Ask A Bartender: Crazy New Year's Eve Stories

Ask a Bartender

You ask, they answer.


Brandon Lockman of Red Star Tavern in Portland

While plenty of holidays bring out lively crowds, nothing tops New Year's Eve for alcohol-fueled shenanigans. And the bartenders on-duty that night see it all. We asked bartenders around the country for their favorite New Year's Eve stories; here's what they had to say.


Ergys Dizdari from Filini Bar and Restaurant in Chicago

"A few years ago, on New Year's Eve, I had a lady from Florida that had never seen snow start rolling on the snow outside of the bar and loving it." — Ergys Dizdari (Filini Bar and Restaurant)

"In New York, guys smashed car windshields outside our bar. An odd way to ring in the New Year." — Erik Sorensen (Freddy Smalls)

"People do everything on New Year's Eve and part of what we do is keep those secrets! ;)" — Lauren Lathrop Williams (Jsix Restaurant)

"Last year we created a Fernet layback train that went all the way down the bar. It was only 10:00 p.m. It felt like doing the wave at a baseball game. That's what happens when you have a speed pourer and the Fernet is $5!" — Chris Amirault (The Eveleigh)

"One year after midnight a women walked in, quite tipsy, and asked, 'Is the kitchen still open?' 'I'm sorry, no,'  I replied. 'But if you go to the corner and make a left there is a bar called Sam's. Tell them Tommy sent you and they'll take care of you.' She left. Fifteen minutes later I see the same women standing at my bar proclaiming 'Tommy sent me, he said you'd take care of me!'" — Thomas Gebbia (Thistle Hill Tavern)


Jaime Pait from E&O Asian Kitchen in San Francisco

"A drunk regular climbed over the bar and helped me with inventory. Then we went out for pancakes." — Jaime Pait (E&O Asian Kitchen)

"The worst I've dealt with is when I served a girl a shot and she returned it immediately from her mouth. It happened so fast and went all over." — Jen Queen (Saltbox Dining & Drinking)

"Last year, a young woman walked in from the from the street. Well, walk is a stretch, more of a Bambi stumble. She asked the other bartender to close her tab. When the bartender reminded her that she had nly been in our bar for 25 seconds, and this had no tab, she started to shout. 'This is why I f*ing hate Queens!.' Guess how Queens feels about you, sweetheart." — Dan Bronson (The Strand Smokehouse & Crescent & Vine)

"There was an older gentleman from Australia who was convinced he was Austin Powers after several beers. He did a pretty good impression as he quoted the movies and danced around the bar." — Kris Doyle (Trattoria Neapolis)

"I popped a bottle of Dom Perignon and it started to foam over! I started to freak out and then all of a sudden it stopped—minimal Champagne lost (crisis averted)! Luckily the guest was looking the other way. It was his party's second bottle and they barely drank any of it. It ended up being a nice little end-of-shift gift." — Brandon Lockman (Red Star Tavern)

20131218-bartender-Dave Ellis.JPG

Dave Ellis of FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar in Bloomington, MN

"New Year's Eve, I affectionately refer to as 'amateur night,' right up there with St. Paddy's Day, Cinco de Mayo, and the rest. It usually leads to a host of bad ideas including, but not limited to, vomiting, breaking glassware, and being that guy passed out on the bar before the countdown has even started." — Dave Ellis (FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar)

"It would have to be last New Year's, when I worked a bizarre rave event in Williamsburg. The guy who was throwing the event, decked out in a Willy Wonka outfit, refused to pay the bar staff at 6 a.m., after promising us $300 each and working us for about 13 hours." — Jim Kearns (PLAY)

"I once had a regular, who was often cantankerous, become very endearing after a few drinks. He had myself and a few servers go outside as he proceeded to rhapsodize about the moon. He even made us go inside and come back out with something to toast the moon with. It was absurd. The bar was *packed*." — Kevin Thurston (Snack EOS)

"A few years ago, I was out with a bunch of friends celebrating the New Year, we were walking down the street to our next destination when one of our friends (who had one too many cocktails) fell suddenly to the floor, grabbed his leg and started screaming that his leg was broken. His wife, very worried about him, took him home. The next day we all met for brunch, for Bloody Marys and to retell the stories of the previous night. We asked him how his leg was dong. He responded very seriously, 'Why are you asking? What happened to my leg last night?'" — Juan Coronado (The Bazaar by Jose Andres at SLS Hotel South Beach)

So many drinks, so little time. Keep in the loop on Twitter, or sign up for our weekly newsletter.