Here at Style Weekly I get emails and letters from readers from time to time. Most are just hate-filled missives complaining about my punctuation skills or death threats in which each letter is carefully snipped from magazines and pasted onto the page in a creative, stalkerlike jambalaya. But sometimes people will ask hard-hitting questions, because obviously I'm a respected authority in most matters (involving John Mayer or "The Hunger Games"). Here are a few excerpts:
Jack, I want to be a bartender in Richmond. How do I get started? Any advice?
A good bar gig isn't easy to come by in Richmond and simply beating the streets while handing out résumés won't get the job done. Being a hot girl and having boobs helps immensely, but for the other 99 percent, I recommend frequenting the bars in which you desire employment and simply becoming an awesome regular. Befriend everyone, tip well and don't overtalk. In a word — a word I hate — you must network. Chat with the right people and make your interest clear. If you're not a socially inept goober, it will work over time.
One thing I don't recommend is bartending school. Sure, you'll learn the finer arts of making a flying purple potato masher bomb and other never-ordered cocktails, but it can't replace on-the-job training — and it can't replicate experience.
Find a gig at a mom-and-pop place on the South Side and slog through a year of making 35 bucks a night. Learn everything you can and then go out and hit the industry bars after work. Make new friends. As with landing any worthwhile job, it's all about who you know. And in some cases, blow.
Jack, I just landed a first date with this new girl I'm into, but I don't want to take her to my regular haunts where all my friends will be gawking. Any suggestions on some romantic spots for an after-dinner drink?
As everyone can attest, Richmond is the smallest big city in the world. With our Kentucky-like levels of incestuousness, it can be a real task to find a special someone who hasn't already dated your friends, the bartender and Jorge the dishwasher. So find a hole in the wall and get this new special someone the hell out of Dodge. Go to the outer boroughs. Hell, go to Goochland. Chester. Incest has a slightly different, more literal meaning out that way anyhow.
Jack, My company just came out with a new flavored vodka/cherry bourbon/abomination against God. Will you write about it?
No. Send me a bottle or fly me to the distillery and put me up in a five-star. Then we can talk. I'll whore anything if the price is right. Otherwise, stop polluting my back bar with your horrendous crap. The proliferation of flavored liquors is the bane of the drinking classes. Bubblegum-flavored vodka was made with the preteen set in mind and none of your propaganda can convince me otherwise.
Jack, How can I tell if the bartender really likes me or is just trying to get a good tip?
If it's a she, then she doesn't like you. Don't even bother. She's playing you like a fiddle for those dollar bills. You can flirt with the bartender all you want, but in the end this is a job and we're here to make our rent, not have you attempt to be smooth and write your number on the tab like a third-grader passing a note with checkboxes on it. If you really like a bartender, just sack up and tell her. See, that wasn't hard. Look at you — you're all growns up!
Jack, The other weekend I got drunk and basically acted like an ass at one of my favorite bars, and the staff kicked me out. I want to go back but I'm embarrassed. How should I make amends?
Ask my lifelong best friend Jay Pritchard (@jaycocks). I kick him out all the time. But he always manages to worm his way back in.
Have a question for Richmond bartender Jack Lauterback's mailbag? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Jack also serves as co-host on "River Mornings with Melissa and Jack" weekdays from 6-9 a.m. on 103.7 The River. On Twitter @Jackgoesforth.