on their next round believe me: we’re really good at remembering faces.
We’re People Too
I’ve never understood why some people think they are entitled to be rude to the people that are in charge of all the booze. We’re not “the help”, we’re the party starters. Your money is the same as anyone else’s, so I’ll happily take their money while they smile at me. A friend and local server said it best: “Gin and Tonic” is not an acceptable response to “Hi, how are you today?”
Know Your Limit
We’re all here to have a good time – customers and staff. But if your bartender says that’s enough, be it because you’ve had too many, or the last call has come and gone, remember this. It doesn’t matter if you’re a lawyer, doctor, CEO, or the Queen of England – if I say you’re done for the night, then that’s all you are to me. “I could get you fired!” really loses its teeth when I know I actually will be fired if I give in to your whining and serve you another.
Love It, Live It: Aprés
The French have a lot things really dialed: bread, toast, kissing… and Aprés, that magical witching hour between post-ski and pre-hot tub. Here in Whistler we also have it down to an art and a science. Your trip isn’t complete without a shot-ski or a Jäger bomb train (ask your bartender). Hell, if you can take a shot of Jack Daniels like a champion that practically makes you extended family in Whistler. On that note…
Talk to Strangers
Forget everything you learned in kindergarten; strangers in Whistler are usually pretty cool. Because we’re all the ‘black sheep’ of our respective families, we come together in the mountains to form this merry community of misfits. Our town motto should be “You’re weird? I’M weird!! Let’s go skiing!” You’ll be amazed who you might meet on a chairlift or next to you at the bar – pros, actors, even actual rocket scientists. Or at the very least, new friends. I recently visited Portland, OR, because I started talking to someone 5 years ago on a gondola who didn’t have anyone to go skiing with the next day. He met up with us the next morning and ended up having the 2nd best day of his life (after heli-skiing). A half-decade later and I’m a guest in his city and loving it. Don’t simply stare at your phone on that morning gondola ride, smile, say hello, and wait and see what happens. And I’ll see you at Aprés!
With these handy tips you can keep the stoke from the slopes going all through the night this New Year’s Eve in Whistler. Of course, there is much more to mountain life than going to the bar and you can explore the options at Whistler.com