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Hampton Forge = WoW!

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 26, 2009

While I am still in pursuits to become a host, I work as a bartender for my primary source of income. I started over 3½ years ago and it is a perfect fit for my lifestyle. I've always worked in the service industry, because it has been great while seeking modeling/acting/spokesperson gigs. The scheduling is very flexible and, if a last-minute audition arises, you just get someone to cover or switch your shift. With bartending, I work mainly nights, so I am usually able to do both the audition and work in the same day.

Most bars will have any tools you'll need: shakers, bottle-openers, wine keys, etc. One of the bars that I worked had an established bartender who had been doing it for +10 years. The first time I met him, he came into work with his own little "kit" of shakers, openers, and other accessories. I couldn't help but think, "Is this dude serious?" And God forbid if you should touch his equipment! (I guess) I had gotten a bunch of different martini orders at one point and used one of his shakers. I immediately washed it when I was finished and put it back, when one of the other bartenders came up to me and said, "You used his shaker! Watch out!" But he didn't yell at me; he actually thanked me for being responsible with it and told me he had them for so long and was always paranoid to loose the pieces. He was actually a really cool guy and I felt like an ass for my initial reaction to his supplies.

Not too long after, I received a personal bar ensemble, as a gift from my mom. The main item was a HUGE stainless steel martini shaker that makes me smile. Most of the steel ones at the bars were smaller, and only hold one drink, or a small order of shooters. Or, the large ones do not have a top; you need to use a rocks glass or a pint glass to seal the drink(s). Which is not an issue, but now I had a large one WITH a top & cap. So, I brought it to work one day.

It was really easy and efficient for me to have at work, and it soon became an extension of my arm. I wouldn't even have to eye-measure my drinks; I could "feel" if it was the right amount. It became a necessity for me to bring my shaker to work, because all others shakers were inferior! I didn't mind if other co-workers borrowed it, but I found myself going, "Where's the cap?!" every time it was absent from my little assistant. I was so worried to loose any pieces, but I always did a good job of watching over, and kept it together.

I started a new job and of course, brought my shaker with me. Other bartenders asked me, Oh, you bring your own shaker? You know we have some here?" I smiled back, knowing they were thinking the same thing I thought when I first saw the bartender with his own kit. "I'm just used to this one..." I would reply.

A month ago, on Chicago's biggest bar night of the year, Black Wednesday, we had a new barback. He didn't know about the value of my shaker. And at some point during the busy night, he washed my shaker (as if it were one of the bars'!) and lost the cap. I searched right after it happened, but couldn't find it anywhere behind the bar. And I couldn't spend too much time looking for it, because customers were waiting for drinks. This happened once or twice before. "It'll turn up." I said. But it didn't. At the end of the night, I got a flashlight and scoured the crevices behind the bar; it was no where to be found. Disappointed is an understatement. But I kept hope: maybe it would turn up later in the week. NOPE.

The shaker is big, so none of the standard caps fit the top; not even those plastic shot cups. The shaker is pretty much useless without the cap. I mean, I guess I could swivel the liquid in it? Oh, hell no!

Luckily, I have an awesome visual memory and, with a bit of Googling, I was able to find the exact box from the bar ensemble and discovered that the shaker was a "Hampton Forge" product. Another quick Google search led me to their company website (www.HamptonForge.com), where I contacted customer service to see if I could purchase a replacement cap. I sent the email and figured I would get a response in a couple days. Well, I got a response within the hour!

I corresponded with Patricia, who told me that they did not sell replacement parts, but that she would look into any potential damaged items to see if a cap could be salvaged. Wow. That was pretty neat that she'd be willing to do that! I was grateful. Later in the week, Patricia emailed me again to keep me updated that nothing had turned up yet. Bummer! Still, I was appreciative that she was taking the time to look. I figured it was not going to happen, but they had my info and it something did turn up, they would send it. I contemplated just buying a whole new shaker ensemble, just to get the cap. It was an option in the future, but for now, I would just use what was already in the bar.

A couple days before Christmas, I get a package in the mail. When I first saw the brown box, I racked my brain trying to think of what the hell I bought! I had already received the packages from the online purchases I had recently made. What was missing? I looked at the return address and saw Hampton Forge. No way! I grabbed a box cutter, and was complete taken aback when I saw that they has sent me the entire shaker ensemble! No way!!! I look for an invoice, and all that was there was a complimentary replacement program description. NO WAY. How cool is this??! I can't believe that they sent me a whole set! Especially with the economy. I'm still in shock from the surprise. I'm not a big Christmas-person, but this was so cool to receive, right before the holiday. SO awesome!

A HUMONGOUS THANK YOU to Patricia and Hampton Forge for totally hooking it up!!!

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