St. Pat’s in Five Points is for most festivalgoers a place to let loose, drink and have fun.
As an attendee, you might rock a pair of shamrock shades, hit the music stages and try not to let the girl in the green tutu standing next to you spill her beer on your shoes.
For bartenders tasked with serving the masses, the day can be little dicier.
“There’s a lot of prep for the craziness that is St. Pat’s,” Yesterday’s server Alexander Barnes said.
Saturday will be Barnes’ fifth year working the festival, a day he says is the restaurant’s busiest of the year. Shifts start early and end late. Extra beer and liquor are stocked, extra lemons and limes cut. And servers gird themselves for the occasional bad behavior from customers.
“When I was working the door my first year, I saw a very, very drunk guy walk up and hug a police officer, asking him if he knew where his friends were. He was immediately handcuffed,” Barnes said. “Another year, a girl snatched my water pitcher and ran off with it. I guess she was thirsty.”
It’s a fun and exciting day, but you’re dealing with a lot of really drunk people. We call it ‘Amateur Hour.’
Group Therapy bartender Maureen Connell
Brent Wilkinson used to work at Harper’s during St. Pat’s, where he said lines for the restrooms would stretch through the restaurant and out the front door. “Women were getting in fights in the bathroom line; we had to hire bouncers,” he said.
Now a bartender at Bar None, Wilkinson said the key to making it through the festival is a positive attitude.
“I love St. Patrick’s Day, but a lot of my co-workers don’t. The first few years, you’re excited; then you get a little longer in tooth and start to dread it.”
At least there’s a silver lining: The tips are good.
“My favorite thing about St. Pat’s is the tips,” said Salty Nut bartender Mark Causey, an 11-year St. Pat’s veteran. “It’s a long day, but it’s fun. It’s not as bad as you think.”
Maureen Connell at Group Therapy said the festival for bartenders is a “love-hate relationship.”
“It’s a fun and exciting day, but you’re dealing with a lot of really drunk people. We call it ‘Amateur Hour’,” she said. “People’s inhibitions are lowered. They’re doing what that angel on your shoulder usually tells you not to do.”
Like stealing bar mats and tip jars, or peeing and puking in public, she said, adding, “But those are outliers.”
For the most part, everyone enjoys themselves and goes home happy, Connell said.
If you do overindulge, however, she said a bloody mary is her surefire hangover cure.
And if you want to add an Irish twist?
“Crack a raw egg in it,” Connell advised. “That was my Irish grandmother’s trick.”