So You Want To Be A Waiter

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Tag Archives: Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel

Jack Daniels is not bourbon

Don’t ever forget that Jack Daniel’s, while tasting very similar to bourbon, is categorically not bourbon – it’s Tennessee whiskey. More precisely, “Tennessee sippin’ whiskey”.

First of all, it’s made in Tennessee, not Kentucky. Bourbon is named for a county in Kentucky where little bourbon is distilled today, but that doesn’t mean that bourbon can cross state lines. I mean, some try to do it and all, and legally it’s just a specific process with certain parameters, but is bourbon from Colorado really bourbon? C’mon people, let’s get real. If there is one state that could get away with it (and some of us have tried), it’s Tennessee. We are two states bound by a common heritage. If you look on a map, Kentucky looks similar to a pregnant Tennessee. Since we’ve been spooning since our births, this doesn’t seem out-of-place.

But Jack Daniel’s (and the other famous named-for-a-dead-guy Tennessee whiskey, George Dickel) is not, I repeat not bourbon, despite being made of sour mash just like bourbon. The key difference is that Tennessee whiskey is filtered through charcoal. Bourbon is not.

The last thing you want to do as a waiter is to upsell Jack Daniel’s products when someone asks for a bourbon drink. While some people think of it erroneously as a bourbon because, let’s face it folks, it does taste a lot like bourbon, there are some partisans who would cut out your heart and squeeze a few drops of blood out of it into a Manhattan if you lumped Jack Daniel’s in with bourbon (and this comes from both bourbon and Tennessee whiskey fans).

So, those of you young whippersnappers who are just getting started peddling the devil’s elixer, repeat after me -“Jack Daniel’s is Tennessee whiskey…Jack Daniel’s is Tennessee whiskey…Jack Daniel’s is Tennessee whiskey…”

I mean, you wouldn’t screw up and call Bushmill’s a scotch would you? I hope not.

Class dismissed.


A quick reminder about premium brands

We’ve been talking about wine, but if you aren’t asking a very easy question, you’re missing a big opportunity to upsell.

The question is, “Do you want (insert brand name here) or (insert premium brand name here)”?

In other words, When someone says, “I’ll take a gin and tonic please”, is at least your immediate question “Which gin is your favorite”?

Even better is, “Do you prefer Tanqueray or Bombay”? If they only want the cheap well brand, they’ll tell you. But by offering a choice, you make it easier to make the choice between the two options. This is an old sales principle.

If they say “Bombay”, you’ll then ask “Bombay or Bombay Sapphire”? If they say, “Oh yes, Sapphire”, you’ve just moved them up 2 price tiers. That’s usually an extra buck for each level. So now, you’ve just built your check by $2. Doesn’t sound like much unless you do that 6 times a week. That’s like an extra $600 table every year for asking a couple of simple questions. And sometimes the upsell can be as much as $4 or $5 if you move them from a well whiskey to something like Single Barrel Jack Daniels or a Woodford Reserve from a well bourbon. If you consistently upsell, you’ll makes hundreds of extra dollars a year.

I’ll be posting more on this at a later date, but basically, you need to learn which one of the “top shelf” brands are carried by your bar and then commit them to memory. It should almost be automatic and reflexive. If someone asks for a Cosmopolitan, the first thing out of your mouth should be something like, “Which vodka do you prefer, Absolut, Stoli, Belevedere…(letting voice trail off)? You should never “settle” for the well. But that doesn’t mean that you should be pushy or aggressive. Just let them remember how much they like Grey Goose instead of Popov.

Tanqueray Rangpur