Ready, set, order!

In no way to try and sound grumpy, dear reader (for I am your friendly bartender), I have to let off some steam on this grey wintry morning. Now it won’t be a major exhale of same so I dare say you needn’t worry…  it won’t be some screed from hell to sour your tea… just a minor release to keep that teapot from hissing.

Here goes…

When you walk for the first time into a bar (to wit: my bar) and can see that the place is busy as hell and note that the bartender’s toying with the modern land speed record, try and have an idea of what you want to order. But more important (and the point of this post which caused him to sit down and write it), don’t ask your friendly bartender, “What do you recommend?” It makes him crazy.

But before you accuse yours truly most wrongly of not having Job as a role model, let me explain the circumstance about which I speak. See, it’s one thing to come in after dinner and say, “I just had a nice meal and I’d like something sweet… what do you recommend?” We can solve that. Or, “I’ve been drinking (such-and-such) all night long and now I want to switch… what can you recommend that won’t make me sick?” Well, aside from a Twelve Step program perhaps there’s an answer. But to simply walk in without any context and ask your friendly bartender, “What do you recommend?”, without him knowing a thing about you or your evening, is just not a cocktail quest upon which he can embark. Nor has he the time!

Cases in point…

Here’s a conversation I had last night (while solidly two-deep at the bar), on three different occasions just moments apart. Each exchange was almost identical… typical whenever this occurs… almost as if we were reading from a common script. Two were with women and one was a guy and here’s how they all went down much to my chagrin…

Me: Hi, there, what can I get you? (And you thought I wasn’t glib!)

Clueless: (after a long pause) Ahhhh… geez… hmmmmm… what do you recommend?

Me: Well, that’s kinda’ hard for me to answer, really, I don’t know what you like to drink.

Clueless: (giggle) I know that but, you know, what I’m saying is… what would you order if you were me?

Me: I’d order a Jack on the rocks but I doubt that’ll help you.

Clueless: Oh, God no, that’s no help at all… I’m not a bourbon drinker.

Me: See my point?

Clueless: Yeah… hmmm… let me see here… oh, wait a minute…how about a drink menu? Do you have one of those?

Me: (The waiter is calling my name at this point to make some drinks for the tables, while I’m impatiently shifting my weight appearing to the untrained eye like I have to pee!) Sorry, no drink menu, we’re not what you’d call a fancy-schmancy place here… we’re just a bar.

Clueless: (looking around admiringly) Yeah, I can see that, but I really like it though. (Or some same version of a commentary.) This place is really cozy… how long has it been here?”

Me: (with a smile, of course) About as long as it’s taking you to order. (And then, seeing out of the corner of my eye at least six or seven people with a raised arm… either wanting another drink or, in keeping with tomorrow’s Super Bowl, signaling for a fair catch… I politely suspend this walk through time and excuse myself.) Listen, I’ll let you kick it around, okay? Let me go make some drinks and I’ll be back.

Well, after attending swiftly to what I had to attend… six raised arms and a waiter who looked like he had to pee… I managed to solve at least two of those three Bar-land mysteries. To the one gal I said, “What do you normally drink, miss?” And when she giddily said, “I love gin!” I put her in a Tom Collins and she was delighted.

And when I said to the  guy who was still on the fence, “Hey, man, it’s Friday night… how ’bout a stiff margarita but the way I make ’em?” another home run was struck by your friendly bartender. Perhaps it was simply the “Friday night” part but I suspect it was more when I said, “the way I make ’em”, but in either case this guy took the bait and partied. And he loved his “Rita”.

But sadly when I got to the third of the three, this gal not rightly a Job fan… this gal who along with her girlfriend would’ve really prettied up the place… all that was there to greet me were two empty spaces. And the cold air of impatience.  Which I guess is just as well, come to think of it, given how busy I was… though I could’ve come up with something had only they waited.  But so it goes in Bar-land, alas, and so it goes when moments are not meant to be. (Sigh!)

And so it goes when people can’t make up their minds, dammit!!!

Geez, I feel better now… I’ve been waiting to get that out since 0ne this morning. And again, like I said at the very outset, it wasn’t my intention to sour your tea or to pour some acrid tomato juice into your Bloody, I just wanted to blow off that minor steam from the pot. N’est-ce pas? For as I also stated at the outset, above all things I am your friendly bartender!

See ya’ again next week-end, gang, and please know what you want when you walk in the door. 🙂

35 Responses to “Ready, set, order!”


  1. 1 Comrade PhysioProf February 6, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    I hear ya, holmes. Maybe because of the genuine old-time atmosphere of your bar, these rubes think it’s like some kind of Disney shit, and they’re gonna get the Magic Kingdom fake familiarity ass-kissing treatment: “Well, hey there, kids!! Oh, wow, we sure have got drinks for you!!!! Would you prefer the Pink Smiley Frozen Douchebag, or the Purple People Anal Wart Eater? They’re both FANFUCKINGTASTIC!!!!”

  2. 2 scribbler50 February 6, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    Comrade: Though you’re selection of drinks makes me run for the hills you’re perception is dead on the money… they do kind of act like they’re in some kind of amusement park. Or museum. “Hmmm, isn’t this place great? What can we order that’s different and fits the surroundings?”

    In fact just last week I had a group that made no bones about why they were there. They were ten strong and said in essence, “Hey, man, we’re here for some old time drinks… whaddaya’ got?” And they were great. They all worked at a nearby law firm, we’re all in their mid-twenties, and all were very well behaved as they sampled the past. Then three hours later after lots of laughs and a four hundred dollar bar tab, they tipped me a hundred bucks and promised to return. Worth the journey.

    Hey, thanks for the comment, Pink Smiley, (er, excuse me) Comrade Pinko.

  3. 3 physiobabe February 7, 2010 at 6:46 am

    I’ve always wanted to be a bartender, but after that story, hmmm, not so much. Patience is not one of my virtues.

    GO, SAINTS!!!!!!!!

  4. 4 scribbler50 February 7, 2010 at 8:42 am

    physiobabe: What? Are you saying you’re not in possession of every virtue? I’m shocked!!! 🙂

    PS: I’m with ya’ on the Saints, my friend… the Colts have already won it and New Orleans could use what a victory would bring.

  5. 5 physiobabe February 7, 2010 at 9:07 am

    Or, as Tebow (that asshole) would say, “From your lips to God’s ears!)

  6. 6 Ken February 7, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    I promise Scrib, if I’m ever at your bar, it’s a Jack on the rocks. No hesitation at all.

  7. 7 Comrade PhysioProf February 7, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    They were ten strong and said in essence, “Hey, man, we’re here for some old time drinks… whaddaya’ got?”

    Don’t leave us in the fucking dark! What’d you make?

  8. 8 Jennifer February 7, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    Hmmm, I want to leave a comment, but don’t know what to say. What would you recommend?

  9. 9 scribbler50 February 7, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    Ken: That’s the ticket… short, sweet and to the point!

    Physioprof: To bring one so bright as you out of the darkness and into the light… I made a ton of (aptly named) Old Fashioned’s, some Rob Roy’s, the aforementioned Tom Collins (one girl I swear got hooked on them), a gang of Manhattan’s, a Rusty Nail or two, and of course some “real” Martini’s to name just a few. Oh, and a bunch of Whiskey Sours’ made the cut.

    Jennifer: I think this is the first time in my life I’m using the computer-ese anagram “LOL”, but your comment demands it. You’ve done it again, my friend, very funny!

  10. 10 jc February 7, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    I’ll have what’s cheap. Is anything on sale? oh, and a water on the side.

  11. 11 Comrade PhysioProf February 7, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    What do you consider a “real Martini”?

  12. 12 scribbler50 February 7, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    jc: Nothing is cheap (at least in NYC), nothing is on sale but I can give you a (Grrr!) water on the side.
    PS: Was that “water on the side” a reference to my rant on May 16th titled “Water, Water everywhere1”? If so, you have one hell of a memory there, my friend.
    Cheers!

    Physioprof: A “real martini” is one made with vermouth (a seemingly rare item these days) and not made with apples, oranges or bananas. You dig, dog?

  13. 13 jc February 7, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    I learned not to ask for water from a bartender in that post!

  14. 14 scribbler50 February 7, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    jc: It’s okay to ask but as I said, make sure you drink it. (And you do have a hell of a memory!)

  15. 15 Comrade PhysioProf February 7, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    Got it! If you want to sound cool, instead of asking for “water on the side”, you ask for “water back”. AMIRITE?

  16. 16 scribbler50 February 7, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    Physioprof: UR Rite, if you happen to think that’s cooler. I prefer hearing NO water… on the side, back or in fucking front! 🙂

  17. 17 jc February 7, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    and NO water when the bar is deep!

  18. 18 Comrade PhysioProf February 7, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    UR Rite

    Dude, u r totes 1337!

  19. 19 Anonymoustache February 8, 2010 at 7:06 am

    Dude,
    I think you need to make a stock drink, all frilly and shit with umbrellas or raincoats or galoshes or whatever, and keep that handy for whomever may ask “What do you recommend”. I don’t think it’ll matter what’s in the drink, do you? Heck, just name the damn drink “The Recommendation”

  20. 20 Anonymoustache February 8, 2010 at 7:10 am

    Also, I’ll be back within the friendly confines of the States by Wednesday so we need to catch up on some freaking football. I missed the conf champs and the SuperBowl but just saw that the Saints won. Good for them and for Brees, Payton etc. Nothing against Indy, but I’m kinda glad the Saints won cos it should put the “Manning is THE GREATEST EVER” crap talk on ice for a bit, no? The guy has more playoff failures than Liz Taylor had marriages…..but all that for another time….

  21. 21 scribbler50 February 8, 2010 at 9:41 am

    Anonymoustache:

    “… all frilly and shit with umbrellas or raincoats or galoshes or whatever”

    Love that description, Bro, especially the “galoshes” part. HOWEVER… joking though you are that is a good suggestion. Seriously. Because I do get, along with “what do you recommend?” a whole bunch of “What’s the house specialty?” type questions. I could invent some witch’s brew and give it a freaking name and that would be it! I won’t, of course (hate the drinks that are concoctions), but a bartender with imagination and zeal would do well to follow that advice. It’s a good idea.

    Also, look forward to talkin’ football as well and I share your feelings on the outcome. Safe trip home, my friend.

  22. 22 Comrade PhysioProf February 8, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Call it the Pink Smiley Frozen Douchebag.

  23. 23 scribbler50 February 8, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    All right, Prof, it’s time to take your meds and go to sleep now. You’ve had a long journey and I think you’re a little tired. In fact a lot tired!

  24. 24 Don February 8, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Speaking of old-fashioneds, what is your preferred recipe? I’ve heard two schools of thought: you’ve got the one with just the mulled orange peel (the Old-Old Fashioned?) and the other with a cherry and an additional orange on top. What’s your take?

  25. 25 scribbler50 February 8, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    Don: I use both and neither as a garnish on top.

    In the bottom of the glass I muddle the cherry and the orange (some fruit still on the rind) into a few drops of Angostura bitters and a half packet of sugar. When finished muddling I add a dash of club soda, then ice, then the whiskey. Don’t know if that’s the classic way but that’s my way and people seem to like it. A lot. (By the way, I charge two bucks for the drink and six for labor!)

  26. 26 d-a-p February 8, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    “makers mark” on the rocks…period….
    but what’s really cool in barland is when you go into your favorite watering hole and the bartender greets you with a big hello…and proceeds to make the drink he knows you want without a word being spoken..to me that’s a very high form of flattery…of course you have to be a regular… but it still seems like a great part of the ritual..one which i really appreciate..
    d-a-p

  27. 27 scribbler50 February 8, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    d-a-p: It’s a sign of respect indeed because it means you’re welcome back, and that all went well on your previous visit. Believe me, if a bartender’s not glad to see you, whether you’re the asshole or he’s the asshole, he won’t be anticipating your order by pre-mixing it.

    Nice observation.

  28. 28 Toaster February 9, 2010 at 2:28 am

    In theory I should like a whiskey sour due to its ingredients, but in practice I have yet to find one that I wouldn’t’ve rather had the components of separate instead. I have faith you’d be a generous cut above every other bars’ offerings thus far. A Manhattan second, and if it is the weekend, then a draft Guinness to finish off the night (especially if it contained 2 shots of Jameson, 1 scoop of ice cream, and some cinnamon/nutmeg on top*).

    *Toaster’s sweet tooth acts up after whiskey.

  29. 29 Donna B. February 9, 2010 at 4:58 am

    If you do invent a house special, call it The Scribbler. Autograph the bev nap, illegibly.

  30. 30 scribbler50 February 9, 2010 at 9:49 am

    Toaster: That’s a respectable line-up and I’m sure we could accommodate (especially on the whiskey sour front), but I might have to direct you to a malt shop for that last concoction. As certain maids don’t do windows, your friendly bartender doesn’t do ice cream!

    Donna B: Another good suggestion, especially the autograph part, but (alas) I won’t be inventing a new drink.
    PS: And if I may get personal…I’m glad that recent health issue you wrote about turned out not to be an “issue”, good news for us all, my friend.

  31. 31 Chris February 10, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Scrib, Just wondering what ever happened with your vision problems, if you posted an update I must have missed it. I hope all is well, I don’t post much but I read your blog every week and I hope you keep them coming!

  32. 32 scribbler50 February 10, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    Chris: No, you didn’t miss anything, I never mentioned it again. That’s because since I want this blog to be a virtual “happy hour” why bring up a subject that isn’t a happy one… the sight in my right eye never came back. Such is life!

    But hey, thanks for your concern and keep coming back.

  33. 33 Katherine February 10, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    I had a friend who we once bought an appletini for (and then had to talk him into DRINKING the damned thing), as his then-favourite TV character drank them, and now that’s all he drinks in bars other than beer.

    I never ask anyone for a recommendation as I am really fussy. Though when I get free drinks I will usually drink anything 😀 So uh basically these people are not fussy enough to realise their fussiness. Or something.

  34. 34 scribbler50 February 11, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    Katherine: Now you’re what I call (given the theme of this blog) a good “fussy”… we like people who know what they like.
    Meanwhile, I’m curious… who is the TV character who likes appletini’s?


  1. 1 Complaint Department « Behind The Stick Trackback on October 10, 2010 at 2:45 pm

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