When I first started this business, I heard a lot of stories about the name Betty. There are the obvious - Betty Crocker, Betty from the Archie comics, Bette Davis. The name, the logo, the concept always seem to trigger an intense response.
At parties there is almost always one woman who snubs her nose at my business. I'm not sure why; perhaps she thinks this is no place for a woman, or maybe I laugh too loud, or I flirt too much. But for every one woman like that there are ten more smiling, praising, encouraging, cheerleading women. These are the women that tell me stories of the Betty they know.
Did you know that on the beach in California, a Betty is a kind, sweet, charismatic, female surfer? And who could forget the time I met a sweet 10 year old at a party who's name was, yep, you guessed it. Betty! Her parents encouraged me to go talk to her. She exclaimed the disdain for her name - stating it was for "old people." OLD PEOPLE!! Can you imagine? Cautiously, and fearful of the answer, I looked her in the eye and asked her if she thought I was old. She laughed and (fortunately for both of us), said I did not look that old. We swapped stories and she had no idea that being a Betty was such a compliment in California. I couldn't believe Betty White hadn't been on my radar after all these years.
And so, after all these years of being regaled with Betty stories, "being a Betty" became some kind of verb or adjective that I live by. It simply means to be a better person in whatever capacity is available to you. Be kind. Be smart. Roll with the punches. Try something new. Care about your neighbor. And all people. And animals. And the planet. Do what you can. Offer to help. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Express gratitude. Know you are worthy of love.
Well, why would you not want to do all of this all the time? Be. A. Betty. Everyday. And drink like a B.A.B.E.
Jorge Herrera, Up On Knox, Georgie
Porfirio "Pro" Contreras, Tate's Dallas
This is the only way to stock the tremendous wall of whiskey at Tate's. Pro is an OG in every sense of the phrase. I can still clearly remember the first time I met him. I was new to the area and really into Japanese whiskey. It was whiskey Wednesday and there were just a few too many guests at the bar top for him to chat with everyone. The guy next to me, reading his Kindle, lived at the apartments across the road and Pro introduced us. We quickly struck up a conversation and since the guy was there first, our drinking speed was off by half a drink, causing both of us to stay for "just one more" about 2 extra times!
Where are you from?
But really, where are you from?
I grew up in Oak Cliff until middle school and then I finished high school in The Colony... Culture shock! I went from being in a predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhood to a white neighborhood. This was probably in the early 90's.
What cocktail are you making today?
I can make anything? *eyes wide open* *eyebrows arched with excitement* Sidecar! *dramatic pause* *proceeds to walk the bar like he's producing an infomercial* We're going to use Remy Martin 1738, Cointreau, fresh lime juice - that's what makes it different. And we're going to use a brown sugar and cinnamon on the rim. That's going to give it something special.
Who is the non-bartender rendition of you?
I'm daddy. Family man. That's it. Everything I do is for my kids and my family. They really changed my life around. If I didn't have them I don't know where I would be.
Can you make me laugh?
Me?? *makes a ridiculous face* I just did!!
Can we do this again?
Pro is a guy that will have regulars until the day he hangs up his bar key. He's never met a stranger and he finds a way to connect with people with astonishing ease. Don't be fooled by his tough, tatted image. He's got a tremendous heart and would do anything to help a friend, even a friend that's just a cocktail waitress.
Joe Shirghio, Bowen House Dallas
Who makes the best bar guest?
Their name? Or what kind of person? Um…. Wow… *blinks* *blinks again* *looks up at the sky* This is a really hard question. I would say the perfect bar guest is someone who knows and is confident in what they want but also willing to engage and discuss their beverage. I don’t’ really need someone that talks a lot. Just have a good time.
….and talk to your neighbors.
….and stay off the phone.
Why does everybody love Joe? To be honest, it's impossible to not love Joe. He's honest and hard-working. He's a master of hospitality, probably improving to a dangerously fierce degree after working with one of the most hospitable bar owners in Dallas, Pasha Heidari, for half a decade. He's a cocktail genius with an affinity for vermouth and botanically based flavors. And he's never met a stranger.
Rosey Sullivan, Armoury D.E.
Rosey gives us purposeful answers that are thoughtfully articulated and paint a picture about her past and present. But, if you're ever in a one on one conversation with Rosey you will totally adore her sensitive gazes, hilarious pauses, and ability to quickly smile when she's entertained by something. If you're fortunate enough to visit Armoury when she's behind the bar and the crowd isn't three deep be sure to ask for one of her bespoke cocktails.
Stephanie Kennedy, Oak Cliff Social Club
Tiffany Powell, Boulevardier
Tiffany is probably one of the most straight-forward and earnestly chatty bartenders we know. She's quick to laugh, easy to engage, and constantly has her head on a swivel. And, who doesn't love someone who sees their job as a bartender as an opportunity to help get someone laid!
I approached six Dallas bartenders with the intention of finding out what makes them tick, learning more about who they are when we're not bellied up to their bars, basically getting them to spill the tea, in our world, a martini. The criteria was not complicated. They needed to have a real life (some were not certain they did), bartend at their current location at least one year, make me a martini, give up the recipe, and allow me to take two photos of them - one as they work in their current establishment, and one as they do anything but work in their current establishment.
The questions are simple, painfully simple, and even redundant. But, if you've ever worked a day behind the bar, you know that the questions of patrons are painfully simple and redundant. That's why these interviews give us such a cool insight into the hearts and souls of some of Dallas' best bartenders.
So what happens if we ignore their words, and start listening to their face, their gestures, their words in between their words? We can all agree that the majority of communication is non-verbal, with some experts attributing as much as 93% of communication to body language and tone of voice, leaving only 7% to actual words. And this makes a lot of sense if you think about the success of a bartender in an often loud and fast paced environment.
The results are fantastic. As I re-read each interview, I smile, thinking about the interaction with each bartender. And I know that guests at their bar will get that same kind of interaction. It's why these bartenders have been at their current location for over a year, some of them close to a decade!
My challenge to you: look for the meta-communication!
And I didn't think about it this way in the beginning. But, as I look over these words and these exchanges, I suddenly realize something! Each of these bartenders is a Betty! A Betty (by a broad definition) is honest and brave, loyal and nurturing, witty and fun. She's balanced, quirky, open-minded, complex, and flawed. She's soulful and driven. And I think there's a little Betty in all of us.
Stay tuned for the conclusion where I'll include out-takes and feedback from blog-readers, bar patrons, and fellow bartenders!
A Betty (by a broad definition) is honest and brave, loyal and nurturing, witty and fun. She's balanced, quirky, open-minded, complex, and flawed. She's soulful and driven. And I think there's a little Betty in all of us.