TikiTender Returns To The Golden Lion

TikiTender will be returning to his roots this weekend as a guest bartender at Golden Lion Cafe!  

Mark will be behind the Golden Lion Tiki Bar during during the Best Beach Bar Award Party  presented by Florida Beach Bar then again on Sunday during their Father’s Day BBQ.

This will be a return to home for TikiTender, who was behind the bar nearly a decade ago when the beach side restaurant received their first Best Beach Bar award.    Mark spent nine years behind the wood at the Golden Lion, before leaving to launch an event bartending company, Fun Coast Bartending.

Come say hello to an old favorite on Saturday night!

For more information and an appearance calendar, visit






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14 Vodka Drinks So Easy A Baby Can Make Them

14 Vodka Drinks So Easy A Baby Can Make Them.  dU4ljdb

Here you go, a dozen plus drinks that you can mostly make with a bottle of vodka and three juices.    You will need vodka, peach schnapps, orange juice, cranberry juice, grapefruit juice, kosher salt, club soda, and a lime.

I will start with a basic, the Screwdriver (or as I call it, the easiest cocktail in the world).

1 1/2 oz vodka
orange juice
Combine ingredients over ice in a highball glass. Stir and serve.

Hairy Navel
1 1/2 oz vodka
1/2 oz peach schnapps
orange juice
Combine over ice. Stir and serve.

1 1/2 oz vodka
orange juice
cranberry juice
Combine ingredients over ice in a highball glass. Stir and serve.

Sex On The Beach
1 1/2 oz vodka
1/2 oz peach schnapps
1 oz cranberry juice
orange juice
In a large glass, combine all ingredients over ice. Balance with orange juice. Shake and serve.

Quickie On The Beach
1 1/2 oz vodka
1 oz peach schnapps
Pour into a shaker with ice. Shake & strain into a shot glass.

Cape Codder
1 1/2 oz vodka
cranberry juice
Combine over ice. Stir and serve. Garnish with a lime if desired.

Bad Habit
1 1/2 oz vodka
1/2 oz peach schnapps
cranberry juice
Combine over ice. Stir and serve.

1 1/2 oz vodka
cranberry juice
pineapple juice
Combine over ice. Stir and serve.

Cool Breeze
1 1/2 oz vodka
cranberry juice
pineapple juice
Combine over ice. Top with a splash of club soda.

1 1/2 oz vodka
1/2 ounce peach schnapps
club soda
Combine over ice. Top with a splash of club soda.

1 1/2 oz vodka
grapefruit juice
Combine over ice. Stir and serve.

Salty Dog
1 1/2 oz vodka
grapfruit juice
Combine in a shaker with ice. Give it a quick toss and serve in a salted glass.

1 1/2 oz vodka
cranberry juice
grapefruit juice
Combine over ice. Stir and serve.

Grapefruit Fizz
1 1/2 oz vodka
Splash of grapefruit
Club soda
Combine over ice.

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Island Time Radio 5/1/17

Fresh back from my trip to Austin, TX and just before Cinco de Mayo means it’s time for some margarita recipes!!!!


Electric Margarita
1 1/4 oz tequila
1 oz blue curacao
4 oz sour mix

Pre-chill an unsalted margarita glass with ice. Pour all ingredients into an ice-filled shaker. Shake shake shake! Pour into the prepared glass. 

Catalina Margarita
1 1/4 oz tequila
1 oz peach schnapps
1 oz blue curacao
4 oz sour mix

Pre-chill an unsalted margarita glass with ice. Pour all ingredients into an ice-filled shaker. Shake shake shake! Pour into the prepared glass. Anytime I use blue curacao, I like to garnish with an orange wedge.


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Promote Your Bar & Restaurant via Facebook

Facebook For Restaurants.  Are you doing it wrong?813b24e0-f0d5-4924-b726-2743321fd33f

Leap year has given us an extra Monday morning in February! I strongly urge you to use this extra day to learn more about Facebook for Restaurants. Fantastic mustaches recommended but not mandatory. PS Even though this class is directed toward restaurants & bars, any business owner can benefit. Click below to RSVP.

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Learning Opportunity in Palm Coast: Facebook For Restaurants

Flagler County Area restaurant, cafe, bar owners or managers who want to move the needle in 2016 with their social media communities should attend this workshop.

In this one-hour workshop, you will learn:

  • Practical ways to keep your content fresh
  • Concepts and tools for problem solving low-traffic nights
  • A 2-minute thing you can do for your facebook page that’ll set your business apart
  • Making your specials seen outside of your network
  • Amplifying post and page-reach using your inner circle
  • Measurement (Metrics/Analytics unpacked) so you can track
  • Email addresses collected on facebook with a purpose
  • Making sure page info is correct including your operating hours
  • Picture-taking that elevates your brand and your team

When: Monday, February 8th, 2016
Time: 3:00PM-4:15PM
Location: 20 Airport Rd, Suite B
Price: $79.00*


Your instructors, Mark Woods & Ky Ekinci,  have combined 40 years experience in restaurants & hospitality.  


Click for more information and to reserve your seat.   

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Holiday Drinks for Island Time Radio

christmas tiki

Tiki Says:  Don’t lose your head during the holidays.  Designate a driver before the celebration starts.

A trio of year end cocktails, as featured on tonight’s Island Time Radio Show.

Hot Buttered Mocha
1 1/2 oz butterscotch schnapps
1 pkg instant hot cocoa
hot coffee
Combine all ingredients in a coffee mug. Top with whipped cream, if desired.

Mele Kalikimaka
2 oz gin
1/2 oz triple sec
1/2 oz pineapple juice
Stir with cracked ice ans strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a pineapple chunk, a little paper parasol, and ride the trade winds to happy hula-days!!

Happy Ending
1 1/2 oz Absolut® Mandrin
1 oz cranberry Juice
club soda to balance
Combine over ice, using equal parts juice and soda.









Categories: Appearances, Bartending, Drinking, Drinks, Recipes, Uncategorized | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Training Spotlight: Verifying Identification By Asking Questions

As part of the TIPS program, I teach my students to FEAR fake IDs.

  • Feel the ID for cracks, tears, and other damage.
  • Examine the ID.  Check the birth date and expiration dates.   Compare the photo to the person presenting the ID.
  • Ask questions to verify that the ID belongs to the guest.
  • Return the ID to the guest.

This simple memory tool can help prevent underage drinking (and more important, keep YOU out of trouble).

Since I am a certified TIPS trainer it is only natural that the employees of my cigar bar are trained as responsible vendors.   On Saturday night, the training proved its worth.

A guest entered the lounge and picked out a cigar and approached the register to pay.  The employee on duty asked for ID.   The guest handed her an ID stating a 1991 birth date.   Because the guest had a different hairstyle than the ID photo she asked him what his birthday was.   He gave the month and day, but when asked for the year he replied “1992.”  She then said “Are you sure?  Because the ID says something different.”   She handed him back his ID and he tried a different ID that had a 1994 birthday.    She obviously didn’t make the sale and he skulked out of the shop.   She then called the two other bars nearby and warned them about a guy with bogus IDs.

Maybe the guest was 18.  Maybe he wasn’t.  As a responsible vendor, we owe it to the community to do everything we can to prevent underage consumption of tobacco and alcohol.   The important lesson is that the employee asked questions to verify the ID belonged to the person presenting it.   Kudos!

When In Doubt, Don’t Serve!

What would your employees do?   When you hire someone to serve alcohol (or in this case tobacco) at your establishment, you effectively give them your checkbook and the keys to the building.   If you do not have a responsible vendor training program in place, please contact  me so we can work together to limit your liability, provide better customer service, and increase your bottom line.

TIPS® (Training for Intervention ProcedureS) is a dynamic, skills-based training program designed to prevent intoxication, drunk driving and underage drinking by enhancing the fundamental “people skills” of servers, sellers and consumers of alcohol. TIPS gives individuals the knowledge and confidence they need to recognize potential alcohol-related problems and intervene to prevent alcohol-related tragedies.

Mark Woods aka TikiTender spent 9 years anchoring the bar staff at The Golden Lion in Flagler Beach, FLA.    He is currently managing partner of Flagler Cigar Company (featuring fine wines, craft beers, and premium cigars at The Humidor Cigar Bar & Lounge) and owner of Fun Coast Bartending (providing training & event based bartending services).  Visit to find out more about him.  

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An Open Letter To Hungry Howie’s In Palm Coast

I have sat on this for a few days, but the time has come to share this experience.   For the record, I have been providing customer service in Flagler County for nearly 20 years now.    At the old Harborside Inn in Palm Coast (1996 – 2001) I worked as a bellman, front desk clerk, and night auditor before becoming Front Office Manager for the last two years I was there.  I then spent a year working as Operations Manager at Sheraton World Golf Village before coming back to Flagler County where I worked for Tee Times USA (2002-2004) as a golf vacation specialist.   In 2004 I went back to my roots at the Harborside Inn and started my first ever bartending job.  This is also where I received my nickname TikiTender.   The hotel closed in 2005 and I began a 9 year run (2005 – 2014) at the Golden Lion in Flagler Beach.  During my time there I was a bartender and front of house manager.   In 2012 I launched my event bartending company, Fun Coast Bartending.   In summer of 2013, I became managing partner for Flagler Cigar Company, running The Humidor Cigar Lounge in European Village.  Along the way, when I needed some extra cash (especially in the late 90s and early 2Ks) I worked, ironically, as a pizza delivery driver and shift manager at Pizza Hut.   This intro is just my way of saying I have some experience interacting with customers.   

So, to the incident on August 2nd.  I was out running errands and called my significant other to discuss lunch.  She suggested Hungry Howie’s Sticky Fingers pizza, which I was very excited about.   I asked her if she could make the order, since I was driving around.    She placed the carryout order using your online ordering system at 1:12 pm with a 20 minute estimated pick-up time.   According to the the ticket on the box I later received, the order printed in your store at 1:13 pm.   I arrived at your store and checked in on Foursquare at 1:29 pm.  Not really expecting the order to be ready at this point I dilly dallied about the store, let a couple other customers go to the counter, went to the bathroom, etc.   

When I approached the counter a few minutes later, the girl working the counter was confused by the order.  She didn’t see it in the system, etc.  I was a little rankled but figured these things happen. I called my other half to ask if she had a confirmation email from the order.  She forwarded it to me 1:36 pm (23 minutes after the order was received in your store).   Your employee finally located the order and found the ticket hanging.  She said “Here it is!  It is in the oven. Should be out in 2 or 3 minutes”.  She was very pleasant and at this point all was well.  I know sometimes orders take a little longer.   I worked at a different pizza chain for many years.  

So I sat down.  I scrolled through facebook.  Posted a photo of one of the store signs to Instagram at 1:40 and watched as others came and went.  After what was more than 2 or 3 minutes, I stood up and approached the counter again.   I politely asked “What’s happening with that pizza?”  The employee appeared surprised that I was still there and took several laps around the kitchen, looking around.  Meanwhile I could an order ready to pick up (boxes with a ticket attached) on top of the pizza oven.  I assumed it was mine.   She finally saw the same box and handed it to me. 

I’m a polite guy and fully understand the ebbs and flows of customer service, but I had to make a statement about this wait time.   I said (in admittedly exasperated tone) “Come on guys, I’ve been standing here for 25 minutes and my oven was on the oven the whole time.”  This was your chance to win me back.  Instead, I got a sassy “No, you really haven’t [been waiting that long]” from the employee as I turned to leave.  “Yes I really have”, I said as I pushed the door open to leave for what will probably be the last time.  “Congratulations…” I heard as the door closed.  I can’t say what she said, but can speculate it was something like “Congratulations for being a jerk”.     It was 1:52 (39 minutes after the order was placed and 16 minutes after I was told my order was “in the oven”).  It wasn’t the time the order took.  It was the “It’s in the oven and should be ready in two or three minutes” statement. 

I was ready to be wooed.   I sat there patiently.   I could see the general manager / owner in the kitchen.   The opportunity was so close. The chance to shine was right there in front of you.   Right there in front of you was the opportunity to say a simple phrase.  “Sorry about the wait.”    I’m no expert on delivering an outstanding customer service experience.   Actually, scratch that, I AM an expert on delivering an outstanding customer experience.   I know customers aren’t always right.  I know they can be pains in the ass.  I know they can be egocentric.   I also know they like to feel important.  They want to be recognized.  They don’t want to be ignored and made to feel as if they are being done a favor by receiving something they have paid for.  By the way, your employee was right about one thing.  I hadn’t been waiting 25 minutes as I stated.  I was only there for 23 minutes. 

It was right there.   Your chance to go from passive to proactive.  Your chance to say “Sorry about that.  Hope to see you again and we will do a better job.”  But instead, a smartass comment from your employee ruined it and chased away what was, up to that point, a frequent customer who is also a chronic oversharer whose check-ins, instagrams, and status updates are seen by thousands of potential customers in the area.   

In customer service 101, it is taught that you should ask customers about their experience and correct it on the spot.  Why?  Because not only do dissatisfied customers sometimes not come back, they also tell all their friends about their bad experience.  I’m mad at you, Hungry Howie’s.  Mad and disappointed.   I will miss the Sticky Fingers pizza.   

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Beer Glasses: To Chill Or Not To Chill

Many cicerones insist you shouldn’t chill beer glasses.  Their reasoning? The ice crystals inside the glass melt when you pour the beer, diluting your brew.  

What is your opinion? Chilled or not chilled?


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Bartending Service Steps

Not too long ago, I was asked to help write an employee handbook for a local restaurant. Here’s the portion for service behind the bar.  How does this translate to your job?

Steps of Service Behind The Bar

A bar can go from a sleepy slow to a bustling, jam-packed, out-of-control place in only the blink of an eye. One way of reducing this potentially frustrating situation is to have a set of service steps you follow with each customer.


  1. Greet your guest(s)
  2. Offer service
  3. Prepare order(s)
  4. Complete transaction
  5. Check back on guest(s)
  6. Say goodbye to guest(s).


Following these steps while behind the bar can make your workload becomes more manageable, and your work shifts can be a much more productive time.  I.E. You will be able to handle more guests which, in most cases, translates to more money in your pocket.

Greet Your Guests and Make Them Feel At Home.
Make your guests feel welcome in the same way you would make an old friend feel welcome at home. Smile when they arrive and make sure they know you have recognized their presence.  If you aren’t able to offer service immediately, let them know you will be with them as soon as possible.

Offer Service.
Once the guest is obviously ready to order (and you are prepared to offer service), smile and ask what he, she, or the group, would like to drink.  Be prepared to make suggestions. If anyone in the party appears to be under 30 years of age, politely ask for identification before preparing the order.  Place coasters or beverage napkins in front of guests before you prepare their order.  Besides keeping your bar surface cleaner, this also acts as an indicator to your co-workers that the guests have placed an order.

Prepare Order(s).
All beverages should be prepared as quickly as possible while focusing on cleanliness, precision, and presentation. If the customer is unhappy with the result, the bartender should smilingly offer to remake the cocktail to the patron’s specifications free of charge, given the ingredients are not exceptional in cost or rarity.  When presenting the drink be sure to “pose for the camera”.  Pause for a moment and smile at the customer as if they are taking your photograph.

Complete Transaction.
To ensure all drinks are accounted for, it is best to immediately tally them using the point of sale system.  Take payment for the drinks or start the guest a tab by holding a credit card.

Check Back On Guest(s)
Checking on the customer is a key of service success. Ask these questions:  “Are the drinks satisfactory?”  “Is there anything else I can get for you?” “Do you care for another round?”  Smile and let them know you are there to serve them.

Say Goodbye To Guests(s)

The farewell is one of the most important tools of bartending. Just as every patron should be acknowledged on arrival, they should be acknowledged upon departure. Last impressions last.  Give your guests a sincere “thank you” and make them feel welcome to come back again.  




Mark Woods aka TikiTender spent 9 years anchoring the bar staff at The Golden Lion in Flagler Beach, FLA.    He is currently managing partner of Flagler Cigar Company (featuring fine wines, craft beers, and premium cigars at The Humidor Cigar Bar & Lounge) and owner of Fun Coast Bartending (providing training & event based bartending services).  Visit to find out more about him.  

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