Sep

5

A Night In The Life: Columbia/Barnard Bartender

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A cloudy martini glass with two olives and alcohol.

Two olives makes it even more classy

Rumor has it that Columbia’s core and Barnard’s foundational requirements have one ultimate purpose: to provide adequate cocktail conversational skills. This narrative is evidenced by the fact that both Columbia and Barnard have their own respective bartending agencies. If you know a Columbia/Barnard bartender, chances are they have some pretty cool stories about their previous gigs. Events Editor Lexie Lehmann gives you this boozy edition of Night in the Life.

4:00 pm: You get out of your last class of the week. While some of your classmates will rejoice the start of the weekend with a celebratory shot or much needed nap, you rush back to your dorm to prepare for your gig.

4:30 pm: The only thing you know about your upcoming event is that it’s a “birthday party” in Midtown East. Pay is a solid $22/hour. All black attire requested. You dig a pair of black slacks out of the bottom of your laundry basket and fetch a black button down from a crevice in your drawer. You haven’t worn, nor washed, either garment since your last bartending gig about 2 weeks ago.

5:15 pm: The client told you beforehand to bring ice, your waiter’s corkscrew, and a smile. Weird but… cute? He also told you via email to call him when you get to the apartment building. Because of security reasons, you’ll need to bring a photo ID and be escorted up. You note that the email’s signature contains small print tidbits about confidentiality and screening. Also weird? You wonder who’s birthday party this is…

6:00 pm: You arrive for your 6:30 gig early, ice in tow from the Gristedes down the street. You walk up to the boujee Park Street apartment building. A gold plated sign to the left of the doorway reads that this was previously the home of some jazz singer you’ve never heard of. Sounds important.

6:02 pm: You call your host. A pleasant, giddy voice answers the phone. He is so excited you could make it this evening. He says he’ll be down in a second.

6:07 pm: A short, slim man in his middle-to-late 60s comes down to the lobby. What remains of his hair is a bright, stark white. His piercing blue eyes are framed in thin-wired glasses; they look expensive in a way that mass-produced Warby Parkers don’t. You can’t help but stare at the Rolex on his wrist; you can literally see your smudged, rushedly-applied eyeliner in its reflection.

6:11 pm: He leads you up to his apartment and thanks you for bringing the ice. When you arrive at his floor — yes, the entire floor is his — the first thing you see is at least 5 pictures of your host posing with various former presidents. The biggest one is framed over a fireplace mantle; your host, Michelle, Barack, Sasha and Malia. WTF?

6:30 pm: Your host notices you staring and says that he is a pretty well known donor for democratic candidates. He’s also an investment banker at a top firm. Tonight he’s hosting a birthday party for one of the senior members of Hillary Clinton’s campaign staff. He apologizes for the fact that Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, and Huma Abedin, her senior advisor, can’t make it tonight because they had last minute conflicts. You try to pick your jaw up from its place on the floor.

6:45 pm: The host leads you to his kitchen where he has at least 7 shelved drawers full of wine glasses. He requests that you set them up and pre-pour some wine and seltzer for the guests, who are slated to arrive in the next 15 minutes or so. He pulls out a fancy bottle of top shelf whisky from underneath the sink and advises you to only give it out if a guest specifically asks for “the hard stuff”. He winks in a way that is sort of creepy for an older man, but you smile and say, “Okay, sounds good”.

7:00 pm: The guests arrive. They’re everything from hip twenty-somethings to older women who just smell important. Some are in heels and dresses, others in jeans and flats. Some throw their jackets on top of you without saying another word, others politely ask you where they can store their coats. Just about everyone asks for a glass of wine ASAP. You happily oblige.

7:05 – 10:00 pm: The party ensues. You recognize faces and some bigger names, including a top name in Hillary for America’s finance department you fangirled over when you interned with the campaign in the Fall. Throughout the night, you steal away to the bathroom to frantically text your mom and all of your friends about the crazy, glamorous night you’re having. They’re all jealous, for sure.

10:30 pm: The party begins to dwindle and the host encourages you to begin cleaning up. Soon, only a handful of guests remain — including the finance guy you’re dying to talk to. When you catch a moment, you pull your host aside an ask a favor: you’d “hate to leave without asking”, but could you be introduced to so-and-so? HE AGREES.

10:32 pm: You walk over and try to fix your hair in the seconds before networking with your career goals. After shaking his hand, you feel like you’ve peaked as a Columbia student. He says he hopes he sees you again soon. You do too!

10:37 pm: After some schmoozing, you do a final clean up and pick up some spare glasses that had been lingering around the apartment. You grab your things and head to your host to collect your night’s pay. He happily hands you your dues, including a hefty 40% rounded up to the nearest $20 increment to cover your transportation home. Wad of cash in hand, you head back to the elevator.

10:40 pm: You’re on top of the world as you order your Uber back to campus. Hopping in the car, your driver blasts Louis the Child. As though in a movie scene, you stare out the car window and see the lights of the city pass you by. You check your phone to see a text from your friend, “Mel’s at 11:30?” “Sure,” you respond, “first round of shots on me”.

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3 Comments

  1. lol

    lol what? so a top IB exec hires a barnard college student as a bartender for his party???

    something's a bit off lol.

    • Anon

      As an ex-CBA bartender who's worked this kind of stuff I can confirm it happens (not super often, but it does). I've asked clients before about why they chose to hire some rando undergrad student and it's usually because of both good word-of-mouth reviews (for the bartenders/mixologists and the agency alike) as well as the fact that most freelance bartenders/mixologists in the city charge at *least* double for the same services, and occasionally without guaranteed training. TL;DR if you want to have a fun, challenging, and occasionally super-cool-like-this job that pays well and gives you and excuse to see the city, join CBA!!

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