A Petaluma360 Blog


Jeff Burkhart on culture, cocktails and class

Barfly: Polite society is often neither

It was as innocuous as a day could be; a late morning, a poolside visit. There are some times when working the night shift is the best thing in the world. To complete my sweet summer day I swung by the deli counter at the local market before heading into work. When you work in a busy bar or restaurant, going somewhere that is not busy is about as good as it gets. Working weekends also means that I haven’t… Read More »

Backhanded compliments for alluring wine

‘WHAT DO YOU think of the (insert mass-produced wine name here)?” a man asked as he took a seat at the bar. The wine in question was the cheapest wine by the glass that we had. In fact, it was the absolute least-expensive option in the entire restaurant. It was so inexpensive that it actually cost less than most of our draft beers. Throw in the fact that it was also chardonnay — a varietal for which exceptional versions can run… Read More »

Barfly: Ode to the waning days of the lime

THE STORM CLOUDS are gathering on the horizon. The air of change hangs heavy, pregnant and far reaching. Things are going to change in the cocktail world, probably for good, and not necessarily for the better. The coming month will be one to remember, especially with Cinco de Mayo only four weeks away. Mark my words. In that time it’s going to happen something like this: Customer: “I’ll have a margarita on the rocks with salt.” Bartender: “What kind of… Read More »

Barfly: There is harm in asking if the request is out of line

HE ARRIVED EARLIER than most. He carefully selected a seat facing the TV, adjusting his position several times. He then sat down and ordered dinner, carefully and well planned. “In 10 minutes can you put the game on?” he asked politely. It seemed to be the beginning of a perfect evening. He, by virtue of good planning, had a perfect seat to watch the game and a perfect spot to eat his dinner. Because of the peculiarities of our little… Read More »

Barfly: ‘Be like water’ holds true for much in life

I NOTICED the couple immediately, but it wasn’t because of her chestnut eyes or his stylish suit. It was because both of them appeared to be in their early 20s. How early remained to be seen. In a busy bar, things don’t always break down to first come, first served. “Be like water,” Bruce Lee once said. And in the fluidic environs of a bar, truer words have never been spoken. Water follows the path of least resistance, and so,… Read More »

Complex order vs complex people

‘A BELVEDERE, dry, twist of lime, super cold; a Ketel One, wet, three olives; two Bombays, one on the rocks, one with a twist and one with a blue cheese-stuffed olive; a Makers Mark old-fashioned, no sugar, add extra bitters and a lemon; and a Don Julio,” the man said without taking a breath. “Are the vodkas up or on the rocks? And are the Bombays Sapphire or regular? And do you want the Don Julio neat?” I asked. He… Read More »

To agave, or not to agave

‘YOU KNOW WHAT you should do?” a man I had never seen before asked me, unsolicited I might add. “What’s that?” I said, looking around at the milling Wednesday night crowd that indicates a bar doing well. “You should use agave nectar in your margaritas.” “We have agave nectar if you want it.” “No,” he said. “You should use it in your house margaritas, it makes them better and it’s all natural too.” “OK.” He then looked at me, as… Read More »

Barfly: Mixologist or bar chef? What about just Bartender?

IT WAS ONE of those  social gatherings where everyone stands around holding a glass of white wine in one hand while simultaneously balancing a small plate of pasta salad and cocktail shrimp in the other. I  had done my best with the shrimp and had almost secured a mouthful of pasta salad when a woman asked me what I did for a living. “I bartend,” I said between sips of white wine. “Oh,” she said, her glass and plate in constant… Read More »

Holiday P.I.A.

8 p.m. on Friday night. The busiest time of the busiest night of the week. And this wasn’t just any Friday night; it was the busiest Friday in the busiest month of the year. In the time it took me to register those thoughts at least half a dozen people began waving their arms frantically, as if in that mere second they would expire of thirst. For many who deal with the general public, they understand the travails of dealing… Read More »

A room with a view, not so great on Sept. 11

Called in to work on a Tuesday morning. What a drag. One of the drawbacks of the restaurant business are the odd hours. Of course that is also one of its many advantages too. When you work in the highest grossing restaurant in the nation ($37 million) you are going to have to make some sacrifices. Especially if that restaurant is in one of the City’s most iconic landmarks. This particular Tuesday it is breakfast for a group of insurance… Read More »