At Lafitte’s, the bar was made of thick old bayou cypress planks polished by thousands of men leaning, cruising and drinking on it for over 45 years. Underneath these planks was a cheap burlap skirt and not much else hiding the jockey boxes and equipment. The bar was a large and amorphous island, open on three sides. In the center of the bar was a tree shelf of liquor—a rough triangle attached to 3 poles. Each bartender, working their stations, on each side this tree of liquor used it. This was the call liquor.
Making a drink required a pole dance. If the bottle we wanted wasn’t on our side of the bar, we’d reach for the pole and swing around to the other side, grabbing the neck of the liquor bottle—flexing our bodies and muscles as we moved. Then swing back to our station, releasing our grip on the pole, and in one fluid movement, arc the bottle through the air with the pour of the liquor down into the ice and the cup, simultaneously grabbing the soda gun to finish the cocktail. Then a quick straw and the drink appeared on the cocktail napkin. All done in seconds, and repeated all night long.
The liquor tree separated our stations, delineating territory. We were told a foot of bar space was worth $100 every 2 minutes. We all worked solo, yet matched each other’s energy and movements—all accentuated and dictated by the DJ and the heavy beat coming from the Klipsch speakers. Feeling it, aware of each other, maximizing the sexual energy of the bar and the effect on the guys in the bar.
At the first register, or the point, was Max, who’d bark “Whatcha want?” His station always rang up the most money. I was next to him at the second register. Being on the second register acted as a filter. Once you got past Max, and if you saw me and liked beefier guys, you’d hang around my register as the rest of the crowd flowed around. The third station was Jason, back by the fireplace. My register usually didn’t ring as much as the other two but I had changed that. Jason and I would always compete who would ring up the second most.
So, if you were at my station and I liked you I’d try and keep you. For a while, anyway. Catch and release. That didn’t mean I ignored any other guys or gave free drinks because I worked my ass off to get to this place. But I did have my favorites. Especially, if you were flirting with me.
But, to intrigue you, I wouldn’t try and keep you at my station or even at the bar all night, I’d want you to experience our world. I’d write a note on a cocktail napkin saying “take care of these guys” and send you out to the other bars. If you gave that note to certain bartenders they’d take care of you. I would send you on a treasure hunt, especially if you were sexy. After all I worked till 5am and wanted to keep you entertained till I got off shift. Some would come back and some didn’t.
And if all 3 of us bartenders liked you, then you had the E ticket, just like Disneyland.
One of the afternoon bartenders had an apartment 2 doors down from the bar and I had keys to his apartment. If a guy got too drunk and I liked him, sometimes I’d take him there and put him to bed. We called it “icing.” Once my shift was over I could be back there in five minutes, get naked and slip into bed with him. Even if he wasn’t quite awake yet and hadn’t quite remembered how they got there. But they’d remember real quick and it would turn into making out and hot wrestling matches. A bit of confusion and then wild sex.
Hell, that’s was Lafitte bartenders were known for.