They should make a reality show about being a bartender in the Napa Valley.
You would not believe the things I’ve overheard at the bar, and the people I’ve seen.
First thing you notice is all the locals are the people eating early at the bar. Why? Two reasons: First, typically there is decent happy hour food, and second if they bring their own wine, usually winery owners are not charged corkage.
It is wonderful to grow up in an area that has more Michelin star restaurants per square mile than anywhere else in the world, but, it can get pricy if you just want to grab dinner after running errands all day. Thus, this frugality is understood. We don’t have too many mid-priced family restaurant chains in Napa so naturally you find the locals at the bar eating hamburgers with their own Merlot.
Then you see the younger tourists. They may be here on a date, or a bachelor party, or a girl’s weekend away. This is the tentative group. They are not as comfortable as their older counterparts in fine eateries and are maybe a bit star struck from the Food Network. (Interesting phenomenon the Food Network, huh? Chefs are now rock stars and restaurants like hot dance clubs.)
These hipsters order wine by the glass and something safe, like the pasta special. They are appreciative and energetic and joy to serve because, like a child, you can see your surroundings through their eyes. And, it is beautiful.
The older tourists are also fun, but there is a different vibe with them. These guys love peppering the Sommelier with recently learned tidbits from the day’s adventures. “What is the percentage of malo-lactic fermentation?” They are typically more adventurous with the menu, trying wild boar, sweetbreads or other local delicacies. They are living it up on vacation and not afraid to flaunt it.
But my favorite customer is still my Dad, a regular at the bar for a quick beer after work. Ready with a story or a smile and dodging my mom wants him to mow the lawn before dinner.
Who has a better job than me?