I have been working at bars and restaurants for over 11 years and I’ve worked at many different types of establishments. I’ve worked at The City Bar on State Street which, if I do say so myself, is an elevated college bar. I’ve worked at a diver bar in Chicago where I didn’t ever receive a paycheck. I’ve worked at a butcher shop/restaurant/bar/event space in Wicker Park that first got me interested in cocktails and made me realize that I could probably make a career out of bartending. I’ve worked for a medium (soon to be large)-sized restaurant group in Chicago as a bartender, manager, and assistant to the beverage director. I’ve worked at a neighborhood restaurant/bar in NE Minneapolis and now at a French bistro in the western suburbs of Minneapolis.
Each of these places have had a different atmosphere and I’ve met friends there who have remained close even after I left. I’ve learned more about people and how they operate than I have about beer, wine, or spirits (and I know a lot about beer, wine, and spirits). I think working in the hospitality industry, for a minimum of a year, should be mandatory for every person living in America just because I think it would allow everyone to be more empathetic at bars and restaurants when things go wrong. I also think it would make people more empathetic in general since most of the patient and kind people I know work at bars (my wife worked at the Nitty Gritty for five years, natch).
I bring all of this up because I’ve noticed some things changing in my industry and I don’t necessarily like it. The rise of the “celebrity chef” in the ‘80s and the subsequent “chef worship” and all that it entails made the restaurant industry an interesting place. Chefs were trying to balance fame and fortune with cooking good food and providing a welcoming and hospitable experience for guests.
Bartenders are slowly, but surely, gaining notoriety outside of the “bar and restaurant circle” and I think it has negatively affected the industry. How many times have you gone to a bar and been afraid to ask the bartender what a listed ingredient is because you saw him or her sneer at another guest at the bar for asking an innocuous question? It has happened to me and I am a bartender! My No. 1 goal when you sit at my bar is to make sure you have your best experience. I don’t want to give you my best experience, because I like some weird shit in my drinks that not a lot of other people like, and also because when you are a guest at my bar I want you to leave happier than when you arrived.
Hospitality is king. Famed New York restauranteur Danny Meyer said that and he couldn’t be more right. Why would I go out for a drink if I’m just going to insulted? I wouldn’t, that’s why. One of my favorite voices in the bartending world is Jim Meehan, a graduate of Wisconsin and a former Paul’s Club and State Street Brats employee. He helped jumpstart the cocktail revival when he opened PDT in New York and he just published a book called Meehan’s Bartender’s Manual that describes, in meticulous detail, everything that I do for a living. If you’ve ever wondered what it takes to be a bartender or operate a bar, or if you just want a peek behind the curtain and to get some great recipes out of the deal, I suggest picking up his book.
Any good bartender will be happy to discuss ingredients or cocktail techniques with you, unless they’re three-deep at the bar and someone just ordered a Ramos Gin Fizz ... then you can fuck right off.
S&P+ rank: 62nd overall, 102nd offense, 33rd defense
Last week’s result: (L) vs. No. 9 Wisconsin 45–17
Biggest strength: The Ultimate B1G Bridesmaid came out swinging against Wisconsin and were even winning for a good portion of the first half, but I think you all know how this story ends and not because you were watching the game since Wisconsin was playing. It ended how it always ends for Indiana when they play a good team that everyone had put on UPSET ALERT throughout the week because IU has “looked feisty against top teams this year” and eventually they have to break through. False.
Anyways, Tegray Scales had a monster game with 12 tackles (2.5 for loss), one sack, and one pick (in the endzone, no less) and so did Chase Dutra, who recorded 15 tackles. Robert McCray III also wreaked havoc on Wisconsin’s o-line, bringing Alex Hornibrook down for two sacks.
Biggest weakness: Indiana’s rushing attack was anemic but was led by retired baseball great Alex Rodriguez, who was later seen at the Miami game wearing a Turnover Chain. Big day for A-Rod! Richard Lagow was fine? I don’t really know. He threw two touchdowns but also two interceptions ... he probably sucked.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 11 a.m.: at Illinois
S&P+ rank: 97th overall, 73rd offense, 88th defense
Last week’s result: (L) at Rutgers 31–24
Biggest strength: Christ on a bike, Maryland! I can’t even muster up much more outrage than that because you are the stupidest team in the conference and of course you’d lose to Rutgers. The Terps outgained Rutgers, had more time of possession, and had fewer turnovers. In the B1G, that’s a recipe for a W, baby! But, as we’ve quickly found out ... Maryland eats major butt and should be sent back to the ACC or AAC or Big East or wherever the hell they came from. My favorite quarterback in the country, Max Bortlicenseplate, got dinged up and the Terps got to play their fourth QB of the season! Woof.
Biggest weakness: Maryland had almost double the amount of penalties as Rutgers and gave up 57% on third down to the Scarlet Knights’ offense. You can’t keep giving Giovanni Ribisi, who I assume quarterbacks Rutgers when he is not filming the next four (!!!!) Avatar films, chances. Was there really a demand for four more of those movies? If anyone can name one character from that movie without looking it up, I’ll send them a printed out and signed copy of this blog post as well as a piece of Drew Hamm Memorabilia.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.: vs. Michigan
S&P+ rank: 21st overall, 58th offense, 13th defense
Last week’s result: (W) vs. Minnesota 33–10
Biggest strength: The running game. Karan Higdon had 200 yards, two touchdowns, and averaged 12.5 yards per carry. Chris Evans ran for 191 yards, two touchdowns, and averaged 14.7 yards per carry. You guys. Jonathan Taylor might rush for 500 yards vs. Minnesota. Khaleke Hudson recorded 13 tackles (6.5 for loss!!!!) and two sacks. “[Hudson] was everywhere he was supposed to be,” head coach Jim Harbaugh said after the game. Maybe Jim Leonhard should trying telling Leon Jacobs to always be in opposing backfields. /100 thinking face emojis
Biggest weakness: We spend every waking moment bitching and moaning about our quarterback sitch at Wisconsin when we should just look a little to the east and see how bad it could really be. Brandon Peters mustered 56 yards passing. Total. For the entire game. I guess he didn’t throw an interception and did throw a touchdown, and he had two running backs averaging more than a first down per carry. If I were him, I’d just audible to a running play every time I was supposed to throw and look like a danged genius. The Wolverines had two different players catch a pass and gain zero yards. If you ever feel like your life is going nowhere, look at Michigan’s passing offense and feel better about yourself.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.: at Maryland
S&P+ rank: 22nd overall, 89th offense, 9th defense
Last week’s result: (W) vs. No. 7 Penn State 27–24
Biggest strength: In a game that was delayed three hours and 22 minutes by lightning and presumably rain, these two teams combined for 801 yards passing. 400 of those yards were from the arm of Brian Lewerke, who added 25 rushing yards for good measure. Felton Davis III had 12 catches for 181 yards and a TD. The D forced three turnovers and held “Heisman candidate” Saquon Barkley to 116 total yards (20 passing, 33 receiving, 63 rushing) and zero touchdowns (zero passing, zero receiving, zero rushing).
Biggest weakness: Every conference game they’ve played has been decided by one score or less. Winning five of those six games is highly unlikely and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ohio State mete out some Beyoncé-in-Lemonade-style vengeance on the Spartans, who can’t keep winning by the skin of their teeth ... right?
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 11 a.m.: at No. 13 Ohio State
S&P+ rank: 2nd overall, 4th offense, 20th defense
Last week’s result: (L) at Iowa 55–24 (I’m sorry, what?)
Biggest weakness: Just ... everything. OMG did aOsu get steamrolled by Iowa (!!!), and “steamrolled” might be too mild of a term. The Buckeyes had a steamroller fall on their heads and then the steamroller rolled back and forth over their dead bodies for three-plus hours. I don’t know why Ohio State thought that they could just stroll in Kinnick Stadium in November as a top-10 team and win. That’s against the rules. J.T. Barrett threw four interceptions and the Buckeyes allowed Iowa to score 55 points against them. The same Iowa who in three of their last four games couldn’t muster more than 17 points (including one game that went into OT where they scored 10). The same Iowa who would rather punt on third down if the distance is too long. The same Iowa that is coached by Kirk Freaking Ferentz, the most conservative, B1Gest, overpaid lunkhead in the damn country. I turned this game off because it was too big of a blowout. I didn’t even get to revel in the fact that aOsu got their doors blown off because it was TOO MUCH of a beatdown. Screw you forever, Buckeyes.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 11 a.m.: vs. No. 12 Michigan State
S&P+ rank: 10th overall, 22nd offense, 15th defense
Last week’s result: (L) at No. 24 Michigan State 27–24
Biggest strength: DaeSean Hamilton and DeAndre Thompkins each had a touchdown and over 100 receiving yards. My wife often starts stories by asking me a question like, “Do you want to hear something weird?” or, “Do you want to see something gross?” and I’ve gotten to the point where I just say, “No,” and then she says/shows me whatever anyway. Communication is key in any relationship, kids. So, before we sat down to watch the rudderless Packers on MNF this week, she says to me, while pouring chocolate chips into a bowl for our dessert, “Can I tell you where I found a chocolate chip earlier today?” I was feeling frisky so I indulged her, and hoo boy am I glad I did.
“It was by the toilet.”
“WHY WERE YOU EATING CHOCOLATE CHIPS WHILE USING THE TOILET?!?!?”
“I don’t know!”
By this point, we are both hysterically laughing and she goes to grab the loose chip from the bathroom while I contemplate the fact that I married a woman who eats dessert in the bathroom. Turns out it was just a piece of dog food from when my graceful brother-in-law tripped and spilled an entire container on Saturday evening after a day of watching riveting B1G football. I’m now 51% sure my wife doesn’t eat ice cream with full toppings in the bathroom.
Biggest weakness: I would like to present to you a quote: “I think there’s a lot of noise that we try to manage. When things are going well there’s a lot of noise, a lot of positivity, a lot of patting on the back,” Nittany Lions coach James Franklin said. “When you lose the game it’s the complete opposite. It couldn’t be more negative. For us in the past we haven’t worried about all those things. There’s playoff rankings coming out. There’s this, there’s that. Stuff that doesn't matter.”
Now I’d like to regale you with a story from ESPN’s Dan Murphy about the Lions’, ostensibly, best player from the same day! Saquon Barkley spent much of the break trying to catch candy in his mouth that had been thrown by his teammates. Then, after the game resumed, MSU linebacker Chris Frey had this tasty tidbit: “Ohio State is losing. They’re down big,” Barkley told Frey. “We’re playing for a championship right now.”
Coach Franklin wants it to be made clear that his team doesn’t care about “rankings” or “noise” or “this” or “that” and in the middle of the damn game Barkley is ... what, checking Twitter or scoreboard watching? YOU ARE PLAYING FOR THE MOST BEAUTIFUL TROPHY IN ALL OF SPORTS, SAQUON! GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR ASS! Not the actions of a Heisman candidate tbqh. Eating candy? Disrespecting the Land-Grant Trophy? Pshh, shameful.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 11 a.m.: vs. Rutgers
S&P+ rank: 82nd overall, 113th offense, 40th defense
Last week’s result: (W) vs. Maryland 31–24
Biggest strength: I don’t know what happened in this game for Rutgers, nor do I care to look it up, but know this: the Scarlet Knights now have three B1G wins and if they can start keeping players like, well, every great Wisconsin running back since Ron Dayne in state ... look ouHAHAHAHAHAHA, who am I kidding? Rutgers is always gonna suck.
Biggest weakness: My daughter has started to poop actual logs and my goodness is it disconcerting to see the size of them compared to the size of her. She deuces like a grown man that just drank a pot of coffee. I am awfully proud when she has a full diaper though. It’s probably best that I have my wife to offset whatever nonsense I’ll end up filling my daughter’s head with. Although, my wife tried to convince me recently that the fart I accused her of dropping was actually me smelling myself because I hadn’t showered all day. It almost worked too, but I’m a man who is well-versed in stink and I knew what I smelled. I’m sure my wife is going to love that I’ve now talked about her farting and eating dessert on the toilet. Mike, as always, please don’t actually post this article and just continue telling me that you did.
(Editor’s note: You got it, Drew.)
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 11 a.m.: vs. No. 14 Penn State
S&P+ rank: 114th overall, 122nd offense, 76th defense
Last week’s result: (L) at Purdue 29–10
Biggest strength: It’s time for your weekly Does Lovie Smith Know That He Is Coaching A B1G Football Team Quote: “Being able to put two halves together is what we’re lacking right now. We haven’t been able to figure that out.” See, here he could be talking about a missing half of a sandwich or perhaps a complicated math problem that one of the students at Illinois is trying to figure out. You never know with Lovie!
Biggest weakness: Illinois S&P+ offensive ranking keeps getting lower and lower and I’m excited to finally learn how many FBS teams there are when we see their final ranking. THE SUSPENSE IS KILLING ME, ILLINI! I’m going back to Philly on Sunday so my daughter can see where I grew up and also to see her aunt and grandparents. While I’m quite excited for all of that, I’m mostly excited to get a DiNic’s roast pork sandwich at the Reading Terminal Market. Cheesesteaks are great and I love them, but DiNic’s roast pork sandwich is the best sandwich on the East Coast and probably in the country. Fight me if you disagree. Wawa makes the second-best sandwich in the country. #SheetzSucksAndSoDoesPittsburgh
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 11 a.m.: vs. Indiana
S&P+ rank: 35th overall, 78th offense, 19th defense
Last week’s result: (W) at No. 6 Ohio State 55–24 (R U KIDDING ME?!?!)
Biggest strength: I have no idea what happened in this game. Menomonie, Wisconsin’s own Nathan Stanley threw five touchdowns (and zero interceptions) and now has 22 TDs (to four picks) on the season. Akrum Wadley had 158 total yards. Two different receivers caught two touchdowns. Joshua Jackson snared three interceptions. The Hawkeyes outgained the Buckeyes 487–371. The Hawkeyes had nearly 10 more minutes of possession. The Hawkeyes turned the ball over zero times. The Hawkeyes had fewer penalties and more first downs. They DOMINATED this game. I was more surprised by this outcome than I was when we first met Olivia Pope’s father on Scandal ... which was really surprising.
Biggest weakness: Um, r u kidding me? None. Wisconsin better be ready on Saturday because the home team always loses in this rivalry recently and Iowa is feeling themselves right now. Let’s head on over to Drew’s NBA Corner! As I sit here watching Suns-Nets on League Pass, I’ve started to think that I might need to do a ranking of in-arena hosts. You know the people that ask the trivia questions and get people pumped up during a fan’s attempt to make a half-court shot? Phoenix’s guy has a really nice afro. I’m putting him first for now. So, uh, that trade to the Celtics has certainly worked out pretty well for Kyrie so far? The C’s have won nine games in a row and the Cavs are two games under .500 and in 12th place in the Eastern Conference, which is similar to the lowly B1G East in terms of quality. My new hometown team is in second in the Western Conference and I’m squealing with excitement for when the Sixers come to town in a month and Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns face off. BREAKING NBA TRADE NEWS! The Bucks have traded for disgruntled Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe, which is a great fit for them, and they didn’t give up any of their other young pieces (they traded a first-round pick and backup center Greg Monroe and maybe a second-round pick too). Hopefully the hair salons are better in Milwaukee than Phoenix or Bledsoe will be pissed.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.: at No. 8 Wisconsin
Minnesota Golden Gophers
S&P+ rank: 81st overall, 117th offense, 31st defense
Last week’s result: (L) at Michigan 33–10
Biggest strength: They had more passing yards than Michigan did! Demry Croft threw for
/frantically shifts papers around on my desk
74 yards passing! The Gophers dominated time of possession because Michigan’s running backs were too busy running for 60-yard touchdowns. They also only had one fewer first down than Michigan because of the same reason (Michigan out-gained the Gophers 427–164).
Biggest weakness: Hmm, I feel like I already listed the weaknesses above.
The Gophers had a player ejected for punching an opponent. I don’t know how many times it has to be mentioned, so let me yell it for everyone in the back: PUNCHING PEOPLE IN FOOTBALL DOESN’T WORK BECAUSE EVERYONE IS WEARING ARMOR BASICALLY! Take your helmet off and swing that at someone, like a grown up. Shit. Also, the football coach-equivalent of the guy you know that cheers for the Cowboys, Lakers, Duke, Yankees, and Alabama, P.J. Fleck, said, “That’s not our culture. That’s not acceptable.” Hey Coach, did you watch a single game your team played last year?
Bonus weakness!!!!: After I submitted this to be edited, a friend on Facebook posted this picture:
This is his version of “what success looks like.” I have SO MANY QUESTIONS! 1) How long before the press conference did he draw this graph? 2) What kind of colored pencil did he use? 3) Does he have the complete set of colored pencils or did he steal one from a child? 4) How many seasons is the original decline? 5) How many seasons is the entire graph? 6) Why are there no labels on either axis? 7) Does P.J. Fleck know what an “x-axis” is? 8) Why isn’t the end of the graph any higher than the beginning of the graph, which is presumably this season ... where the Gophers suck ... and are also really terrible? 9) Will this tweet be used in the inevitable kidnapping case against Fleck next season?
P.J. on in state recruiting: "We have to keep everyone in the state. I need people's help to keep them in state."— Minnesota Football (@GopherFootball) November 7, 2017
10) WHY DO YOU MAKE IT SO HARD FOR ME TO WRITE JOKES ABOUT YOUR DUMB, DUMB FOOTBALL PROGRAM BY MAKING REALITY MORE HILARIOUS THAN ANYTHING I COULD COME UP WITH!?!?!?!? GO SCREW, FLECK!
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 11 a.m.: vs. Nebraska
S&P+ rank: 78th overall, 75th offense, 73rd defense
Last week’s result: (L) vs. Northwestern 31–24 (OT)
Biggest strength: Marcus Newby returned a pick for a touchdown and they have a player named Chris Weber on defense, who I have to imagine is not in charge of calling timeouts. Tanner Lee returned to his true form and barfed up three interceptions to Northwestern’s defense and then got sacked in overtime to basically end the game. I wonder what people in 1997 would say if I told them at some point, literally any point, in the future Northwestern would win three of four games at Memorial Stadium against Nebraska. They’d probably say, “Whoa, that’s crazy, but what happens with Ross and Rachel?”
Biggest weakness: It’s almost time to start taking family photos for Christmas cards. There is nothing I HATE more than posing for family photos for Christmas cards. It is so dumb! Everyone knows what I look like and no one wants to be reminded of it. One year, I threw a tantrum during a family photo session and stormed off to a food truck and bought an exotic alligator sausage. This was, like, two years ago by the way. My wife’s family even decided to do the photo at a brewery so I’d be placated and it didn’t work. I’m a monster. Anyways, now that we have a daughter, she’s the only member of my family that people want a picture of and I love her more and more each day that I remember this fact. It’s the best part of fatherhood and I don’t think it’s even close. I’ve taken one good Christmas picture in my life and it was last year and I was allowed to be drinking eggnog (WHICH IS AMAZING, F THE HATERS!) during it.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 11 a.m.: at Minnesota
S&P+ rank: 64th overall, 82nd offense, 43rd defense
Last week’s result: (W) at Nebraska 31–24 (OT)
Biggest strength: Winning games in overtime. It’s a little embarrassing that it took them extra time to beat Nebraska, but every team has an off week. Justin Jackson ran for 154 yards and Jeremy Larkin scampered for a #nice amount in relief. Kyle Queiro had two interceptions and defended three other passes.
Biggest weakness: The 30 for 30 on Ric Flair that aired last night is must-see television. Flair is as entertaining in the ring as he is tragic outside of it. Read this article from The Charlotte Observer with some choice quotes from the people interviewed for the documentary and you’ll start to wonder if the fame was worth it for Flair. He claims he drank around 15 drinks a day for 19 years and slept with 10,000 women. If that’s not some good, old-fashioned “void filling,” I don’t know what is. I love Ric Flair the wrestler and I was really excited that he was in Madison for GameDay last year, but I want to hug Richard Fliehr the person.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 6 p.m.: vs. Purdue
S&P+ rank: 38th overall, 62nd offense, 30th defense
Last week’s result: (W) vs. Illinois 29–10
Biggest strength: Purdue’s defense had five sacks (Danny Ezechukwu had two of them) and picked off Jeff George, Jr., once, as is their right as a team that played against Jeff George, Jr. They ran for 208 yards as a team, which seems good until you realize that Jonathan Taylor can do that by himself and barely break a sweat.
Biggest weakness: Starting quarterback David Blough got hurt and is out for the season with a leg injury. That sucks. It will leave him with plenty of time to go see Thor: Ragnarok though, and that’s pretty cool. I won’t be able to see it in theaters because 7.5-month-old babies don’t like to sit still for that long, even though Chris Hemsworth has a lovely accent, so if any of you post spoilers about the movie in the next six months, I’ll freak on you. Speaking of posting things, thanks for not posting any clown pictures in the comments last week. I figured once I asked for y’all not to do that it would have been a literal circus down there. I’m proud of us.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 6 p.m.: at Northwestern
S&P+ rank: 6th overall, 30th offense, 6th defense
Last week’s result: (W) at Indiana 45–17
Biggest strength: Jonathan Taylor aka All-Time B1G Freshman of the Week aka Yung Yards After Contact aka Dat Dude Da Heisman Hopeful aka The Bull In The China Shop Who Doesn’t Knock Anything Over Because He Is Also Really Nimble ... alright, that last one needs work, but you get the idea. Anywho, Taylor rumbled for 183 yards and a touchdown and is amazing. Alec Ingold had three touchdowns on five touches (four rushes, six yards, two touchdowns, one catch 18 yards, one touchdown). Remember when I said Jake Funk had the “Most B1G Stat Line” last week for Maryland? Ingold must’ve read that and gotten pissed. I’m sorry, Alec. You are the “Most B1G Stat Line” winner forever now. Joe Ferguson had two picks and leads the team with four total, and also recovered a fumble. Someone in the comments here over the weekend mentioned Andrew Van Ginkel and how he was exactly what we needed/expected. I agree wholeheartedly, that guy is great. Underrated strength: Derrick Tindal looked solid returning kicks. He averaged almost 27 yards per return. That’s pretty good!
Biggest weakness: Staying healthy. The real part of Wisconsin’s schedule starts on Saturday and Quintez Cephus and Chris Orr have already been ruled out. D’Cota Dixon is questionable and Garrett Rand might miss the game too. These are important players to Wisconsin’s success and them missing significant time would be tough to stomach for the Badgers.
The Badgers also dropped in the AP poll despite remaining undefeated and winning over the weekend. I wonder how often that has happened this late in the season in the history of the AP poll? While there is no need to panic, because beating Iowa should be the team’s one and only priority, I don’t play for the team and I’m a tiny bit concerned. Would a 13–0, B1G Champion Wisconsin be left out of the CFP if Notre Dame was 11–1 and undefeated Alabama and undefeated Georgia played an exciting, one-score, SEC title game and Oklahoma or Clemson was a 12–1 conference champion? I don’t know the answer, but the “Wisconsin wins and they’re in” crowd should probably start cheering for an upset or two.
Most importantly, did anyone post this on social media on Saturday? I forgot to do it.
This week’s schedule: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.: vs. No. 20 Iowa