Welcome to #TheDrunkestShitEver, a weekly series where we ask bartenders the most ridiculous thing they’ve seen happen inside a bar. Unsurprisingly, these barkeeps have witnessed some pretty drunk shit, and they’d like to share their finest tales of debauchery, epicness, and idiocy with you.
Name: Ryan Virag
Bartending resume: Ryan has been bartending since the “end of the 20th century.” He’s worked at Balthazar, APT, Santos Party House, and the Hudson Hotel. He opened Tender Trap in February of last year with his partner, BMX legend Darryl Nau.
What is the drunkest shit you’ve ever seen at a bar?
Virag says: This happened during a Wednesday night at APT thrown by Rich Medina. It was called, like, “Little Richie’s Red Shack.” It was a really, really popular night; it went on for years. I was being berated the entire night by this incredibly obnoxious, wasted British neo-soul chick. Nothing could go right that I could do. Every drink, I either watered it down, it didn’t have enough alcohol—”are you sure you put alcohol in it?” No tipping, five rounds in a row. And I’ve got a pretty high tolerance for stuff, just because in the industry, usually, it gets paid forward. I just ignore people who suck, and someone good comes along.
At the end of the night, she had accused me of taking her credit card and I wouldn’t return it, and I said I didn’t have it. She was having a huge fuckin’ fit. And I was like look, bitch—first of all, you paid cash and you didn’t tip, and I don’t have your fuckin’ credit card. So in this exasperated, dramatic move, she put her head down on the bar to show how frustrated she was. And she put her head into a votive candle, and her entire fucking head lit up like a match. It was crazy, she was going to be burned. Whatever product she had, she just lit up.
Below me was a slop sink, which is the three-compartment sink you have behind bars. This was in the era, too, when you could smoke at a bar, so in the bottom of the sink was limes, straws, cigarette butts, everything. Just gnarly. And there was a rag floating in the bottom of it. As soon as her head lit up, I picked the rag up, and I grabbed it by each corner and just slapped her in the head with it as hard as I could. You know, to put the fire out. Basically, when this lime- and ash- and straw-ridden rag was pulled from her head and half her afro was gone, she started hysterically crying and vomited on herself, I think just from the shock of what had happened. In my opinion, it was probably one of the best rewards for being a shithead at the bar. This was the gnarliest hep-C rag to hit somebody with. But it extinguished the fire, she was safe. She basically lost the right side of her afro.
Ryan had such good drunk tales, we decided he deserved a bonus story. Hit the next page to hear about the time some romantic flirtations literally went to shit…
Back in—I can’t remember the year, it was probably 1998 I think—I was working at a restaurant called Eugene’s. It opened in the Flatiron District, and it was this mega-nightclub and restaurant. I had started the bar back there. It was bottle service and incredible opulence—sort of that era when all that bottle service happened and drinks got expensive. Pre-Brooklyn kind of shit.
It was probably my second shift behind the bar, and there was a girl there who was by herself. I was, I guess, giving her a lot of attention and buying her drinks. I was just super young, she was older and super-cute. We were chatting it up, and things were going in a direction towards romance. It was a floating bar at the time, which is a bar that’s open on both sides, so you have customers in front of you and behind you at the same time. I had turned around to take care of some other customers, and this wretched stench just hit the club. Just something that was so human that it was undeniable what it was.
Doing a quick 180 to figure out what was going on, the girl I had been talking to was now dead asleep on her arms—like, face-down—on the bar. So, while trying to figure out what the stench was, and also realizing that one of my customers had just blacked out and gone face-down on the bar, I shook her, like, abruptly. Kind of to just be like, “Honey, are you okay?” And she stood up a little bit. She was sort of wearing a long dress, and her ass was sort of hanging off the stool. So she had basically been filling her dress up with excrement. Basically, I had unleashed it, because when I woke her up, she stood up real quick. And it just all hit the floor.
There’s really no way to make the situation any better than to fully realize what’s going on, take care of it immediately, and remove the person and try and get them safely to a place to change themselves. Like a giant baby. It was the hardest job I ever put onto a barback—was to go get a hotel pan to clean up this woman’s excrement on the floor. Needless to say, I didn’t get her phone number. And she didn’t return to apologize, either.