News & Politics

Behind the Bar at Hank Dietle’s Tavern

Chris Allen on why he likes his job, but can't always predict the good tippers

Photograph by Chris Leaman

For our Great Bars 2011 package, we talked with some of Washington's veteran tapmasters and cocktail makers to see what life is like on the other side of the bar.  

Pet peeves: “Number one is drinking and driving. I cut people off all the time. And fighting—if you fight here, you’re barred for life.”

Why you like bartending: “We have eight or ten stools at the bar. You can go down the bar and you have a drywall guy, an auto mechanic, an investment broker, a car salesman. We get such a wide range of people, and everybody gets along. That’s what makes it such a nice room.”

In your fridge at home: “Miller High Life and Miller Lite.”

On predicting who’s going to be a good tipper: “It absolutely doesn’t depend on what they’re dressed like. I have regular working guys that tip nice and guys that pull up in Porsches that don’t tip anything.”

Memorable confessions: “You hear a lot of relationship stuff. You get the sad stuff. When you’re a bartender, you see people at their best and at their worst. I think the key is being a good listener. But if I gave you details, I wouldn’t be a very good bartender.”

Favorite bars other than Dietle’s: “Outta the Way Cafe and J.J. Muldoon’s. Both of those bars have been around a long time. What I look for in a bar is nice people.”

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