Very Good Rice Takes Time, Will

To help pay the bills, the informant recently started working towards a bartending certification again. It was a relaxed, informal environment— people were waiting for a meeting to start— and they were sharing this exact piece of folklore with a friend


When you start to learn how to bartend, what do they tell you to help remember the mixes in the well?


“Um, so when you’re bartending, um… When you’re at the bar, there’s a well which is like the common liquors that you use in; it’s- to remember the kind of order and which liquors they are when you’re first learning you can learn the phrase “very good rice takes time, Paul- Will,” sorry. Some, some wells have different liquors but in California, it’s whiskey.


So “very” is vodka, “good” is gin, “rice” is rum, t or ta- “takes” is tequila, “time” is triple sec, and “Will” is whiskey. And so it’s just like an easy way to start getting used to using the well, um in a like timely… manner.”


Since mnemonics are there to fill a specific purpose and recall a specific set of information, I had not realized that they could also have multiplicity and variation. It seems that variations would be in response to a change in environment, as in this case, or a change in both time and landscapes, such as how the mnemonic to remember the planets of the solar system changed to reflect Pluto’s reclassification.


Also, it is possible that those who use mnemonics are largely beginners of the related topic. Using this mnemonic as an example, one might assume that its use might fall with a bartender as they become familiar with the well through greater bartending experience. Alternatively, the mnemonic could simply speed up a bartender’s familiarity with the well, with the bartender continually referring back to it.

Being a mnemonic unique to bartending, this is also a fun example of occupational folklore.