Saturday, July 11, 2015

Hey Bar Bartenders – Why the Punt?

Not long ago I visited Bayfield, Wisconsin a charming town on the shores of Lake Superior. On the plane flight up I read a magazine article regarding a gallop poll which shared insights into the alcohol consumption patterns of Americans. Though beer is by far America’s favorite adult beverage (39% of Americans say they only drink beer), wine is now gaining popularity; 35 percent of Americans now say they prefer wine.

While strolling through Bayfield I came upon a small liquor store and walked in. It had an extensive inventory of beverages, especially wines. Many of the wines were brands which I knew, while others were foreign wines. What caught my eye was the large variety of local wines.

Not a big wine drinker I found myself picking up unfamiliar bottles and reading their labels. While holding the bottles I noticed some had deep indentations in their bases while others had flat bottoms. When I asked the sales clerk why this was she admitted she did not know. When I returned home I talked to several wine distributors I know and was surprised to learn some interesting trivia about wine bottles which I think every bartender and wait staff member should know.

When you have a chance look at the bottom of the wine bottles in your bar’s inventory. More than likely you will see many bottles have deep indentations in their bottoms. This inward dimple is officially called “The Punt” by Europeans; Americans generally refer to it as the kick-up. From what I found out there is no single reason for this unique feature but I have to admit the reasons people shared were both bizarre and fascinating. Below is a list of the ten most common explanations I was told why wine bottles have “punts”?

1) Punts are carryovers from when wine bottles were hand blown. Glass blowers pushed in the bottom of the bottle to ensure that when they removed their blow pipes the bottom was in and no scars were on the bottom to scratch a table’s surface.

2) Punts make wine bottles less tipsy. Its true a flat bottom wine bottle only needs a slight nudge to be unstable – however a punt provides stability should the bottle be accidentally bumped by a person sitting at the dinner table.

3) Punt help consolidate and sediment in the bottom of the bottle and prevent it from being poured out into a glass. {Years ago wines had a big problem with sediment, however modern vintners now use filters and there is very little sediment in wine today}.

4) Punts increase the strength of the bottle, allowing it to easily hold the high pressure of sparkling wines, champagnes and variety of wines left to ferment in the bottle.

5) Punts takes up room in the bottle which allows a bottle to appear larger, yet hold a lesser amount of wine.

6) Punts prevent wine bottles from shattering should they fall to the floor.

7) Prior to the invention of cardboard and wooden boxes wine bottles were typically laid on their sides in the cargo holds of ships. The punt allowed one bottle’s neck to fit nicely in the base of another, thus preventing the wine bottles from rolling around and being able to stacked row upon row.

8) Punts provide a convenient place for a Sommelier’s {a term for an upscale wine server} thumb which makes it easier for the server to accurately pour wine into a glass.

9) Punts make it easier for vintners to clean wine bottles prior to filling them. As a stream of hot water is injected into the bottle it will hit the punt and be deflected back throughout the entire bottle more evenly and forcefully which cleans the bottles quicker.

10) Connoisseurs of fine wine insist “Punts just make the wine taste better”.

Well there you have Eba G.’s reasons for the punt. I recommend you share this knowledge with your customers to sell more wine. Visit for more great bar ideas or just email Eba G. at

Monday, June 15, 2015

Why Most Theme Bars Fail

My long term readers know I am a big fan of Theme Bars - bars that offer a unique niche and provide an atmosphere based on a special theme.  Unfortunately, most of the bars that proclaim to be Theme Bars really aren't and it’s so sad. Just because a bar or tavern has several large screen TVs located throughout the bar does not make a bar a Sports Bar.

Years ago, one of my very first client’s was a couple from Michigan.  They had gone to Jamaica for a vacation and fell in love with the Caribbean flair:  the weather, the ocean, the sandy beaches but most of all a little Tiki bar they visited each day while in Jamaica.  

When they returned home to Michigan they decided to buy a local bar and create a Tiki Bar.  They quit their jobs and cashed in their 401Ks.  Their goal was to bring all the fun and excitement of a Jamaican Tiki bar back to northern Michigan. Now three years later they were wallowing in debt about to lose everything.

Upon receiving their call I flew up to Michigan. After meeting with the couple and seeing their bar; it was clear why they were in trouble.  Other than having impressively painted “TIKI BAR” on the front window, the only other ‘theme appeal’ was a dozen eloquently framed pictures - of their now almost 3 year old Jamaican vacation mounted on the walls. Absolutely nothing felt Jamaican or 'Tiki' – in their bar.

Both had to take part-time jobs to pay bills and the two of the worked 90% of all the bar shifts. Neither the husband or the wife knew how to make Caribbean style drinks.  No were in the bar was no coconut crème, pineapple juice or fresh fruit anywhere. 

Tap beer, shots and mixed drinks like whiskey old fashions and Manhattans were their staple.  Country western music bellowed out of their juke box – but oh God were they proud to own the only Tiki bar in northern Michigan.   

Recently, while on another assignment I had the opportunity to visit an old colleague.  He asked if I’d like to grab a bite to eat and he took me to a place called Gilligan’snamed after the famed Gilligan’s Island TV show.  Boy O Boy was I excited; I had never been to Gilligan’s Island theme bar. 

As we pulled in the parking lot there it was - the big sign “Gilligan’s”. I could hardly wait to get inside.  Immediately upon entering Gilligan’s shades of the Tiki Bar flashed through my head. The decor of Gilligan’s was nothing special:  a semicircular bar area, a few scattered tables, a juke box, a couple of large screen TV’s behind the bar, a pool table and a dart machine.

When the server came to take our orders wearing blue jeans and worn T-shirt  I asked “Why do you call this place Gilligan’s?” He proudly pointed to three pictures hanging on one wall.  The first picture was of the Skipper and his little buddy, the second, was a group shot of all the castaways, and the last photo was of the Professor and Gilligan working on some kind of contraption as Ginger and Mary Ann watched. 

He then flashed a big smile and said “look above the doors”.  Oh my God he was right, it was amazing.  Above one restroom doors was a sign that read Mr. Howell and the other door had a sign that read Mrs. Howell.  If my legs weren’t under the table I might have floated up into space from all the Gilligan excitement.

Before leaving I was able to meet the owner. I and asked him why his staff didn’t dress like Gilligan Islanders in 'would be sailor attire' or why his hostess didn’t dress like Ginger or why he himself didn’t wear a cap like the skipper did. “Awe that stuff cost too much and the employees don’t like wearing that crap”.  Humm I thought! 

Here was another splendid opportunity for a bar owner to create special atmosphere - something unique - something different - an honest to goodness theme bar that no one else in the area had … but he didn’t want to because the staff didn't like to wear that crap.

Great theme bars can be money makers where customers and profits just roll in if done right. But a theme for a bar has to be developed and it has to be consistent. Beer, booze and food can be purchased anywhere but finding a great theme bar where you can really have fun and spend lots of money are not. 

Theme bars fail when they don't have a theme.

Eba G is profit analyst who helps small bar and local taverns owner significantly increase their sales and profits for  Have a question?  Send Eba G an email at   Want more great ideas on how to increase your bar’s profits visit    

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

April 7th ---- Beer Day

For many people (in the United States) today, April 7 is an unofficial holiday - officially called Beer Day. Back on March 23rd, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the Cullen- Harrison Act which ended prohibition and making the sale of beer in the United States once again legal beginning on April 7th, 1933.

American for 13 long years Americans were not allowed to enjoy beer that had any significant alcoholic content in it because the Volstead Act {Prohibition} had been enacted in 1920. So today if you have a chance – hoist a beer and say Happy Beer Day.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Volunteer Duty at the National Cemetery

Kevin and I volunteered for Cemetery duty at our local National Cemetery here in Oklahoma on Memorial Day. Kevin is a member of our local American Legion and I am with the VFW post here in town.

We were lucky we drew a short shift from 3 PM to 7PM; however it turned out to be a longer time then I expected. Man, all I wanted to do was get the day over with and get back to the Post and have a few cold one. While at attention, I couldn’t help myself, I cheated and looked at my watch; I saw the time was 6:55 and thought my God just five more minutes and the cemetery gates will close and I am outta here. I felt just miserable in the sweltering heat wearing my full dress uniform.   

Just then a car pulled in the cemetery; it was an older model Cadillac – however it looked almost showroom new.  It drove in at a snail's pace and parked in front of the main building and an old lady got out.  God did she move slow; I thought she was paralyzed. She had a cane in one hand and a big sheaf of flowers in the other - about four or five bunches as best I could tell.

I couldn't help myself. An unwanted thought flashed through my mind and left a bitter taste: 'This old broad is probably going to spend an hour here and I'm ready to get back to the Post for a few beers.' Unfortunately, I volunteered for this duty and now it was my job was to escort or assist anyone coming into the cemetery – regardless of the time.

I knew Kevin would lock the 'In' gate promptly at 7PM and I was pretty sure, if I could hurry up this old biddy up we could make it to the Post by 7:30.  I broke attention and my hip made those God awful gritty noises as I took my first few steps - the pain shot up my spine.

I must have looked like a real military sight - a middle-aged man with a noticeable pot gut, limping and wearing a full-dress uniform, which had lost its razor crease about thirty minutes after arriving on duty at 3 in this terrible August heat.

I walked over to the old lady and she looked up at me with her old woman's squint.  'Ma'am, may I assist you in any way?'  She did not take long to answer.  'Yes, son - carry these flowers? I seem to be moving a tad slow these days.'  'My pleasure, ma'am.' I replied {it was a lie}.

She looked at me again and asked 'Son where were you stationed?'  'Vietnam, ma'am. Ground - pounder. '69 to '71.'  She looked at me closer. 'Wounded in action, I see. Well I'll try to be as quick as I can.'

I lied again, 'No hurry, ma'am.' Take your time. She smiled and said '
 Son, I'm 88-years-old and I can tell a lie from a long way off. So let's just get this done.’ As we walked she said ‘You know this might be the last time I ever make out here and can do this.  My name's Joanne Wieserman, and I've a few Marines I'd like to see one more time before I go just to say hello.'

'Yes, ma 'am - I am at your service.'

She headed for the World War I section and stopped at a grave stone. She pulled one of the flower bunches out of my arms and laid it on top of the stone. She murmured something I couldn't quite make out; however the name on the marble was Donald S. Davidson, USMC: France 1918.

She turned away and made a straight line for the World War II section, again stopping at one stone. This time I saw a tear slowly track its way down her cheek. She then grabbed another bunch of flowers and put it on that stone; the name on the stone was Stephen X. Davidson, USMC, 1943.

She then went up a few rows, grabbed another bunch of flowers out of my arms and laid them on another stone. This time the stone read Stanley J. Wieserman, USMC, 1944.  At this stone she paused for a very long time and now several tears flowed.  Then she said 'Only two more, son, and then you will be done with me'.

I almost didn't say anything, but, somehow I managed to say 'Take your time Ma'am.'

She looked confused now and asked ' Where's the Vietnam section, son? I seem to have lost my way. ’I pointed with my chin; 'That way, ma'am.'  'Oh!' she chuckled quietly. 'Son, me and old age aren’t too friendly.'

She then headed down the walkway I'd pointed at and she stopped at a couple of stones before she found the one she wanted. She grabbed another bunch of flowers from my arms placed it on the stone of Larry Wieserman, USMC, 1968 where she just stood for about 5 minutes.  Then we walked to the last stone Darrel Wieserman, USMC, 1970.  She stood there murmuring words which I could not make out but I saw a noticeable stream of tears flow by this stone.

'OK, son, I'm finished. You can take me back to my car and you can go home now.'

‘Yes, ma'am. If I may ask ma'am, were those your kinfolk’?

She said ' Yes, Donald Davidson was my father, Stephen was my uncle, Stanley was my husband, Larry and Darrel were my sons. All killed in action, all were Marines.'

I walked with her as she slowly and painfully made her way back to her car.  As she drove off I waited for a polite distance to come between us - then I double-timed it over to Kevin who was waiting in the running car with the air conditioner on.  I jumped in and said "let’s go - get to the 'Out' gate ASAP... there is something we have to do.'

Kevin started to say something, but when he saw the look I gave him he broke the rules and sped through the cemetery as fast as he could down the service road.  Thankfully we made it to the “Out’ gate before Mrs.Wieserman.  Her car was just now approaching the rotunda.

'Kevin" I said” walk with me and stand next to me at the gatepost and for God’s sake stand at attention - just follow my lead".  We humped it across the drive and when the Cadillac came puttering around from the hedges and began heading toward the gate, I yelled 'Ten Hut! - - - Present Haaaarms!'

I have to hand it to Kevin; he never blinked an eye. Standing next to me in his dress uniform at attention his salute would have made any DI proud. 

Mrs. Wieserman drove through that gate that day with two old worn-out soldiers - members of a small town American Legion and VFW - giving her a special send-off - a send off she deserved and earned for the services she had rendered to her country and for knowing that duty, honor and sacrifices go far beyond the realm of what most people can phantom.

I’m not sure, but to this very day, I honestly believe I saw a salute returned from that old lady driving that Cadillac.

Forgive me if your computer screen just got blurry -- mine did to – it always does when I read this story.  I sincerely hope this story was worth sharing as because I firmly believe that we as a nation never forget those who have fallen before us. Feel free to do what you want with this story - delete it if you like; however my hope is you will take just a moment to share this great story with some friends or loved ones.  Eba Gee USAF - Retired {1968 - 1989}