The secret of a bar charmer by Philip Duff - ultima parte



Common Sense & Choice Architecture 

You know what I mean— you do, don’t you? Because I know you. You’re a Caucasian male, live in a large-ish city, preferred the original Star Wars trilogy, use a Mac or a tricked-out Windows PC, own an iPod or similar and have travelled to bar and cocktail conventions in cities like New Orleans, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin or Sydney. I bet as you sit there reading this there’s a drink within arm’s reach. I’m right, aren’t I? It’s a comfortable reading light and you’re sitting in your favourite spot. You love classic cocktails, hate vodka, dislike flair bartending, disdain disco drinks, use Facebook, love whiskey, use a jigger and I bet you own at least one copy of Diffordsguide. And you’re a good-looking guy too, well-dressed, well-dressed, popular with the ladies and intelligent. You’ve read this far, right? Well done!

The above paragraph might sound a bit like mind-reading, but it is just common sense. Most people who buy a specialist book like this one will agree broadly with the statements above. There are more women than men in mixology (sadly), more city dwellers than rural, and of course you’re sitting comfortably-— duh. This, more then anything, is the common sense of charm. See what everyone sees. Do— or say— what no-one does. 

With great power comes great responsibility. It is all well and good to have superhuman powers of persuasion, but in a bar setting, you are employing them to make money. Bars make money by being viable over the mid-to-long term: having consistent sales for a long enough time to pay off any loans and make some real money. If you use your skills to overload a guest with food and drink, you make a lot of money one night and probably very little thereafter— you “burned” them. 

The goal is to get your guests to return. If they return, you will always have another chance to sell them something extra. But if they ever get an inkling— and remember, body language, intonation etc. work both ways— that you are milking them , they will not return. 

Choice Architecture 

It is possible to heavily influence the choices that guests make in your bar because you, handsome chap/ gorgeous lady that you are, are a Choice Architect. You choose which options to give to a guest. You design the choosing system, as it were. A few precepts of choice architecture: 

•   Humans want instant satisfaction. They want that new car / perfect wedding / hot date / easy date / Staggerac / double-layer limoncello cheesecake NOW, damnit, and the bill/ divorce/ hepatitis/ hangover/ extra ten kilos, well, that’s a problem for the future. One Dutch anti-drinking campaign uses this principle in it’s ads: they feature the enjoyably onomatopoeic tagline: “De Kater Komt Later” [The Hangover Is Later]. It is easy to convince a guest of anything involving instant gratification. Staggerac! Because hey, they walked into your bar. It’s not like they thought it was a health-food store, now was it? 

•  Difficulty. We do not have to make choices about some things often enough to become expert at choosing, and some things are insanely complicated anyway. Most people only get married and buy a house a few times in their lives, for instance. Guests who don’t visit nice bars often, or don’t drink nice liquor in them, are unpractised. And let’s be honest, choosing what to drink in a nice bar, even for practised experts, is not easy.

 •  Feedback. It is only by seeing our “mistakes” that we learn. We only learn what drinks, and crucially, which kind of drinks, we like by trial and error. Most bartenders are relatively expert in drinks because they drink more, more often and perhaps with fewer budget constraints, than “normal” people. We typically know far more about food than drinks because this trial-and-error is usually done by our parents when we are young in regard to food. (“ Tonight Mom’s made curry!”) But if your daddy was conducting a vertical Manhattan tasting with you while you were still wearing shorts to school, it’s a wonder you haven’t been on Jerry Springer already. 

•  Knowing Stuff. If you have never drunk whiskey, it is no help at all to hear that Greenore Irish whiskey tastes similar to Weller’s Kentucky bourbon. When we have to choose unfamiliar products (Jefferson’s whiskey?) in unfamiliar settings (“ What is a speakeasy anyway? I could barely find the damn place! They should put a sign outside…..”), we evaluate them in terms of what we do know – which is often not helpful. A teenage girl (in countries where teenage girls are legally allowed to drink alcohol) ordering a James Bond Martini has probably never drunk a cocktail before, certainly not one like this, and probably never been in a nice bar like yours. All she DOES know is the name of a cocktail. She needs to be Nudged. 

•  More choice does not help. It frustrates. The libertarian model of decision-making –that we are all super-intelligent, rational and require only many different options from which we can flawlessly select the best one – is flawed. If a guest has never drunk a cocktail before, a 50 drink menu will not help him. A 20-drink menu will not. A 10-drink menu, perhaps, will. 

In the Nudge: Improving Decisions about health, Wealth, and Happiness, authors Richard H Thaler and Cass R Sunstein introduce the concept of libertarian paternalism. This can be summed up thus: 
 1. Allowing people to do anything they want (libertarian)
2. Designing systems to “nudge” them in a “good” direction (paternalism)   The essential idea behind libertarian paternalism is that people are both stupid and lazy, and let’s be honest, at certain times and on certain topics, we all are.

Nudging & You

 Wouldn’t you like to be able to nudge people to drink better? Maybe even help them discover some of the hidden bargains on your menu? Steer them ‘twixt the Scylla of advertising and the Charybdis of peer pressure? Then make it easier for them to order what is better for them— in your expert opinion— and harder to order what is not. Choose something that you would like to have happen— guests ordering faster, drinking better, selling more high-margin liquor, champagne and cocktails instead of low-margin high-volume beer and wine, whatever. Now tweak the systems you have for helping people decide. (If you’re following me, this is another BU-WA-HA-HA! moment). Now sit back and observe. Some examples might include:

 • If you have interior-lit glass-fronted refrigerators for beer, wine and soft drinks, order 
blackout sticker for the doors, so guests will not be entranced by the backlit bottles therein. For bonus points, have the stickers paid for by a liquor brand, or with a stencil of a cocktail name cut into it so the light shines through. Have a lighted glass-fronted champagne fridge somewhere at eye level, or perhaps a large champagne bucket full of crushed ice and various bottles of champagne, right in the middle of the bar.

 •  Remove all mention of everything except for champagne, liquor and cocktails from the menu. Guests can order them— and you have to assume a bar will have them— but you are nudging them towards what you consider to be better. Only include a dozen of the cocktails you’d like to sell, six to eight champagnes, and no more than thirty brands of liquor, tops.

 •  Have a one-line, twelve-word description for each cocktail, liquor brand and champagne; no more, no less. Include a simile of how it tastes: “lemon-biscuit flavours” describe a good bourbon sour, while a Sazerac contains anise-cherry flavours from the Peychaud’s. Help people to choose between unfamiliar options in an unfamiliar setting.

 •  Remove all the latent POS and branding you have for everything except liquor, cocktails and champagne. Beer signs, pour mats, branded straws, napkins, bartender bottle openers, bar caddies, fridges, everything. Unplug the beer tap lights.
Put the products you want to sell at eye-level on the back bar, slightly right of centre (studies show 70 percent of guests approaching a bar haven’t decided what to order, they scan the back bar and their gaze ends in the middle of the back bar, slightly to the right). If your back bar looks like you sell glassware, sort it out.

 •  Make sure your offer is strong enough to support your choice architecture. Re-invent your whole drinks list around champagne, cocktails and liquor. You will need both cheaper and more expensive options, familiar as well as obscure brands, drinks that are visually appealing, that appeal to different age groups, etc. Your offer must be good before you start nudging guests towards it, otherwise you, sir, are polishing a turd.

One Final Exercise & A Creepy Quote

 Jim Sullivan and Phil Roberts, authors of the 1995 book Service That Sells!: The Art of Profitable Hospitality, pioneered the Sullivan Nod, which is just about the most powerful sales technique there is in a bar. I guarantee when you read what followed you will laugh out loud or at least smile but here’s the thing: it works. Like, nine times out of ten. No-one ever notices you’re doing it. It’s so powerful you have to use it altruistically: you can literally sell anything to anyone, but you must remember the only goal is a satisfied guest who will return—“ burning” a guest by overloading him with too much expensive booze on one trip may kill your future possible sales to him. 

The Sullivan Nod: Slowly nod two times as you say the name of the brand or drink you’d like the person to choose. 

First relax your guest and build rapport. Then, let’s imagine your guests asks for a recommendation and says he likes whiskey. If you’re recommending a Sazerac alongside a Manhattan or an Old-Fashioned, it would go like this: 

“There’s the Sazerac (nods twice), The Manhattan or the Old-Fashioned. Which one would you like?” 

Lets make it even more powerful. Smile as you nod when you say “Sazerac”, but don’t smile when you say the other two names. Smiling makes our eyes wider and our cheeks more childlike, and humans are genetically programmed to respond positively and gullibly to child-faces. 

“There’s the Sazerac (smiles and nods twice), The Manhattan or the Old-Fashioned. Which one would you like? “ 

And let’s take advantage of another nifty phenomenon called Primacy and Recency: we tend to remember what comes first and last, and forget everything in between as “noise”. So as well as smiling and nodding, let’s repeat Sazerac at the end of the list as well: 

“There’s the Sazerac (smiles and nods twice), The Manhattan, the Old-Fashioned and the Sazerac (smiles and nods twice), Which one would you like? “ And (stifle your BU-WA-HA-HA! Yes, you there at the back) let’s make it utterly bullet-proof by shaking our head when we say Manhattan and Old-Fashioned. Shaking your head is the ultimate "no" and we learn it immediately we're born: It's how a child indicates it has had enough of the milk flowing from a breast or a bottle. 

"There's the Sazerac (smile and nods twice), The Manhattan (shakes head), the Old-Fashioned (shakes head) and the Sazerac (smiles and nods twice), Which one would you like?"

This will put your success rate with this "sale" in the 95% percent to 100 percent range.But only if this was the right drink to recommend. Your offer must be good.

Cypher: You know, I know that this steak doesn't exist. I know when I put in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, do you know what i've realized? 

(Pausing, he examines the meat skewered on his fork. He pops it in, eyes, rolling up, savouring the tender beef melting in his mouth.)

Ignorance is bliss.

AGENT SMITH: Then we have a deal?

-from the 1999 motion picture The Matrix  


The secret of a bar charmer by Philip Duff - partea a 2-a



“A gentleman is someone who always puts everyone else at their ease.”— Unknown  
Going to a bar can be very stressful. A first date, drinks with an important client, meeting friends that might include ex-girlfriends, potential husbands, former business associates and at least one person you wouldn’t spit on if he was on fire: Social situations are increasingly complicated. You have to choose what to wear, perhaps make a reservation or choose a time for everyone meet up, and find the place. If it’s your first time you don’t know what to expect, what the drinks cost, who else will be there. And then when you’re inside you may have to leave your date / client / girlfriend behind and fight your way to the bar, then fight for attention from the bartender. If it’s tableside service you might be confronted with a menu full of exotic, obscure, and worrying options. What the hell is Batavia arrack? What if I mis-pronounce “Caipirinha”? What if the waitress laughs at me? Or my date? Or the client?
Relaxation is key. If you can, make sure the door to the bar opens inwards (welcoming guests in) instead of outwards (effectively pushing them away before they even enter!). If it is at all possible, try to greet the guest as soon as he or she come in. If you can’t have someone greet them and take their coats, then at least make sure they get smiled and waved at by a bartender or waiter. Point them towards a coat rack. Gesture them to an empty table or seats at the bar. Keep smiling. I am often asked what the best way to welcome a guest is. It is to say “Welcome!”. Yeah, duh, right? But it is so often forgotten. Follow it up with a thank-you. “Thanks for coming along tonight!”. Never mention a guest’s previous visit if he is with someone that you do not both know, and even then it is better to wait for him to bring it up himself.

Now for a compliment. Always give a guest a compliment. Compliment ladies on their clothes, shoes, hair, jewellery or handbag. Compliment the gentleman on his clothing, or (if you are sure it is a couple) on the beauty of the lady. Compliment a group on how attractive and fun they look. Do not worry about being “fake”. We are all fake, in different settings and with different people. I talk very differently to my mother than I do to a client, or a guest, or a pretty girl in a bar, and so do you. We are inseparable from the masks that we wear. You should find something about everyone to make a sincere compliment upon, and if you cannot, you are not looking hard enough. Don’t make a sarcastic joke or undermine your own compliment. Be sincere.
You do not need to like someone to have rapport with them: it is just that we tend to unconsciously develop rapport with people that we like, and who like us back. But you can develop rapport with anyone. The single largest component of rapport is observation: consciously observing what people say and do and reacting accordingly. This topic is covered brilliantly in British mentalist Derren Brown’s 2004 TV series Trick of the Mind. In series two, Brown so effectively uses targeted rapport, word choice, intonation and setting that he manages to convince a well-known actor (Simon Pegg) that his ideal present (which Brown has prepared) is a BMX bike. This despite the fact that, weeks before, Pegg had written down “leather jacket” on a piece of paper, sealed it in an envelope and carried it around in his wallet, where he must have noticed it once a day at least. At the end, Pegg is visibly flabbergasted to discover that he had written down “leather jacket”: he really, truly wants nothing more than a BMX bike. That is how powerful rapport can be. (The episode can be viewed on YouTube.)
Body Language
When I read the quote from Jerry Thomas that started this article— and it’s the very first “hint” in his Bar-Tender’s Guide— I cannot but think that JT was writing about reading and reacting to body language. Notice that he at no time mentions making great drinks or even good drinks. No, just satisfying “desires he has already watched and ascertained” in order to “acquire popularity and success.” Ol’ JT in his heyday was making the equivalent of $ 220,000 a year in today’s money, and I for one would attribute that to his skill in reading guests, not because he steeped his own bitters.
Study after study confirm that total inter-personal communication is 38 percent body language, 45 percent intonation and just 7 percent verbal, i.e. word choice. Most people do not consciously observe or adjust their body language— but I am sure you have at least once, just moments after meeting someone, made a snap judgment about whether you like him or not? That’s body language. You may not even have heard the gentleman in question speak, but you just do not like him. The chap in question might eventually get into your good graces, but he is going to have to work a lot harder than if you had liked him at first glance.
One aspect of body language is that we see much more than we think we do. Malcolm Gladwell’s great 2006 book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking explains “micro expressions”, tiny facial expressions that we make for less than a second, that cannot be differentiated by the naked eye, only in slow-motion reply on video. But our eyes do see them when they occur, and we react accordingly— but not consciously. And that’s your snap decision, which is very often the correct one (see Gerd Gigerenzer’s 2007 book Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious for further reading).
Body Language Precepts
1. Body language expresses how you feel, but it also influences how you feel. If a guest is asking for recommendations but is sitting there in a “closed” posture— arms and legs crossed, perhaps the head lowered and tucked in slightly— he isn’t really interested in recommendations. He might be tired, cold or maybe intimidated by you, your bar or the drinks list, but for whatever reason, he is “closed”. If you hand that guest an open menu, lean forward just a little, and talk just a bit more softly than you normally would, he will open his hands (to grab the menu) and lean forward, which will probably force him to uncross his legs. Instantly, you have created an “open” guest that cannot help but be more receptive to your suggestions. Body language both expresses and influences your feelings.
2. Body language is also language. You can no more draw reliable inferences from one posture of body language than you can by overhearing one word of a conversation. You have to follow someone for a while and establish a “baseline” of their body language in different situations before you can accurately read it. And body language is culture-specific: Scandinavians use much less, and different, body language than do, say, Spaniards. In some cultures, nodding your head means “no” while shaking it means “yes”.

3. Body language is contextual. A lady might be crossing her arms and legs, indicating a “closed” state of mind. This may be due to (a) a long day at work, so she needs to relax mindlessly, or (b) the fact that she feels cold or (c) she’s wearing a low-cut top and a short skirt. Context is all, and it must dictate your approach.
4. Body language rules. If someone is verbally saying A, but, through body language, communicating B, we will deduce he is saying B, or at the very least that he is not being honest when he says A. We often pick up on this as a “gut feeling”.  
 Rapport can be quickly established through body language by pacing. This is nothing more than, in a very general way, copying the other person’s body language, breathing rhythm, blinking rhythm, word choice and speaking rhythm. Don’t copy the other person’s moves exactly— that gets creepy quickly— but if the person you’re speaking to runs her fingers through her hair, you could scratch your neck, that sort of thing. She smiles, you smile. After a while of this you can start to match the other person’s breathing and blinking rhythm. You can even mirror word choice:
Her: “… and I was just looking at this guy, like, what did I ever see in him?” (she’s using visual words) You: “Yeah, I see what you’re saying, he must have looked like a fool. Ha ha ha!” (... and so are you, you clever thing!)
 Once you have established rapport, you can begin leading. Change your breathing, or make a movement, or change your word choice and see if the other person adjusts to follow you. If you’ve never done anything like this before, when you start to lead successfully after pacing for a while, it will be your “Whoa!” moment. You’ll have to stifle a “BU-WA-HA-HA-HA!” or two.
The words you use are only 7 percent of communication but they are still important. The right words can awaken powerful memories and the accompanying emotions, all anchored by aroma and flavour memories, like Proust biting into a tea-dunked madelaine in his semi-autobiographical, seven volume novel A la Recherche du Temps Perdu [Remembrances of Things Past] (1913-1927).
It’s no coincidence that the ridiculously successful Harry Potter books contain lots and lots of descriptions of eating and drinking. And are you ready for another “duh! moment? You must listen to what people say. Not drift off, wondering what your nickname would be if you got a job with The A-Team. Not surreptitiously text-messaging. Listen. In the world of sales, it is often said that a customer will tell you how they want you to sell something to them. Here, with thanks to Derren Brown, an excellent example:
You (Bartender): “Welcome sir! Thanks for dropping by. What can I get such a good-looking young man about town like yourself tonight?”
 Guest: “I was looking for a gin and I saw your back-bar, I see you have a lot…….”
 You: “Yes, do have any favourites you like to drink?”
Guest: “Well, how about that one there in the pink neon bottle with the flashing lights on it? That looks cool!”
You (stifling a pained expression): “Well, to be quite honest, that one’s a bit, er… crap. It’s cold-compounded rubbish made by drunken chimps, ordered on consignment and sold only to gullible fools who watch more than one reality TV show per week. Would you like to try Juniperbomeateray Emerald? It’s pot-stilled Bermondsey-style with just a hint of African tree-hound carcass (and you put the bottle in the guest’s hands).
Guest (looking as if you just handed him a rotting tree-hound carcass): “Er, no, it’s OK, tell you what, I’ll have a beer…..”
 See what happened? The guest was using words that made it very clear he was only interested in how the gin looked (“ I was looking... I saw... I see... That looks...), while the all-knowing bartender had gotten past the “looks” of bottles years ago to concentrate on their inherent qualities— and failed to really listen to what the guest was saying.
In the above situation, a bartender who was better at listening could have just sold the guest the gin in the flashy bottle, or at least a gin that was a good compromise between quality and flashy packaging. Here’s how it might have gone:
Guest: “Well, how about that one there in the neon bottle with the flashing lights on it? That looks cool!”
You: “I see, I see, it IS spectacular, isn’t it? I must say, you really know your gins. When I’m looking for a gin – like you are – I always look for a good balance of a beautiful package and an absolutely delicious, well-made gin, don’t you? How about this G’Jewelarioselleouth Air Force Strength? It’s proper distilled gin and look! the bottle glows in the dark!!”
Guest: “Awesome dude! (high-fives you). Make mine a double!”
 A whopping 38 percent of communication, intonation is the speed at which you speak, the emphasis you place on words, and your use of strategic pauses to get and keep the audience’s attention. It is one of the first skills that actors learn, and most of us know at least one person, actor or not, who can hold a group spellbound as he tells the most mundane of stories, or the most unfunny of jokes.

The primary exercise is to stand where a friend of yours cannot see you, and try saying a normal word (I favour “elbow”) in at least five different ways— for example, aggressively, seductively, whiny, inquisitively and bored. Get your friend to write down each time what emphasis he thinks you are putting on the words, and compare notes afterwards.

Pausing for effect, done correctly, has the audience hanging on your every word. It is used brilliantly by most politicians, who all seem to have the same media trainer. Try speaking this sentence, clearly and confidently with a one-second pause in between each line:
“It is very important indeed To know that distilling, especially double-distilling Is essential to the integrity of the spirit And we Must always demand That our spirits be double-distilled” This, of course, is nonsense. But read with confidence in a clear voice with the correct pauses, it sounds like the freakin’ Gettysburg Address.
The speed at which you speak is also important: a precept of establishing rapport— watch the Derren Brown/ Simon Pegg video again if you have not yet— is that you can overwhelm the other person into agreement with a rapidly-spoken chain of sentences. Quickly rattling off thoughts, facts, figures (politicians are excellent at this) overwhelms listeners, so much so that when you pause very slightly in your high-speed delivery and ask the other person for a yes or a no, or to do something or not to do, they will do exactly as you ask, if you have already established rapport through relaxation, pacing and leading.

                                                                    - va urma -