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Mar 3, 2013 06:36 PM

Bar staff practice: yea or nay?

This may have been discussed before on CH, but I'm not sure how to search for it so excuse me if it has.

We like to sit at the bar and eat at our favorite restaurants (we are in NYC). More and more I am seeing this practice: a service bartender will make a cocktail and when done mixing it, before putting it up for pickup by the wait person, sticks a straw in the drink, syphons off a sip or two (by putting a thumb over the end of the straw and capturing the liquid) and then tastes the cocktail. I assume this is for "quality control." Many times the server picking up the drink will do the same thing before serving it. Have others noticed this in whatever area you live in? What do you think of this? There really is no hygiene issue here; it's all done without the bartender putting his mouth anywhere near the drink. I guess it's like a chef with his tasting spoon, the biggest difference being the chef does his tasting in the privacy of the kitchen. Opinions?

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  1. Here's a pretty good discussion.

    I, myself, am ambivalent about it.

    3 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      Thanks for the link. It's very informative.

      1. re: ttoommyy

        I have no problems with the bartender sampling my cocktail, but I find it a bit redundant if the server does the same. Unlike you, I don't think I've ever seen a server take a sample.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          I think the server tasting the drinks might be to differentiate drinks that look alike, etc. if the bartender is not readily available to advise which is which. We go to some pretty well-known, respected and high end restaurants here in NYC and have seen this happen pretty regularly. Like I said before though, I don't have a problem with it at all.

    2. I have never seen this.

      1. No issue AT ALL.

        The bartender checks the quality of the drink he/she is making.

        Cooks in the kitchen do the same thing, they always taste the food (mostly sauces) to check if the seasoning is good and there are not flaws.

        1. In general - it all makes complete sense to taste. Particularly when it's a more involved cocktail with numerous ingredients.

          However, I do think that there is something that would strike me as odd and similar to someone "eating off my plate" (or rather glass). In the kitchen, I expect the chef to taste the soup from the pot - not from my bowl. So if such cocktail tasting occured from the shaker or where the drink was made - it would strike me as more of a direct correlation to the chef's tasting. Tasting out of the glass seems more like a spot check of a manager evaluating a bartender than a bartender actually altering a blended cocktail.

          1. I have seen servers "taste", I thought it was to "ID" the drink.