It's pointless to plunge into the holiday bacchanalia with dead weight — namely, an insignificant other who doesn't need to meet nosy Auntie Gertrude at the family potluck. That's why it's important to squelch fizzling relationships before the season gets too far underway, preferably with help from people on the front line of romantic implosions: bartenders. "We're really psychiatrists," says the Emerald Lounge's Teodora Bakardzhieva. "People break up at bars because there's an audience. They can get support and milk it." She and several other hardy mixologists told us how to end a romance right.
TEODORA BAKARDZHIEVA OF THE EMERALD LOUNGE
Helpful Advice: "The holidays really are the time to decide, 'Should I deal with this person or not?' If you decide to end it, do it on a weekend. It's louder."
Field Notes: "As a bartender at Locke-Ober, [I found] some guys didn't want their dates to see them drinking. They'd sneak to the bar, order a martini, chug it in the bathroom, and then return to their table to do whatever they needed to do."
Breakup Beverage: "I make a cocktail called the Fallen Angel, with bourbon and honey syrup. It washes down the sorrow."
ALEX HOMANS OF BACKBAR
Helpful Advice: "If you're bringing someone to a bar to break up, at least pay for their drink."
Field Notes: "I was bartending at Russell House Tavern. A couple was sitting together. Suddenly, it turned into a shrieking match. The guy stood up, screamed, and left. The entire dining room was silent."
Act of Kindness: "I'll send my favorite dish to people who look upset. I'll make it seem like I want them to try it because I like it, not because it's a sympathetic gesture."
Breakup Beverage: "At Backbar, there's a drink called the Model T. It's a variation on a Manhattan — boozy enough to kill your pain but also a bit spicy and sweet. It numbs your feelings but tastes good."
LORI STITCH OF THE TIP TAP ROOM
Field Notes: "A gentleman came in, and shortly thereafter his girlfriend walked in. He very nicely ordered drinks, but he seemed nervous. I thought he was going to propose. Instead, they started arguing. The whole time, he's incredibly polite to me. Finally, I asked if they needed anything else. He thanked me, asked my name, and hit on me — she's looking at me like I'm moving in on her territory. Ultimately, he paid and left. She stayed behind and cried. I poured her a shot of Jameson. She wiped her eyes, took the shot, and walked out."
Breakup Beverage: "I always offer whiskey, or Blanton's bourbon if things seem really bad."
TOM TELLIER OF DANTE
Field Notes: "Two ladies were obviously breaking up. One stood up, slapped the other one, and came right to the bar. I just poured her a shot of bourbon on the rocks. Sometimes I've had to bring out chefs during brawls, because people are scared of chefs."
Act of Kindness: "I've Ubered for people a million times. I don't care about the $20. If someone's drinking away their sorrows, I'd rather know that they got home safely."
Breakup Beverage: "We do a hard cider, made with my own apple vodka, with cloves, cinnamon, allspice. It's like a relationship: cozy and warm, but if you drink too many, it'll punch you in the face."