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 flight up I read a magazine article regarding a recent 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 to beer.

While strolling through downtown Bayfield I came upon a small liquor store and naturally walked in. It had an extensive inventory of beverages, especially wines. Many of the wines were brands I knew, while others were foreign wines - not in the sense they were from countries overseas but they were all local wines - produced by small vintners from up in northern Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota.

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

The next time you have a chance take a look at the bottom of the wine bottles in your bar’s inventory. More than likely you will see indentations in some of the bottle bottoms. 

Get ready - here comes the education.  The inward 'dimple' on the bottom of a wine bottle is officially called “The Punt” by Europeans; American sommeliers (that a fancy word for wine experts) generally refer to it as the "kick-up". From what I learned talking to sommeliers and wine distributors there is no one single reason any one agrees on for this unique feature in the bottom of a wine bottle; however I have to admit the reasons I learned were both bizarre and fascinating. Below is a list of the ten most common explanations I was provided as to why wine bottles have “punts” or "kick-ups?

1) Punts are carryovers from when wine bottles were actually hand blown. Glass blowers always to a moment to push in the bottom of the bottle before they removed their blow pipes to ensure the bottle would always sit flat and not scratch the surface of a table or counter when the bottle was sat down.

2) Punts make a wine bottle less tipsy. Its true! A flat bottom wine bottle only needs a slight nudge to become unstable - and tip over - however the punt provides the bottle with stability should the bottle be accidentally bumped by a person sitting at the dinner table.

3) Punts help consolidate any sediments in the bottom of the bottle thus it prevents sediments from being poured into a glass. {Remember years ago vintners [wine makers] had  problems with sediment, however today modern vintners use filters so there is really little sediment found in wines today}.

4) Punts increase the strength of the bottle.  The punt allows a bottle to easily hold the high pressure of sparkling wines and champagnes.  They also help control CO2 discharges when some wines continue 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. (This to me is an idiotic reason cynical people believe. I don't).

6) Punts help prevent wine bottles from shattering should they fall off a table and onto the floor.  Its true - the punt design is actually an engineering thing.

7) My favorite.  Prior to the invention of cardboard and wooden boxes wine bottles were typically laid on their sides in the cargo holds of sailing ships. The punts allowed one bottle’s neck to fit nicely in the base of another bottle, thus they (the punts) prevented wine bottles from rolling around below deck and allowed more bottles to be stacked row upon row during a voyage.

8) Punts provide a convenient place for a Wine Steward {a fancy term for a wine server} thumb.  The punt allegedly makes allows a server to more accurately pour wine.

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

10) Finally, the true connoisseurs of wine always insist “Punts make wine taste better”.

Whatever the reason here is what I have personally discovered.  Every time I go into a liquor store I ask the clerk where is your most expensive bottle of wine.  When they point it out I pick up the bottle and check the punt.  With very few exceptions - the more expensive the bottle of wine is - the deeper the punt or kick-up is.  Go figure.

Well there you have Eba G.’s reasons for punts in wine bottles. Next time you see a bottle of wine check out the punts.  Most importantly I highly recommend you share this knowledge with your customers - believe me you will sell more wine if you do. And by all means make sure to visit or go to for more great ideas on how you can improve your professionalism or increase the sales in your bar or tavern. 

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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 sad.

Remember this: Several large screen TV's located throughout a bar does not constitute a 'Sports Bar'.

Many of my old time readers will remember that years ago, one of my very first client’s was a couple from northern Michigan.  They had gone to Jamaica for a vacation and fell in love with the Caribbean atmosphere:  the weather, the ocean, the sandy beaches but most of all a little Tiki bar they visited each day during their stay in Jamaica.  

When they returned home to Michigan they decided to buy a local bar and create a 'Tiki Bar'.  They both 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 they owned.

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

Both the husband and wife had taken part-time jobs to pay their bills and the two of them worked 90% of all the bar shifts. Unbelievably neither the husband nor the wife knew how to make any Caribbean style drinks.  No were in the bar was coconut crème, pineapple juice or any fresh fruit other then lemons. 

Tap beer, shots and mixed drinks like whiskey old fashions and Manhattans were their staple.  The juke box blared out  Country Western – but oh God this couple was proud to own the only Tiki bar in northern Michigan.   

Recently, while on another assignment I had the opportunity to visit an old colleague who asked if I’d like to grab a bite to eat.  He said he was going to take 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 a Gilligan’s Island theme bar before. 

As we pulled in the parking lot there it was - a 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 decorum 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 finally the last photo was of the Professor and Gilligan working on some kind of contraption the Professor invented as Ginger and Mary Ann watched. 

He then flashed a big smile and said “look above those doors”.  Oh my God he was right, it was amazing.  Above each one of the restroom doors were signs:  One read Mr. Howell and the other door read Mrs. Howell.  Honestly if my legs weren’t under the table I might just have floated up into space from all the excitement Gilligan's theme bar generated.

Before leaving I was able to actually meet the owner. I asked him why his staff wasn't dressed 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 - smart man! 

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

Great theme bars can be money makers where both customers and profits just roll in if done right. But a theme for a bar has to be developed, it must be cultivated and it has to be consistent.  Beer, booze and food can be purchased just about anywhere but finding a great theme bar where you can really have fun and spend lots of money are hard to find. 

'Theme bars' will always 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}