Tag Archives: bartending

Starting Fresh

Photo credit to Jessica Jack Wyrick

Photo credit to Jessica Jack Wyrick

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Last weekend, I came across the Mary Oliver poem that included that line, and it’s stuck with me. Since then, I’ve been hustling my freelance game harder than ever before. As a result, I’m calling September The Month of Just Doing It. So far, I’ve pitched two national publications and one regional one. I’ve requested an update from a private client, and scheduled an interview.

Even though I haven’t been blogging, I’ve been writing more than ever before on many of the same topics. Here’s a handy list of life updates:

  • I still love cocktails. My dream of writing for mental_floss has been a reality for almost a year, and my editor’s help in finding my voice in science writing has been invaluable. Read those posts here.
  • I’m exercising regularly. Not all of the written entries have been posted yet, but having Chris Conn as my personal trainer at Omega Life Fitness has pushed me to a new level of fitness. On to the next goal.
  • Rejection is OK. I’ve already had a pitch rejected from one national publication, but immediately pitched another. If my motivation to keep moving, working, failing and learning ever stops, I’m finished as a freelancer. For The Month of Just Doing It, I will continue to research and pitch new stories, even if they fail. I also entered a cocktail competition earlier this year and made it to the finals. I didn’t win, but did learn a lot from the process itself.
  • I’m engaged. Even before I was engaged, I was writing for Love Inc., a wedding publication dedicated to all love — equally. I’ve written about buying a wedding dress, getting engaged (in that order), and various industry trends.
  • I don’t like new things. As a writer, being change-averse is both silly and counter-productive. Without experiencing new things, you can’t develop new material for any medium. This weekend, Adam and I went to a marksmanship clinic. It was a new and thoroughly frustrating experience, but I can now hit a target with a damn fine grouping at 100 yds, and am a passable shot up to 400 yds. This winter, I’ll go hunting with Adam for the first time.
  • Bartending is still awesome. Writing and bartending are two of my passions, and getting to pursue them both concurrently is amazing. But both take hustle, hard work and energy. Over the next few months, I’ll be ramping up my networking on both fronts to see how I can move them forward.

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Cocktail of the Hour — the Sherry Flip

photo (5)After ten months of bartending, I’ve tasted through quite a few different sherries. Before that, I considered sherry to be a product only for cooks and older women. Needless to say, the range of styles and flavors quickly turned my apprehension into appreciation. In cocktails, this ingredient can add aspects such as dryness or a sweet, round nuttiness. High quality sherry also adds a lovely rich, velvety body.

Flips are the oldest defined class of cocktail. Modern variations usually involve an egg, sweetening agent and base liquor or liqueur, but the earliest flips were most likely variations of a spiced, sweetened and beer-based punch. This cold weather drink was probably also heated with a poker, causing sugars to caramelize and the whole brew to hiss and boil. The result was a complex mix of sweet and bitter from quickly heating the mix with the poker.

About 150 years ago, the first references to cold flips appear. As rum and other spirits became more available within Europe and elsewhere, they replaced beer as the base for the flip. Some bartenders (or home bartenders) added egg and sometimes cream to the mixture, and the cold flip was born. Though the inclusion of cream is now categorized separately, this class of drinks has a long and well-established history.

Since most bars no longer stock fire-heated pokers (can haz industrial heating rod?), cold flips have become the more prevalent cocktail option. These creamy, sweet, rich confections are the perfect nightcap or post-dinner dessert.

Recipe:
2 dashes Chocolate molé bitters
1 whole unpasteurized farm egg*
1 tsp Grade B maple syrup
2 oz sherry (NOT CREAM OR COOKING SHERRY)
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for 20 seconds without ice. Add ice and shake for an additional 20 seconds or until combined and chilled through. Strain into a chilled rocks glass.

*If you’re apprehensive about using an uncooked egg in a cocktail, read my primer on the subject here.

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2014

Pretty much.

Pretty much.

2013 was full of more love, triumph and running than any other year before it. At the beginning of the year, I was about to leave my first (and probably last) ever corporate job to start working at a local hospital. After only a few months, I left that job to bartend and freelance.

As a beginning bartender, the hours and fluctuating pay have been challenging, but knowing I don’t have to keep office hours can be its own reward. Technique-wise, it’s been so fun to begin mastering the basics and working towards a deeper understanding of the foundations and science that underpin it. However, the combined time constraints of Adam’s and my work often mean that we can go days without seeing each other for more than five minutes. During this upcoming year, I will set my priorities and honor them as such.

I also began treating my writing like a business and building it accordingly. This approach has expanded my market significantly and given me a bit of financial wiggle room. Connections within my network have afforded an online column for mental_floss, pieces for a gorgeous wedding magazine and a continued relationship with my first freelance client. In 2014, I’ll build my market and marketable (writing) skill set even further.

This year also marked the start of my journey to become a runner. It hasn’t been easy or extremely consistent, but it’s consistently demonstrated the necessity of exercise. I haven’t been blogging much about writing or running recently because I had too much material. Once that had passed, I didn’t have enough so I stayed away. That changes in 2014. Instead of trying to continue a breakneck pace of personal blogging, I’m cutting back.

Each week, I will be posting twice: one Cocktail of the Week post and one running or writing post. Two posts each week will provide a stable schedule (hopefully) without giving me an excuse to skip runs. 2014 looks different than any previous year, but it looks pretty nice from here. Bring it on, 2014. Bring it on.

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Not-so-needful things

See? I have all that I need.

See? I have all that I need.

It’s come to my attention that I’m hard to shop for. Personally, I think my interests are pretty straightforward, but if I need something, I’m not going to wait for a holiday. If I can afford it, I’m likely to buy it immediately. So, here’s a list of the nonessentials I’ve got my eye on right now by category of interest:

  • For running, I’m looking out for deals on GPS watches and extra pairs of running tights and headbands. Though I haven’t been the best at keeping up with running during the deadline crunch, it’d be good to stock up for the cooler months to come.
  • Writing-wise, I need to update my business casual wardrobe. Some of the pieces in it were purchased when I was a completely different shape. Since I’m cheap and hate shopping, it’ll probably be a while before this need is met.
  • Though I get a lot of practice bartending while I’m on shift, I should probably stock my home bar. After purchasing a mixing spoon and shaker tins of my own, I’m getting closer, but I need to also stock vermouth, fruit, syrups, strainers, bitters and rum. My wishlist is also full of bartending books: Gary Regan’s The Joy of Mixology, David Wondrich’s Punch! and Imbibe!, David Embury’s The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, to name a few.

Let’s be honest: I’m probably not going to leave my couch today. I don’t like the concept or execution of Black Friday and therefore will not be participating if I can avoid it. I hope your Black Friday is similarly relaxing!

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Meanwhile, in my living room

Hey look! My exercise buddy and person!

Hey look! My exercise buddy and person!

Today, I didn’t want to write. I want to curl up in a blanket and stare at my bedroom’s ceiling tiles, not confront all of the deadlines looming right after Thanksgiving. Despite the funk, I’m up and about.

Days like this are the reason that I exercise. Even just 15 minutes of yoga or running or lifting weights has the almost magical ability to get me back to emotionally level within a few hours. This week, my schedule is riddled with deadlines and bartending shifts. Between the seven remaining deadlines and quite a few hours behind the bar, I’m seeking out all the things I can do instead of knocking out deadlines early.

The problem is that fitness won’t wait. If I put it off, my mood suffers, but if I commit to it, I’m diverting precious energy with the knowledge my energy levels will eventually increase exponentially. It may sound like lip service to the proven research on science, but it’s true. Though I want to melt into the couch, I won’t.

In my years on this planet, I’ve experienced the ups and downs that come with living fully. The sadness and joy and love and craziness that accompany it are natural parts. These emotions are vital to being human. They’re also so powerful that they can control the path of life, but exercise can help to regulate them.

Even if a short yoga session only serves as a quick mental break, the time spent will be well worth it. As a science, tech and writing nerd, my brain is usually stuck in high gear, and running or lifting slow my thoughts just enough to keep me sane. So, if you need me, I’m unplugging for the next 45 minutes before I go in to Octane.

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How not to become a full-time writer

netflixI love writing. Building individual words into words and articles that demonstrate my knowledge and wit has been an incredibly fun way to spend my time and energy outside of bartending. However, I’ve recently become aware that some habits I’ve formed are not conducive in any way, shape or form to expanding my freelance markets. I’ve put together a list of the worst offenders to help others avoid my mistakes.

  • Netflix is a fantastic substitute for cable. However, there are millions of hours’ worth of TV shows and movies available instantly. Getting sucked into a show (or three or four) is easy, but extracting yourself is not. Start watching Supernatural at your own risk.
  • Complacency is easy. There’s something to be said for treating your current clients like gold — it’s absolutely necessary for a freelancer to succeed — but it’s another to stay within your boundaries because they’re comfortable. Taking action will mean facing rejection and bouncing back, but just asking could lead to possibilities you’d only imagined. After reading mental_floss as a kid, I never thought I’d actually have a column on their website, but I do. It’s more awesome than I could have imagined.
  • Networking is a buzzword for a reason. Writing and freelancing do depend on your knowledge, but breaking into new markets is just as dependent on who you know as what you know. Until you reach out to your friends and acquaintances, you’ll never know what opportunities their networks can offer.
  • A personal blog can be a great way to put your thoughts out there for the Internet to judge, but it can also turn into a distraction from real, paying deadlines and important personal connections. Balance is key.
  • Ignoring your limits is a great way to get yourself sick, overwhelmed and unable to function at all. Taking on too much work can seem like the perfect way to set yourself apart from the crowd, but it can also backfire — hard. If you get exhausted and miss a deadline, it’ll make an editor remember you in a way that can harmfully impact your personal brand.

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Profession vs. personality

Photo credit to Hyperbole and a Half, one of my favorite blogs.

Photo credit to Hyperbole and a Half, one of my favorite blogs.

Professionally, my life is split between two extremes. As a freelance writer, I sit on my couch and translate my thoughts into words that are published on websites, blogs and print. These jobs challenge the boundaries of what I think I can write and continuously expand my horizons. I’m alone when I write, but I’m seldom lonely.

Most days, I leave my apartment only to run or to go to work. In the past months, running has become an exercise in pacing both my strides and my life. It’s not always something I do well, but I keep trying. I have more energy when I run, and am more able to tackle all of the challenges thrown my way.

When I’m behind the bar, I step it up. I drink more tea and if I’m really tired, some espresso to keep my energy levels high. I joke, banter, tell stories, talk to customers/friends and keep moving. If I’m in motion, I’m awake and can keep the momentum going. It’s fast-paced, hospitality-oriented and way different from anything else I’ve done.

I’ve found recently that I’m having more trouble recharging after my shifts. Whether it’s exhaustion, an inconsistent sleep schedule, lack of exercise or overstimulation, I can’t seem to get rested. Though I’ve put a plan into effect to get back to regular exercise and have started blocking off time to read. After deleting Candy Crush, this plan seems to be working. My energy levels are slightly higher, and I have finally worked through my to do list.

Next week, I’m looking forward to more time to myself. I’ll also be putting together a Halloween costume and getting ready to start the November #bloglikecrazy challenge. Though it’ll add daily blogging to my to do list, I’m looking forward to getting back in the habit of writing and taking time out for my blog each day. As well, sitting down with my writing every day will give me the chance to evaluate my priorities as a freelancer. I may not like what I find, but it’ll make me more honest.

Until then, I’m going to keep on working towards balancing my work obligations and personal needs. Right now, it’s time to read.

Have any advice for balancing your personality type with job expectations? Leave them in the comments!

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