We bumbled our way through bartending at Billy Goat Saloon and survived

by Amanda Push

Our editor can’t cut limes to save her life. We learned that interesting tidbit late last week during a gig as guest bartenders at Billy Goat Saloon. And by guest bartenders, we mean the shittiest bartenders to ever serve drinks at this Gem Village roadside bar.

Unfortunately for our editor, the only thing Billy Goat’s owner, Ashleigh Tarkington, gets particular about is the way the limes are cut, and our editor’s lime slices looking like they were chewed by a feral animal. Most of them ended up in the garbage, where they belonged.

That, friends, was the beginning of a very long two hours of the DGO staff scrambling behind the counter at Billy Goat, desperately trying to hang on to Ashleigh’s every instruction, screwing up orders, and accidentally pouring shots into the rocks glasses (a big “you’re welcome” to the customers who ended up with those double shots). We’re also sure that we screwed up everything on the cash register, so we would like to profusely apologize to the real staff for any messes we made that they had to clean up.

Truth be told, we were nervous wrecks to bartend. None of us had any experience serving drinks, and we all have terrible people skills, so there was no way it was going to go well.

As soon as we arrived, Ashleigh jumped in on the training. Here’s where we keep the beer on ice – replace them as you serve them. Here’s how to pour a shot. This is how you use the cash register. This guy likes a lime with his beer. Wipe the counter. Wash the dishes. Restock the liquor. Wipe the beer bottles down. Keep track of the tabs. Those guys want another round. Here’s how to make a Vegas Bomb. This is our price sheet. You’re using the wrong glass. Here’s how to control the jukebox sound levels. Restock the beer from the cooler. Keep an eye on people’s drinks. When they finish, ask if they want another.

The list goes on.

Luckily, the Billy Goat regulars were amused with our flustered movements and perplexed expressions as we bumped into each other in the tight space behind the bar. It was probably quite entertaining to watch as we muttered to ourselves about where the hell the Jack Daniels was and accused one another of washing dishes to avoid making drinks. We tried in vain to remember Ashleigh’s explanation on how to run credit cards, and continually failed at locating the correct bottles in the beer cooler in a timely manner.

Eventually, we started to (just barely) get the hang of what we were doing. We were even feeling proud…right up until we learned that a good bartender can serve 30-40 people by themselves without getting overwhelmed.

By the end of the night though, we think we won over Billy Goat’s regulars. We got lots of compliments on how we’d actually done a decent job, and there were even some requests for us to we come back for another evening of guest bartending. Clearly the regulars are gluttons for DGO punishment.

We were pretty pleased with ourselves after all those compliments, but then a real bartender showed up and ran circles around us while wearing a giant leg cast, and we returned to our imaginary cones of shame. We had four good legs and couldn’t pull this bartending business off. She only had one.

After a couple of hours of fumbling around for Miller Lights, the experts stepped in, and we made our way out from behind the bar, settling in for an evening of pizza and beers instead.

Despite our bumbled efforts, we had a blast walking in someone else’s shoes. Tip your bartenders well, guys. It’s a lot harder than it looks.

— Amanda Push


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