Logan R. Brouse, proprietor and mixologist of Logan’s Punch and Tacolicious, has run bars and clubs in Shanghai for over ten years. In between hangovers, he puts pen to paper in his column for That’s to record his pontifications on the drink industry.
“Abbreviation: Long word with, ironically, no obvious shorter alternative.” Mike Barfield
There is a great scene in the 1988 movie Cocktail, which depicts a fresh-faced Tom Cruise in the weeds getting reamed by drink order after drink order for stuff like Cuba Libres. He’s searching in his little book for Cuba Libre and realizes it a flush – why didn’t you just call it a Rum & Coke?
We have an esoteric language in the F&B industry, what with FOH, BOH, MOD’s or even the more metaphorical stuff like working behind the stick, a bartender’s handshake, dusties, dancing and monkey butt.
For those in the know, being ‘in the weeds’ means you’re swamped, you’re station is so full of tickets you might be overrun and then get the fear. The fear, dear readers, happens usually to a newer bartender or cook when they are so overwhelmed they can’t even do simple drinks because of the sea of orders in front of them.
‘FOH’ is just the front of house – that’s waiters, floor managers, captain, maitre d’s, runners, etc. ‘BOH’ is everyone that’s not on the floor – bartenders, chefs, line cooks, pastry teams, cleaning crew and, generally, the ones customers don’t come in direct contact with.
When someone asks who’s ‘behind the stick,’ that’s saying who’s bartending that night, because a bar traditionally has some wood elements. The ‘bartender’s handshake’ is usually a shot or Fernet-Branca or a Jameson. ‘Dusties’ are those bottles that look pretty but just sit on the back bar gathering dust because there is no use for them. ‘Monkey butt’ refers to chaffing, and you should be able to pick up the drift on it past that.
Logan receives an unorthodox ‘bartender’s handshake’
Thing’s you’ll see in a restaurant or bar are staff lineups, tills, POS, Tinder dates, service bars, the pass, jiggers, shakers and bar spoons.
‘Staff line ups’ are the meetings you sometimes catch of the staff before lunch or dinner service has begun. Usually, all the staff will be lined up and the MOD will go over all the news of the day including reservations, what’s 86’d (meaning sold out), and what dishes or drinks to push.
‘Tills’ just refer to the cash register, and the POS usually can refer to that orange or red phone looking thing that take Alipay, WeChat and credit cards from your table.
‘Tinder dates’ don’t just refer to actual tinder dates, but any couple that looks uncomfortable, as if they are on a first date. Trust me, we see you guys from behind the bar.
The ‘service bar’ is sometimes a different section or area that just takes drinks from the floor staff, while the main bar will take drink orders from the people sitting at the bar. Sometimes a venue isn’t big enough for a separate bar, so a lot of times you’ll just see a service bartender who just works off of the tickets coming in whereas the other bartenders are taking orders from customers and making those. You’ll have a ‘barback’ behind them doing restocking of bottles, juices and cutting fruits.
‘The pass’ refers to the area where, for some reason, customers love to sit at all the time. The pass is where, if it’s an open kitchen, all the food is passed from the chef to the waitstaff. In the bar, it’s the same kind of thing. We generally don’t want people crowding that area because it’s hard to get food and drink out that way.
Bar spoons, jiggers and shakers are all tools of bartenders to make your drinks. ‘Jiggers’ refers to small cup-like measuring devices that go from 5ml to 60ml, and not to a Jay Z song. ‘Bar spoons’ are those long twisted metal rods with little spoons attached to them, and ‘shakers’ come in a variety of styles. There’s the Milano, The Boston and Shakira. Milano has three screw on pieces, a middle and a top, a Boston shaker usually looks like a pint glass and a metal bottom half. A Shakira’s hips don’t lie.
You’ll also hear the word “behind” a lot if you are sitting at the bar or restaurant with an open kitchen – that means that someone is walking behind someone else. With all the people moving about when it’s a packed night, it’s good manners to say “behind” so a chef or waiters doesn’t spill their order when they turn too fast.
Then there are the simple ones like ‘rocks’ for ice, ‘neat’ for no ice, ‘dry’ for non-sweet or, in terms of a martini, less to zero ‘mouth.’ There is ‘the line’ – that is the order the tickets come in and the order the staff will generally fulfill them, unless they need to be fired ASAP, ‘fired’ meaning make this one first because there was some kind of goof-up, and the customer didn’t get the right order or their order at all.
Working in F&B has a different language that we use to express ourselves. And with that I’ll leave you with this thought, “What if soy milk is just regular milk introducing itself in Spanish.”
Till next time!
See more of Logan’s columns here.