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Behind the bar: An ode to bartenders

By APRILL BRANDON
Nov. 3, 2010 at 6:03 a.m.

Laura Tucker serves Pineapple Upside-Down Cake at Dodge City bar where she has worked for the past two months after bartending at most bars in Victoria for 14 years.

Recipes from Dodge City bartenders

Laura's '57 Chevy:

Quarter shot each of

Triple Sec

Vodka

Crown Royal

Amaretto

Southern Comfort

Grenadine

Fill the rest of the glass up with orange juice and mix well.

Pam's Ultimate Bloody Mary:

Fill a glass with ice

Add one ounce of vodka and a dash of salt, pepper and celery salt

Then add a dash of Tabasco sauce and Louisiana Hot Sauce

Add in small amounts of lime juice, olive juice and Worcestershire sauce

Fill the rest of the glass with tomato juice

Shake and pour into salted glass

Add a celery stick, olives and lime

They are the unsung heroes of Saturday night. They are the gatekeepers to a good time. They are the alchemists of alcohol.

They are your friendly, local bartenders and every night they work hard to make sure the rest of us can relax.

Unfortunately an often thankless job, I recently spent an evening interviewing and observing some bartenders from Dodge City to get their perspective from behind the bar. And from what I saw, with the multi-tasking, heavy-lifting, quick math skills and clever wit, bartending is far more than just pouring a couple of drinks.

And so I decided to tell one of their stories, that of Laura Tucker, 31, as a sort of ode to all the hard-working bar keeps out there. Naturally, I wanted to do this in the most appropriate format possible, which is to say I wrote it to the tune of Billy Joel's "Piano Man."

And so, without further ado...ahem...

It's five o'clock on a Thursday.

The regular crowd shuffles in.

There's a bartender standing in front of me.

Makin' drinks out of vodka and gin.

She says "Man, I've been doing this a long time

Fourteen long years to be exact

From bar to bar to now Dodge City on North Star

And it's the people that keep me coming back"

Oh la la la, di da da

La la, di di da da dum

Make us a drink, you're the bartender

Make us a strong one tonight

Well, we're all in the mood for a big bender

And you've got us feelin' all right.

Now Bob at the bar needs another beer

And Laura the bartender swoops in

She's quick with a joke as she pours a Jack and Coke

And throws your empties into the recycle bin

She says "I started this for the money

It helped me pay my way through school

I'm sure I'll get a job in my field someday

But for now this gig is pretty cool"

Oh la la la, di da da

La la, di di da da dum

Now Laura says she has seen it all

Husbands cheating on their wives

A man who proposed and was told emphatically no

And fights breaking out due to white lies

And at times she practices therapy

As customers use her to confide

Yes, they share their deepest and darkest secrets

And that it stays at the bar is implied

Make us a drink, you're the bartender

Make us a strong one tonight

Well, we're all in the mood for a big bender

And you've got us feelin' all right.

It's a pretty good crowd for a happy hour

And Laura looks over and smiles

'Cause she knows that it's her they've been comin' to see

To forget about their life for a while.

And the drinks, she keeps them a'comin'

Whether a shot of tequila or a beer

And they sit at the bar and fill up the tip jar

And say "Man, Laura we're so glad you're here."

Oh la la la, di da da

La la, dida da da dum

Make us a drink, you're the bartender

Make us a strong one tonight

Well, we're all in the mood for a big bender

And you've got us feelin' all right.

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