What in the hell do we do with our hands?!

As most Australian bars patially re-open this week, Charlie Lehmann from Ramblin Rascals is waiting for muscle memory to kick in behind the stick

By: Tiff Christie|June 2,2020

Standing behind a bar is second nature to some of us. A natural domain where we sling and shake … do people still muddle? We’ll say muddle. And pull and pour cascading streams of mother nature’s nectars. AND these are but some of the tasks guests and patrons see.

Behind all the flair and incredible banter, chat, ribbing and palaver there is a plethora of inane, essential tasks that we must perform to keep the cogs of our venues turning.


We’ve been off the tools for the longest of times. I don’t even think Picasso went this long without a paintbrush in his damn hand but part of me sighed a sense of relief to have some dimension of respite when the restrictions were put in place.

Our industry is a relentless beast, burning the candle at both ends, late nights, early mornings, drinks, meetings, profit/loss records, more drinks. A never-ending stream of content, class, raising a glass and we do it week in, week out.

In the beginning, Iso was a new concept the body and mind had not encountered since living at home with Ma’. A regular sleep schedule, three square meals a day and dabbling in raising greenery.

Drinking at home never sat well with me unless it’s 3am and we are sitting ’round my table solving the world’s problems, a Petri dish away from curing Covid-19.

Locked inside a one-bedroom apartment had its perks, ghetto workouts every day consisting of push-ups and sit-ups till I got bored, and ended up watching 2 Chainz Most Expensivest. These everyday activities drifting me further from the skills that I’d honed for the better part of a decade.

As we stand on the precipice of reopening, if only partially, what in the hell do we do with our hands?! Thankfully, other stalwarts of the industry (big ups to Alice Newport and Cam Pirret in particular) have been in contact over the lockdown period and I’ve had to pick up a jigger for various social videos and public service announcements.


Muscle memory is key, like raising a middy of Reschs to the tips of your lips, except you have to remember to garnish first, prep your glassware and start with citrus or least expensive ingredients before you start sloshing ’round your booze.

Its back-to-basics bartending and there’ll be plenty of small things we may have put out of our mind but will most definitely come flooding back once we have our first bums parked on seats in front of us.

If you are concerned at all with a slip in skill or nervousness about jumping behind a bar again roll over to Fortunate Son in Enmore. Jason Crawley and Dylan Howarth have 30 years of globetrotting, bartending nouse that I’m sure they’d be happy to pass on to you.

I assume their rigorous stretching routine pre and post-shift is what keeps them most nimble, slinging fine ass drinks around their humble rock n roll saloon and a fair amount of whiskey or tequila depending on who you talk to. The rust wears but you never really lose the knack, just like riding a bike or whipping a sour.

The bigger challenge comes to when we open our venues and the precipitation of issues unforeseen in our post-COVID-19 world. Staring at floor plans to employ social distancing measures, delivery systems for food in what was a hygienic but is now a hyper-hygienic expectation of servers and guests alike. Landlords dropping by to see the spaces they own turn alive again but also demanding rent the first of the month.

These are the things that will have you tossing and turning at night while you squeeze your eyes closed so you can get up and do it all again. I wouldn’t change that for the world so long as we get to see bums on seats and jovial, inebriated celebrations we can hang in this post COVID world.

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