Alex Salter has been bartending for eight months at R2L, a swanky, fine dining establishment in Center City. He got into bartending because it’s a job that is easy to find almost anywhere – plus it’s a lot of fun, he said.
The Temple News: How did you learn to bartend?
Alex Salter: I went to bartending school in Allentown, Pa., and then from there I got a job at a restaurant and learned as I worked.
TTN: What is the scene like at R2L?
AS: It’s a pretty fine dining place. We usually get a lot of business clientele, so a lot of guys come during happy hour. On weekends we get some young professionals. It’s not a college bar. It’s a lot of upper class. We get regulars who live in the building. It’s like a restaurant bar.
TTN: How did you get the job at R2L?
AS: I pretty much stumbled into it. I was in Center City looking for a bartending job before school started. I stopped at one place that was supposed to be hiring, but they weren’t looking for anybody anymore, but they knew the manager at R2L was looking for someone. They gave me the directions. I talked to the managers [at R2L], and I was actually hired before I left that day.
TTN: What is the most difficult drink to make?
AS: Speculoos. It’s based off of a cookie.
TTN: What do you enjoy about bartending?
AS: I enjoy the creative part, like when people come in and don’t know what they want, and you go through the process of what they like. Then making them a drink they really enjoy.
TTN: What do you dislike about bartending?
AS: The people are jerks. It’s mainly the people that have never worked in the service industry and expect you to wait on them like a butler.
TTN: What are some examples of bartender lingo?
AS: “Shakin’” is when you see a bartender put a martini or a margarita in the shaker, and they shake it. “Up” is when the drink is poured into a stemmed martini glass. “On the rocks” is on ice. “Jigger” is a measuring tool. If you jigger a drink, you’re measuring out the proportions of the liquor.
TTN: What is your craziest story dealing with a customer?
AS: New Year’s Eve. We had this guy throw a fit because we stopped serving him after two [drinks], and he freaked out and started cursing at everybody and throwing chairs across the room. We couldn’t really do anything. We just kept saying, “OK sir, I’m sorry you’re going to have to leave now.” The manager made sure he didn’t get too out of hand.
TTN: If you could bartend anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
AS: On a cruise ship, because you probably get a lot of the same clients but changing crowd. You get to travel around the world. You probably also make pretty good money, I imagine.
TTN: How long do you plan on bartending?
AS: Bartending will be what I keep doing until I get a “big person job.”
TTN: Does your family support your bartending?
AS: My family was really behind me getting my license and everything like that. They thought it was a good idea, and they really liked that it gave me something to fall back on in college.
TTN: What have you learned from bartending?
AS: It’s definitely humbled me. You get to see a lot of powerful people. A district attorney comes in to eat on a regular basis. The Flyers and Eagles come to eat. A lot of people can be jerks, and then you have other people who are just well off. Some of them are actually decent people and nice guys.
Rebecca Zoll can be reached at email@example.com.