Jungkook’s refilling the ice bucket, running back and forth, back and forth, trying his hardest to step around the bar patrons. Behind him, Seokjin flits around, running to and from the kitchen like a beheaded chicken, carrying trays on his broad shoulders. Jungkook tries to help Seokjin when he can, when Yoongi’s good on the ice, but the bar gets so busy he doesn’t get a break. By the time he brings the bar glasses back to the kitchen, there’s a few dozen more waiting for him on Yoongi’s counter.
Jungkook has no clue how Seokjin and Yoongi were able to hold down the fort before they hired him and Jisung. Granted, the bar’s only about the size of his studio apartment so just two people manning the front was probably fine at first. But then Yoongi’s regulars started coming, following him from Yoongi’s old bar, and once the regulars settled back in, people poked their heads in out of curiosity. Now the bar gets so packed they have to hire a bouncer on occasion—Jungkook had originally applied for that position but Seokjin had shaken his head, muttering, “maybe if you put on just a bit more muscle” (Jungkook was quite offended). Still, they were probably desperately in need of someone so they hired him on the spot. Yoongi had nearly sobbed in relief. On Jungkook's first day, Yoongi kept crying out “thank fucking god you're here" even when Jungkook did the absolute bare minimum. That was three months ago.
Jungkook spots Yoongi waving at him from across the bar, a floating arm behind all of the bodies in line for a drink.
“Jungkook!” he yells again, his throaty baritone traveling across the room.
Jungkook speeds over with the plastic bin in hand, ready to grab some more bar glasses and empty bottles of soju but Yoongi says “screwdriver,” and Jungkook has to do a double-take.
“Uh,” he starts, “I remember seeing a wrench or something in the back? And a hammer. But—”
“Jungkook, no—JACK AND COKE—” he places it in front of a haggard-looking business man. “Screwdriver,” he says again, like it’s the most obvious thing in the world, “one part vodka, two parts orange juice.”
“…you mean you want me to make one.”
“Jungkook, shut up and grab the damn vodka—MOSCOW MULE.”
Jungkook wipes his hands on his pants before hurrying over to Yoongi’s side, grabbing a bottle of vodka from below the counter. One part vodka, two parts orange juice. Orange juice. Fridge. A cup, he needs a cup. Cup… where are the goddamn cups?
After Jungkook makes a full circle, Yoongi appears with a cup in his hands as though he sensed Jungkook’s silent panic, and Jungkook mumbles a thanks as he untwists the top of the Smirnoff bottle—”Jungkook, ice”—right. Drinks need ice first. Of course.
Jungkook shovels some ice into the mouth of the cup, pours in some vodka, and then tops the entire thing off with orange juice and, shit, it ends up being more like a one-to-one ratio but whatever. Here's hoping they're so drunk they won't notice.
“Screwdriver,” he says, and when he looks up, there’s a young woman signaling to him, waving money with one of her manicured hands. Jungkook grabs the cash, counts it briefly before he hands the drink off, and Yoongi squeezes his shoulder as if to say “good job” or “thanks”. In actuality, he says, “cranberry vodka, one to two.”
By the time Jungkook gets to catch his breath, Seokjin is upending chairs onto the cocktail tables, letting them screech and clang as he drags them across the floor. The last few stragglers nudge each other, taking it as a cue for them to leave, and Seokjin chirps a “thank you” as the door closes behind them.
Yoongi hands Jungkook a glass of water and then pours one for himself. “So first, you’re going to get your alcohol license. Because what we did just now was technically illegal.”
“And then,” Yoongi says with a quirk of his lips, “I’m gonna teach you the fun stuff.”
Seokjin overhears and sighs dramatically, “oh god, here we go again.”
For as lazy as Yoongi claims he is, he works fast. Jungkook stumbles trying to keep up with him and god knows how many times Jisung has had to sweep up glass from Jungkook’s clumsy doing. Jisung shrugs it off when Jungkook stutters a sorry, says it’s fine, but Jungkook notices he’s been leaving his broom right by the bar, as a safety precaution or something. Yoongi is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, a seasoned pro who doesn’t drop a single glass. He even flings them in the air sometimes, throwing them behind his back and catching them the way he would catch his basketball. Jungkook doesn’t have time for bar tricks. Not when Ms. Vogue is tapping her long red nails on the counter, waiting on her vodka soda while Jungkook is still struggling with another person’s Bloody Mary. In the end, Yoongi has to take over for him while Jungkook hurriedly spritzes the soda into a glass. When he finally places it on the counter before her, dipping his head in apology, her lip curls as she hands over her credit card.
Minutes later, the crowd finally dies down. Jungkook sighs with his entire body and looks over to Yoongi who’s wiping down the bar counter with a wet rag.
“How do you do it?” he groans, flopping his arms across the table like they’re dead weights.
“There’s so many people hyung, how do you even catch up? That lady was seriously gonna climb the bar and pour her drink herself if I took any longer.”
Yoongi snorts like that's the least of Jungkook's worries, and then he shrugs a bony shoulder. “I kinda guess.”
“You… guess,” Jungkook deadpans.
Yoongi stares at him then, straight on.
“Yeah,” he says, firmer this time. “I guess.”
Jungkook's face goes blank, the way it does during Yoongi’s dirty jokes, like he’s waiting for the punchline even though the joke’s already been told.
“Jungkook, what kind of drink do you think I’d get? If I were to go to a bar?”
“To be honest, if it has alcohol, you’d probably drink it.”
Yoongi gives him a withering look.
“But what would I order?”
Jungkook thinks to himself for a minute, weighs all of the options in his head. And then he says, testing, “…soju?”
When Yoongi’s mouth twists, Jungkook corrects himself.
“Whiskey. Probably something with whiskey.”
“Better,” Yoongi nods in approval. “And what about Seokjin?”
Jungkook glances over to Seokjin who’s smiling wide at a couple cozied up at the table in the corner, takes in his whole appearance from the way his eyes blink wide, listening rapturously to the customers’ stories, to the way he cocks his hip as he rattles off the menu items. Jungkook hasn’t seen Seokjin drink but he’d probably order something light and refreshing. Something that goes well with food.
“I don’t know. Like a- like a beer probably,” he waves his hand around as though it helps him explain, “or like a Moscow Mule or something.”
“Bingo,” Yoongi responds with a hint of a smile, “he likes beer a lot. Likes things made with ginger beer too.”
“Okay, but I’m serving strangers most of the time,” Jungkook says, matter-of-fact.
“That doesn’t matter. People are predictable. What they order says as much about them as what clothes they wear so if you can guess what kind of person they are, you can usually tell what their drink of choice is. I’m not saying you’re going to get it right every single time, but it’s a pretty good rule of thumb.”
“So you’re telling me to stereotype people. Basically.”
Yoongi opens his mouth. Closes it.
The door chimes open then, and Seokjin bows to a middle-aged woman who’s toting an Hermès bag in the crook of one arm. She drags her cat eye glasses up to push her dyed locks out of the way and acknowledges Seokjin with a tilt of her head.
Yoongi catches Jungkook’s eyes and juts his chin towards her. Guess, he mouths at him, and he turns away to stack some empty bottles in his arms, heading towards the kitchen.
Jungkook reads her, eyes traveling up and down her body, from the French-tipped fingers to the kitten heels that click as she struts over. She gives him a half-smile and Jungkook searches her face, young but for the crow’s feet framing her eyes. Wine—Cosmopolitan—martini? But not a flavored one.
“Hello, what can I get for you?”
“Dirty martini,” she says with a girlish voice.
Jungkook nods at her and reaches for a martini glass, and it’s only when he turns around that he smiles to himself, pleased. Yoongi comes back then, quirking an eyebrow at Jungkook who’s pouring brine juice into a glass.
“Dirty martini,” he says, dropping in an olive garnish.
She thanks him, sandwiches her card in between two fingers for him to take. When Jungkook runs her card through the machine, Yoongi takes in Jungkook’s puffed chest and self-satisfied grin and chuckles to himself.
“How was it?” Yoongi asks smugly, already knowing the answer to his question.
Jungkook beams at him. “Easier than I thought.”
“See? It’s like Psych 101.”
“Maybe I can get class credit for this then.”
“Old-Fashioned,” Jungkook says as he twists an orange peel and places it in the whiskey glass before him. A middle-aged man takes it from him, rolls up his sleeves as he takes a tentative sip. His droopy eyes sparkle in delight and he gives a nod of approval.
“No cherries. Smart boy.”
Jungkook likes him. Jungkook only gets a few interesting drinks now and then, usually from someone who knows their alcohol, judging from the way they sniff at their whiskey, ask for it neat. And then there are others, like the barely-legal guys who think drinks are made incorrectly because they "can't taste the alcohol". Beside Mr. Old-Fashioned, a guy complains, says there’s not enough vermouth in his martini.
You asked it for dry.
Jungkook grins tightly and apologizes through clenched teeth. He pours in a bit more vermouth and turns it into a wet martini. With the other hand, he makes some vodka sodas for a pair of girls that just walked through the door. He has the drinks ready before they even order.
“Getting easier?” Yoongi asks as Jungkook thumbs through his phone, waiting on the next customer.
“A little too easy,” he admits. “Kind of wish you didn’t tell me about the whole alcohol psychoanalysis thing.”
“I’m sorry for giving you the knowledge you needed to do your job better.”
“Hyung, you know what I mean. I’m just tired of making the same old drinks. Do you know how many cranberry vodkas I had to make today?”
“More than usual?”
“Like twenty three, hyung. Twenty three. I should start investing in Ocean Spray.”
“And the ones that don’t get those get vodka sodas or a Jack and Coke or something. I just want something different for once.”
“So convince them to try something else then,” he says dismissively.
“Okay, let me just tell Mr. CEO that he should have a Shirley Temple instead of his go-to Whiskey Sour. That’ll definitely get me tips,” Jungkook sneers, earning himself a smack on the back of his head.
“Don’t be stupid. You’d get him a Manhattan or a Rusty Nail at least. And Jungkook, bartenders don’t just make whatever drink people want; they introduce them to new stuff too. That’s how you get regulars,” he says with a smug grin.
Jungkook grimaces. He doesn’t care for regulars, doesn’t want to push himself to make unnecessary small talk when he doesn’t need to. They tell him their order, he makes it, they pay. Exchange over. When the bar is emptier he’ll do his best to grunt a “how are you,” but nothing above that. Conversations aren’t his strong suit.
Yoongi returns to his conversation with one of his regulars, Mr. Sidecar, from what Jungkook remembers, and a girl approaches the bar then, combing her long hair with one hand, wearing daddy’s money.
“What would you like?”
She stares past him, eyes vacantly sweeping over the liquor bottles. ”Can you just make me something yummy?” she says, eyelashes fluttering.
Jungkook nods and makes a conscious effort to keep his eyes from rolling back into his head. He hates the “something yummy”. Hates it just as much as “surprise me," which always comes when there's ten other customers waiting on him and the person's just too lazy to think of something at the top of their head. Still, Jungkook clenches his jaw and reaches for the pineapple juice, splashing in some cranberry for good measure. When Jungkook grabs at the vodka, Yoongi raises his eyebrows as if to say, “this is not what I meant when I said ‘introduce them to new stuff." He knows vodka is what Jungkook goes for when he’s being lazy. Vodka’s his easy way out. Everything mixes well with vodka.
When the girl’s out of sight and happily sipping on her drink somewhere, Yoongi turns on him with his arms crossed, completely unimpressed with Jungkook's actions.
“Jungkook,” he says with a purse of his lips.
“What? She asked for something yummy so I gave her ‘something yummy.’”
“What was that even supposed to be?”
“I don’t know. Like a fancy fruit punch with vodka.”
Jungkook doesn't look at him. He understands why Jisung refuses to be called by his name now; probably Yoongi’s doing with the way he utters “Jisung” with varying degrees of exasperation.
“Hyung, if someone can’t tell the difference between boxed wine and a 30-year aged Bordeaux, why would you buy them the more expensive bottle?”
Yoongi opens his mouth to respond but gets distracted by the front door.
“Holy shit—” Yoongi drops the cocktail shaker in his hands with a clatter and Jungkook’s head shoots up to see Yoongi racing out from behind the bar, weaving around a few patrons to greet someone at the door. The man laughs and throws his head back in delight as Yoongi hugs him, practically squeezes him to his chest. Jungkook had no clue Yoongi was even capable of more physical interaction than just a pat on the shoulder or a bro hug. He's so distracted that he doesn't even notice the customer in front of him. He just stares incredulously at the guy who manages to turn stone-cold Yoongi into a softie. The guy says something to Yoongi while hiding his cheeky grin behind a sleeve and Yoongi shoves at him teasingly, talks in that fake scolding tone that he uses to hide his affection.
Two more guys walk in then, gesturing wildly with their hands and speaking in rapidfire like they’re caught up in some disagreement, but their hands drop when they catch sight of Yoongi who pulls them in for a one-armed hug. Even Seokjin joins this faux high school reunion, rubbing his hands on the towel at his waist before he hugs them hello. Jungkook notices that he sways on his feet a little as he embraces the tallest one.
Jungkook's in the middle of making a mai tai when they walk over.
“Jungkook, these are my old coworkers,” Yoongi motions to the first two that sit down at the counter. The shorter one looks at him with interest, peering up at him behind soft, black hair. He looks young for his age, like he can't quite get rid of his baby fat—but there's something about it that's charming. Of course he'd win over Yoongi's heart.
“Jimin,” the man says with a shy smile, eyes sparkling. Jungkook swears that the man’s gaze drops slightly like he’s checking him out, glancing at Jungkook’s chest through the dip of his V-neck, and he silently thanks the universe for allowing him to find time to go to the gym even with school and a part-time job. Hoseok grins beside Jimin, having introduced himself with a slight dip of his head.
Yoongi continues and gestures to the man who stands behind them imposingly, dressed in black from head-to-toe. “And this is Namjoon,” he says. “He owns this bar and the main bar that we all worked at.”
Jungkook's mind blanks.
“Wait, what? I thought Seokjin-hyung—” he looks over to Seokjin whose cheeks are sucked in like he’s trying to hold back his laughter.
“I just take care of this branch for Namjoon,” he says, rubbing Namjoon’s shoulders fondly.
Somewhere along the way Jungkook remembers his manners and bows to show his respect, so low that his nose almost grazes the counter. Namjoon just pushes him to set him upright, complains and says he doesn’t care for formalities.
“Namjoon-hyung is fine,” he says, dimples showing.
Seokjin goes back to tend to his customers but Yoongi makes drinks for the rest of them. Namjoon gets some decade-old Japanese whiskey with a splash of water, something from the top shelf, which Jungkook could have guessed just by looking at his outfit. It’s deceptively simple, like he rolled out of bed and threw on whatever was the cleanest, but they’re all designer brands that Jungkook can’t even dream about affording. Namjoon’s shirt probably costs more than Jungkook’s entire closet combined but Jungkook can tell Namjoon doesn't spend his money carelessly. His clothes show his good taste; it says that Namjoon has an eye for business, that he's a guy who knows what he's doing. His drink shows it too, a nicely aged Yamazaki with some water in it in order to bring out the flavors that ice can’t.
Hoseok on the other hand, just gets a beer, and Jungkook probably could have guessed that too. He smiles easily, so wide that it looks painted on, and the lazy hand motions that he makes as he talks gives off an air of nonchalance.
It’s Jimin though, that gives Jungkook pause. When Yoongi asks for his order, Jimin shakes his head, jerks his hand from side-to-side to wave him off.
Jungkook can't help but to blurt, “are you driving?”
Jimin jolts in his seat then, blinking wide at Jungkook like he wasn’t sure the question was directed at him.
“No, I just…” his brows furrow. “Why do you ask?” he shoots back, that small flash of pensiveness replaced by a teasing grin. “Are you gonna make me something?”
“I- well, it depends on what you want? We have lots of stuff here.” So smooth, Jungkook. A real, modern-day lothario you are. Yoongi seems to think so too because he snorts at Jungkook’s vapid description while grabbing a bottle of beer for himself. Jimin humors him at least.
From anybody else he would have hated it, would have made his patented Fancy Fruit Punch with Vodka, but Jimin’s lips are quirked and his eyes crinkle like he knows he’s being a pain in the ass and Jungkook rises to the challenge.
Beside him, Hoseok hoots with laughter. “Don’t fall for it Jungkook,” he says between little hics. “You can’t surprise this guy. Jimin used to go around to different bars to mess with the other bartenders. He’d order the girliest drinks just to see the looks on their faces.”
“They actually taste good!” Jimin protests with a scrunch of his nose. “I mean, if they make it right."
“He ordered a red-headed slut one time and the customer next to him overheard. He nearly got slapped,” Yoongi adds on, trying to get a rise out of him.
Jimin whines cutely in response.
“Stop embarrassing me. I wasn’t trying to be crude. I just wanted to see what it tasted like.”
“Red-headed…” Jungkook doesn’t finish the name.
“Jäger, peach schnapps, and double the cranberry,” Jimin says without skipping a beat. “Hyung, why aren’t you teaching him the important stuff?”
“Jimin, no one in their right mind would order that except for you.”
“Let him order what he wants,” Namjoon jumps in, “he’s just shaking up gender norms that’s all.”
“Right, because ‘red-headed slut’ is so progressive,” Yoongi snorts with a swig of his beer.
They’re so distracted they don’t notice Jungkook moving around the bar until he’s done and places a shooter in front of Jimin, filled all the way to the top with a clear red. Everyone nearly dies of laughter.
“Jungkook, you too?” Jimin pouts, sniffing at the drink.
It gets quiet when Jimin brings the cocktail to his lips and Hoseok mumbles something that Jungkook can’t quite hear, something like “Jimin, you don’t have to—” but Jimin sends him a look that shuts him up. Everyone holds their breath as Jimin flings his head back, swallowing it down.
“Just like I remembered,” he smacks when the burn clears from his throat.
Jungkook tries not to gape at the way the cranberry juice stains Jimin’s lips and makes them look even fuller than they already are.
“As good as yours?” Namjoon asks with watchful eyes. Yoongi doesn’t stop staring at Jimin, like he’s waiting for him to throw up or break into hives or something equally bad. Instead, Jimin gives an easy laugh.
“Hyung, you know nothing beats my drinks. I even give Yoongi-hyung a run for his money sometimes.”
Yoongi snaps out of his stupor and scoffs.
“Yeah, yeah, your style’s flashy and all, but learn your whiskey and then we’ll talk.” Namjoon raises his glass in agreement and Jimin’s nose wrinkles like he sniffed his father’s high-proof scotch.
Behind the bar, Jungkook gawks at Jimin who looks more like a barista than a bartender with his feathery hair and cozy, oversized sweater. “You’re a bartender?” he chokes.
“He was my first apprentice,” Yoongi corrects him. “He was pretty good too, even if he was a little shit most of the time.”
“Aw hyung, you’re making me blush," Jimin drawls and then giggles at the end like he couldn't handle his own sarcasm.
Jimin's really something.
“Jimin was a finalist for one of KBG’s flair bartending competitions too,” Namjoon adds. “Almost makes up for all of the glasses that he broke when he worked here.”
And Jimin flushes for real this time, hiding behind his sleeved palms, ears as red as the cocktail he drank.
“You don’t work there anymore?” Jungkook asks curiously.
“Why not? It sounds like you enjoyed it.”
Yoongi and Hoseok inhale their beer, eyes meeting briefly in some silent conversation and Namjoon watches Jimin intently, swirling his half-finished drink around with one hand like he’s aerating wine. The buzzing of the chitchat around them gets louder, Jimin's wary silence becoming painfully obvious and Jungkook wishes he had never asked. The air is so tense he can choke on it.
Jimin's lower lip puffs out, swollen and red from where he gnawed on it.
“Life gets in the way,” he answers finally.
Yoongi puts his empty bottle down almost theatrically, distracts everyone by refilling their drinks (he hands Jimin a glass of water instead). The awkward conversation is readily forgotten because Yoongi too eagerly throws Jungkook under the bus, recounting the time when Jungkook made one of Yoongi’s regulars a Dark n’ Stormy when his preferred drink was actually a Fuzzy Navel.
“He said to surprise him and I did,” Jungkook sulks as everyone laughs at his expense.
“Are you still doing that stupid alcohol personality test?” Hoseok hiccups as he swallows down his second beer. His nose wrinkles in disgust.
“Don’t fix what ain’t broke.”
“I thought I broke it a long time ago with all the girly drinks I ordered,” Jimin quips.
“The laws of the universe never really apply to you, Park Jimin,” Hoseok responds fondly, pinching his cheeks for good measure. Jimin beams and laughs shyly, face dusted pink from the shooter. Jungkook can’t seem to tear his eyes away until Yoongi nudges at him, smirking when Jungkook refocuses his attention to the invisible stain on the counter.
“Jimin, what do you think Jungkook would order at a bar? I never really figured it out,” Yoongi asks tauntingly.
Jimin drinks him in, soaking him up from head-to-toe and Jungkook’s neck burns under Jimin’s studying gaze, so much that he has to turn away, rubbing the same spot over and over with his bar towel. In the corner of his eye he sees Yoongi’s white knuckles clenched around the beer bottle and Jungkook knows he’s trying to hold back his laughter. Jungkook makes a mental note to water down the bourbon that Yoongi hides in the back of the cupboard, away from Jisung’s curious hands.
“I think he’d get a box of apple juice,” Jimin grins playfully. “With a little straw and everything.”
Yoongi barks with laughter.
Jungkook hopes Jisung will like his new bottle of whiskey.