They use us, then they lose us. This weekend, A- (also B-, C-, and D-) list celebrities will descend upon our fair city in droves for the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner and related parties, then disappear as quickly as they arrived. Once the pretty people are gone, it's our hardworking locals who will have to roll up the red carpets and repolish the ice buckets. Steve Oshana--who recently took on the role of beverage director at the forthcoming Quench in Rockville--won't be clocking in this year to service the celebs. He says he had his fill of that last year, when he was in the employ of the Jefferson Hotel.
"I don't own a television and so I don't know who celebrities are," he explains. "Managers had to come by and tell me who was who." This fact handicapped him at the Jefferson--which, according to the beverage pro, has a very clear VIP policy when it comes to celebs: Drop everything for them. But that's easier said then done when you have a full bar and the room service attendant has the night off.
Here, Oshana's star-studded account* of his worst shift ever, which occurred on the eve of the White House Correspondents' Dinner in 2011.
Jamie MacBain has a pretty classy gig over at the lounge at Bourbon Steak, Michael Mina's restaurant in Georgetown's Four Seasons. Make that two classy gigs--he also does a weekly shift at the Passenger. In his younger years, however, he put in some time slinging beers to college kids in Worcester, Massachusetts. In honor of St. Patrick's Day this weekend, MacBain shared the story of his worst shift ever, which happened to go down on one of the drunkest days of the year.
"It was my first bartending job, and it was St. Patrick's Day. It was at this steakhouse, Cactus Pete's Steakhouse & Saloon. One side was a steakhouse and on the other side was a bar separated by swinging saloon doors. Worcester loves its St. Patrick's Day. The parade would go by the restaurant and we'd take out all the stools; all the bar tables would come out. We opened at 10 AM. So it's, like, 2 PM, and the parade has gone by already. We're packed, and we have police on the exit and entrance on either side. It's standing room only--some of the people have been there since 10. And this fight breaks out at my end of the bar.
JP Caceres poses at Dirty Martini. The Dupont bar is a current client of his cocktail consultancy business. Photograph by Erik Uecke.
“I went to law school, I worked at a desk. It was not for me,” says JP Caceres, a Derek Brown acolyte who owns the Washington-based cocktail consulting business Let’s Imbibe Beverage Consulting.
The Bolivian bartender’s chosen career began when he took a busboy job at Jaleo in the early 2000s. There, he worked his way up while learning English, and when owner José Andrés opened Zaytinya, Caceres moved over to the Penn Quarter restaurant as a barback and service bartender.
It was there that he had his worst shift ever.
“I had worked at Zaytinya for about three months when a club opened up around the corner called VIP. All the pretty boys and all the pretty girls would come very nicely dressed for the club, but they wanted to have dinner or drinks first. And on this particular Saturday, we had a little bit of people coming in. It wasn’t too much. Everybody working was just looking at each other like, ‘What else do we do? What else do we clean?’ And the managers, they said to us, ‘We’re going to get busy.’ And we were like, ‘No we’re not. It’s six o’clock.’ So the manager decided to send a couple of bartenders home. Around like 9:30, 10, people start coming in. We’d never seen the restaurant like that! And by 11 o’clock—I don’t have to tell you—it was four deep at the bar. Crazy.