Sacramento Bar Crawl

•January 5, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Saturday afternoon my brother, his fiance and I drove up to Sacramento to take a detour on our way to Tahoe.  We met up with a friend and decided to go check out some bars.

It was my first time checking out the bar scene in Sacramento and I can say I’m quite impressed.

Our first stop was Bottle & Barlow on R Street ran by Jayson Wilde.  We headed in and the place is pretty damn beautiful inside.  A very clean bar top (with very little on it except bitters bottles) and seamless back bar.  There were some great seating options; the bar, a few tables and a mezzanine which over looks the bar.  Jayson and Russell have done a phenomenal job with the cocktails too.  They’re all $9 and we basically worked our way through the whole menu.  My personal favorite was the Midnight Special (Scotch, Sherry, Cardamom, Apple and Brown Sugar).  The garnish was quite surprising, a lemon twist, but a pickled onion that offset the sweetness in the cocktail, really amazing.  Jayson and Russell gave us great service as always, showed us around the bar as well as the Barbershop that’s attached.

The Barbershop is beautiful as well and really detailed.  The place is appointment only, but when you come in and get a cut or a shave, you get a cocktail or a beer while you’re getting lined up.  Both places are all about service and experience, both of which are really unique.

After a few cocktails and a mind eraser, we headed over to Shady Lady where live music was playing and the bar was packed.  Neil Diamond covers were being played and people were dancing.  A really great vibe with some great cocktails.

Just like Bottle & Barlow, we drank our way through most of the drinks, Breakfast (Cognac, King’s Ginger, Montenegro) being my favorite.  It really amazes me how all the cocktails in Sacramento are $9 per drink, tax included.  $36 for 4 people to drink?!  That’s insane compared to S.F., it would be $60 bucks for 4 people normally with tax and S.F. Heath added in.

Since we had to be up really early the next morning, we went to Red Rabbit since it was on the way home.  We ordered some food and a few cocktails each.  I went with the Ex-Wife (Scotch, Cynar, Angostura Bitters and Orange Bitters).  Smokey, bitter and citrusy, just what I wanted to end my night on.

I find myself drinking more Cognac and Scotch cocktails these days.  They’re both quite challenging to mix with sometimes so I like seeing what other people can do with it.

Sacramento really impressed me.  There’s a lot of talent up North and it’s such a quick drive from the Bay Area.  I can definitely see myself coming up here a lot more to see more of the bar scene and I highly recommend you do too.


  • Photo from the Sacramento Bee

Saving For Your Future Part 3

•December 31, 2015 • Leave a Comment

So if you haven’t read my last 2 posts on savings, you may want to go back and read them….go ahead I’ll wait.

We have been talking about savings, 401K plans, etc.  The point of these posts if that I want you to be able to save…..I want my friends, family and people I have never met before to be successful.  Remember though, any investments you personally do is on you and not on me….I’m not personally investing or planning for you and I’m not touching your money, I’m not licensed to.

Now that we have that out of the way….so let’s say you don’t have a 401K to put money in, but you should hopefully have a checking and savings account.  If you have those, then you have the basics to get started to save and pay monthly, daily bills, etc.

Now lets look into stock possibilities or stock plans. There’s various companies that will allow you to open a stock account, for example: Charles Schwab, ING, E-Trade, Fidelity, etc.  They may charge you a fee to trade stocks, like Schwab is $8 a trade.  These accounts can be great if you want to play with your hard earned money to make more money.  This is called “make your money work for you”, but that’s also if you make money in the market (which has been volatile recently due to oil prices and foreign markets).  There are some different stock accounts to look into: I use a IRA Roth and a Money Market account.

A Roth IRA is straight-forward.  Money that you put into it is pre-taxed (taxed before it goes into your account) and you can start withdrawing out of it at age 59 and there’s no mandatory time to take money out.  There are certain restrictions where you can withdraw without penalties (say to buy a house which is up to $10,000), but you will have to pay it back, possibly with interest (on Traditional IRA).  Traditional Roth’s are tax free when you put money in, but are taxed when money is withdrawn (think capital gains).  Traditional Roth plans are also required to take cash out at age 70 1/2 which means you’ll be taxed at 70 1/2 until you die.  I like Roth IRA’s because I’m young….I can work a lot and put away more money a month.  When I’m retirement age my tax bracket might be higher (which means higher income tax) and most likely we (Generation X & Y) won’t get Social Security so I’d rather have more money all ready taxed when I’m older.

Both accounts let you put in $5,500 a year before maxing out the account.  I try to max out every year if possible.  A IRA Roth doesn’t offer taxable deductions a year, but is tax free when removed at age 59.  A Traditional Roth is tax deductible on the year invested, but is taxed as normal income when removed.  Now in most cases you need $2,000 to open an account, but after you have those accounts started you can invest as little or as much as you want.  IRA Roth’s and Traditional IRA’s have limits but Money Market accounts do not.

A Money Market is what I use to invest in stocks.  I can invest, reinvest or sell as much as I want.  The great thing about this is I can buy and sell as much as I want (with fees) but if I have an emergency, I can sell a stock to take the money to pay for that emergency.  Remember….anytime you make money off a stock you sell, you have to pay taxes.  This is called Capitol Gains (think of it like getting a paycheck taxed).  If you like, you can even let you money sit in it if you don’t want to invest, you’ll just make interest on your money based off of the current interest rates (which in most cases is more than the .01% or .03% you bank pays).  For example, Bank of America’s checking and savings give .01% interest, but their Rewards Savings gives .03%.  If you look at Charles Schwab High Yield Savings Account, they pay .10% interest on your money.  So definitely some things to think about.

Look into some of your options.  Find out which company works for you.  You don’t have to “make it work” for you, there’s plenty of options out there that are right for you.  Remember, you work hard for you money, so make your money work for you.

Saving For Your Future Part 2

•December 27, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Now last blog post I was talking about savings and 401K’s and IRA Roth’s, blah blah which may have gone in one ear and out the other.  If I can I will try to simplify things.

So you have decided you want to save some money, whether it’s a small or large sum, it’s savings none the less and you should be proud and excited you want to make the next step.

What’s next is what to do with your money.  Well hopefully you’ve had a checking or a savings account at a major bank, small bank, credit union or a brokerage.  There’s lots of possibilities if you don’t have one, they’re extremely easy to set up.

I personally use my checking account for bills and everyday expenses, but I limit what I spend.  I use a savings account to use as emergency savings in case I lose my job or am put out of work for awhile.  I try to make sure I have 6 months worth of savings for rent, food, etc in my savings before I put cash anywhere else.

Now ideally you want to be able to pay yourself (which you should always do) and be able to pay bills at the same time.  Now if you can and if your company offers it, put part of your money in a 401K.

A 401K is basically a savings account that your workplace offers you, where you can put your hard earned money (sometimes matched by your employer) before taxes are taken out.  Your money will be taxed when it is taken out because it will be considered income at the time, but if left in long enough, your account will grow and build interest tax free (I.E. don’t have to pay capital gains on it).  If your employer matches it, it’s basically increasing your savings rate.  The biggest thing to take away from this is that you’re actively saving and that’s a good thing.

Look into whether or not your company has a 401K, sometimes companies won’t exactly tell you they have one, because it will cost them more money if they match.  Don’t be scared to ask, it’s your future, so be proactive about it.

Saving For Your Future

•December 21, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Being in the service industry you get to meet a lot of people from all walks of life.  Some of the men and women you work with come to be some of your closest friends. We all want to be successful and I for one always want to see my friend succeed and help them in whatever way I can.

Talking with my friends and co-workers the past few years I have noticed one thing that concerns me: little to no savings.

We work in an industry where we make a daily wage with an added bonus being tips.  Some of us walk with tips on a daily basis, some of us have to wait for it to show up in the form of a paper check or a direct deposit.  Granted we live in California and it’s expensive to live here, but in order to hopefully retire in the future, we need some form of savings because no one is looking after you, except you….

Some people say it’s hard to save money, but if you really boil things down and really look at what you spend your money on during the course of a month, there’s some areas you can save in.  Instead of going out to dinner or drinks for a night, put that money in your savings  account.  That could be $100 a week or $400 a month, or $4,800 a year.  Having emergency savings is always a great idea because you never know what may happen, but if you can also afford it, start a Roth Ira as well (which I will dive into later).

If you’re fortunate enough to have a 401K plan offered where you work, invest part of your check in the plan, especially if your company matches part of it.  I’m honestly so surprised at people who don’t invest in a matching 401K….it’s free money!  Your bosses want to give you extra cash!  401K’s are fairly simple.  Most companies have basic funds they automatically invest in for you, but if you really want to geek out, you can do you own research and invest yourself, it’s really up to you, it’s your money.  It’s pretty amazing to see how much you can really save in a year when you watch your funds and interest start to compound.

Now I won’t dive in too deep to things in this post, but I’ll most likely go deeper in a few future ones. I’d like to see and hear of more people being able to save.  Saving for your future, vacations, retirement, etc.  There’s ways to make it happen, it’s really just up to you planning on how it happens.

Bartending Saved My Life

•December 9, 2015 • Leave a Comment

When many of us were kids, no one really ever talked about anxiety and depression.  My parents, grandparents, etc never told me that it runs in our family. I still remember over hearing some of my friends parents saying that if you were a kid and had anxiety something was wrong with you, maybe they were right, what do I know.

All I know is that yes….I have depression, yes I also have severe social anxiety, both being diagnosed….not self diagnosed like a lot of horse shit these days.

I have lived with both of the above mentioned for most of my life, sometimes it can be quite crippling and there can be some really shitty days.

One thing that I can honestly say that has helped me keep these things in check:  Bartending.

I remember first bar backing when I was 19 and I never wanted to talk to people at the bar during service.  I pretended not to speak English sometimes or I wouldn’t even speak at all.  I remember one of my managers pulling me aside and literally telling me “if you don’t start talking to customers, we’re going to let you go”.

I didn’t really have any options, I didn’t want to go find another job.  I made good money for being 19 and being in college.  I actually started to talk to people….and really enjoyed it.  For some of you, you might say that’s so easy, but when it terrifies you to talk to new people, it’s not always an easy task.

The bar top feels like a safety barrier sometimes, no one can cross it (unless they’re super ballsy).  When behind it, you can do whatever you want, say what you want and engage with who you want.  Bartending really saved my life, it gave me a purpose and a passion.

I love bartending, it’s part of who I am.  I am able to be creative with drinks and ingredients.  When I used to look at guest interaction as a highly negative thing, I look at it as an absolute positive.  That person in front of you is from a different walk of life, from somewhere you have probably never been to, that has a story to tell.  Bartending gives you confidence, you’re in a career that so many people have wanted to be in or want to be in.

I look at where I am at now in my life and in my career and see that I am extremely lucky and fortunate.  Lucky to have the friends and family that I have.  Fortunate to work where I do and who I work with.  I’m so thankful that I got into bartending and that it truly helped to save me and shape me into who I am today.


Don’t be a Burn Out

•November 25, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Show of hands, who has ever been stressed and angry at work?  If you’re not raising your hand I guarantee you’re lying to yourself.  Stress can be a killer literally and figuratively, especially if you’re not taking care of yourself.

Stress shows up in so many aspects of our lives on a daily basis, it can be direct and personal or indirect.  Things can happen before you get to your shift behind the bar and screw your whole night up.  You could have a fight with your boyfriend or girlfriend, finals could be coming up at school, or even a death or illness in the family.  Deadlines might pop up at work, maybe you had 3 meetings in a row on a prep day and things didn’t get done and got pushed to another day.  It’s really up to you, how you deal with your stress and how you relieve it, hopefully in a positive way.

In our industry, if stress and anger build up over time without any relief, most likely it will lead to burning yourself out.  I’ve definitely been there before, trust me it’s not fun.  It’s just about along the same lines as a panic attack and nervous breakdown.  Letting every little thing get to you isn’t worth it.  The last thing you want to have happen as a creative person (which I think bartenders are), is a burn out.  It’s like writers block for a writer.  Adding stress in your life usually slows your creative thoughts and can impact your work and personal life.  The last thing one of your customers at your bar wants to see is a crotchety, pissed off bartender.  Most likely they won’t be your customer anymore and your money just walked out the door.

The only reason I really write about things like this, is that maybe it will reach some young bartender out there to accept the fact stress happens.  Everyone is affected by it, but there’s ways to make life less hectic.  It’s OK to get mad, it’s not a bad thing, it’s a normal human emotion.  Working behind a bar is meant to be fun!  You literally get to work with some of your best friends, be creative with cocktails and talk to random strangers from all walks of life.  I don’t know a lot of other careers that will give you the opportunities we have.

Learn to prioritize your life and your work (work/life balance).  Make checklists for things to accomplish, both on a short term (daily) and long basis.  For me getting back in the gym has been the best stress reliever out there.  Counseling also is another great resource, especially if you don’t want to feel like you’re burdening your friends or family (which you’re not) with issues you’re trying to overcome.  I’m not ashamed, but I’ve been talking with counselors for years and I think it’s extremely helpful.  Find what’s best for yourself, when you find your happy place, you’ll know it and appreciate life even more.

Treat Your Life Like A Cocktail

•November 18, 2015 • 1 Comment

Every cocktail you make as a bartender needs balance, but so does your life.  We put so much time, focus, energy and precision into what we do, that sometimes we forget to put the same energy into our lives away from the bar.

Bartending is great, don’t get me wrong, it’s something I’m passionate about.  I look at this not as a job, but as a career because I love what I do and I love the people I’ve met and worked with (both past and present).  I consider myself extremely lucky to be where I am at today.  I work in a great bar, have an amazing staff and I’ve been fortunate enough to travel around the world.  The one big thing that I never took into consideration though, was how to balance my personal life with my work life.

I have foolishly thought that I never worked that much or put in enough hours in the office.  I would push back deadlines in my personal life to accomplish things at work.  I was living to work and not working to live (as the old saying goes) and destroyed loving relationships and long friendships.  Basically, I focused so much on being successful at work that I wasn’t able to see my real life falling apart.

Now I’m sure most everyone in our industry is always busy; busy writing schedules, taking inventory, performing training’s, sitting in meeting’s and working behind the bar.  From what I have taken away the past year and a half is that you need to budget your time and your life like you do your checkbook (something I’ll get into another time).  What I have personally found is that getting a daily routine down has helped to balance things out.  Go to the gym, do yoga, read the paper, go on a walk with a loved one, just please for the love of God, don’t check your work email while barely awake in bed (better yet, take it off your phone).

I know I’m not the first person to talk about balancing work and life out, but I think it’s always something we as bartenders should always consider.  Just as physical health should always be important, mental health shouldn’t be thrown by the wayside.  Take some time, sit down and really think about what your doing.  Do you enjoy your time at work?  Are you able to shut off when your shift is over?  Make sure you can answer those two questions and be honest with yourself.  Love what you do at and away from the bar and love your life.

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