“Pucker Up!”

This encounter took place the other night between a woman who hailed from the south and your friendly bartender, after which he noticed a touch of gray in his hair.

“Make me an apple martini, bartender, but I just want a slight pucker if you know what I mean?”  Then she winked to let me know she knew how the drink went. She was referring of course to Pucker’s Apple Schnapps, the chief ingredient in the drink other than vodka. In fact the only other ingredient unless you add sours mix. Which I don’t.

“So you know how the drink is made,” I said, submerging her glass into ice before I started mixing.

“Yes I do,” she sang, “so don’t turn me into Little Miss Pucker, okay?”

“I’ll try not to.”

The man who was sitting next to her, whom I assumed to be not her husband based on my bar antennae, just beamed with obvious pride as the woman went through this. It was a look that said (forgive me) “How ’bout them apples?” They were both in their early fifties and he was drinking Heineken.

So I made the drink to specification (meaning very little apple schnapps), placed it on the bev nap in front of her, and walked to the other end so the two could be alone. The woman had come in later than him (a full two Heinekens later) and I got the feeling they wanted to do some catching up. But a few seconds later that notion was shattered when this woman let go of the loudest throat clearing ever.

“A-hem!!!” she croaked for the bar and the world to hear. Then, “Oh, bar-ten-der!” again in that sing-song voice.

“Yes, miss,” I replied, coming to the rescue. I could tell the drink was too strong by the cough she was suppressing.

“Ummm, I know I said not too much pucker but this is too little pucker, there’s too much vodka in it! My word, I don’t want to be out of it before I’m into it.”

Nice turn of a phrase , I thought, but it stands to reason less Pucker means much more vodka, lady. “So you want more Pucker’s is what you’re saying… the stuff you said you didn’t want too much of, right?”

“Yes, I know, silly right? I’m sorry. Something somewhere in the middle if you don’t mind.”

And believe it or not I didn’t mind because she was kind of sweet when she said this, and obviously not trying to be some pain in the ass. It’s these faux-martinis that are the pains in the ass which belong on the menus of soda jerks not bartenders. A real martini is gin or vodka dashed with vermouth (wet or dry), and the rest is nothing but nonsense (shaken not stirred). They’re enough to make the Drones Club take up pitch forks. And while I’m on the subject… I refuse to learn how to make all these drinks ’cause they’re here today, gone tomorrow, and won’t leave one single dent when it’s all said and drunk.

“Here, try this,” I said, after puckering up her cocktail, “is that in the middle?”

She took a sip. “Ahh, almost, just a little bit more please if you would?” So I threw the concoction back in the shaker, added more Pucker’s and shook it, then poured the third freaking version out for more taste test.

“How’s that?” I asked, still holding my cool.

“That’s perfect,” she said. “Thank you so very much, bartender… really!”

“You’re welcome,” I replied. Then once again I left these two to catch up. Ahh, but hold onto your hat, dear reader (if you don chapeau while reading me), for once again I was called to the scene of the crime. Just simply amazing!

“What is it now, miss,” I asked in my best fake nice.

“Listen,” she said, leaning in and whispering conspiratorially, “I know this is probably a sacrelige here but would you mind dropping an ice cube into this drink? I need it colder.”

I had to say it. “Lady, you think that that’s the sacrilege… an ice cube in your drink like you’re defiling the sacred martini? You’ve already got one foot in purgatory for asking me to put apple juice in the thing. That’s the sin here, that’s the sacrilege!” But I said it in a tone of mock admonishment while smiling to ensure that intent, a smile which she returned with blushing laughter. And it worked. No one had gotten the slightest bit miffed and I got my point across with flying colors. And the fact that she tried to respect some code of not diluting a “neat” drink with an ice cube, I found to be downright cute for its sheer naivete… the naivete of respecting a glass of mashed granny apples.

“I know, I know,” she said, “shame on me, right?”

“Nah, no shame, no blame, your heart was in the right place. Now I think we’ve finally got this thing figured out. Enjoy!”

Heineken, in the meantime, hadn’t said one single word through all this but just sat there holding an expression that was now turning sour. He wanted to get on to “business”, this guy, if his lady could ever solve her god damn cocktail. In fact, come to think of it, looking back on those first few minutes I’d had more conversation with her than he had. Enough, already! you could see him thinking, but no such luck as his date continued our chat.

“Hey,” she went on, “an apple martini is a heady drink where I come from. It’s a real cocktail! Because where I come from it’s blackberry sours, apricot-ritas and stuff like that that people I know like to drink.” I was about to ask her where she was from… the natural progression in this journey… but knowing it’d kick the door wide open to what she drank at her prom and maybe a weather report, I instead took pity on her date and let it go. Then I politely excused myself.

But not for long. She called me back and asked me for a glass of ice water. And I poured it. And then I promptly injected some humor in the thing before I blew my stack over all this attention. I said, “If there won’t be anything else, madam, I thought I’d retire for the evening if that’s okay. Good night, now!” Then I walked away to a tinkle of laughter for the very last time it appeared, for short of her calling me back to perhaps sew on a fucking button, there was nothing this woman could think of to demand my presence. Which other customers sought. Yes, the marathon was finally over, dear reader, and much to Heineken’s delight, for he’d booked a table for dinner later on and it was clear he wanted to enjoy some pre-prandial foreplay… a little nuzzling. Which he and Miss Pucker immediately got into, thank God!.

Now here’s more good news. After they’d paid their bill with me and took their table to dine, I’m happy to report I’d mastered her apple martini (if one can call that mastery).  For Little Miss Pucker ordered three more drinks, none of which got sent back, and it led to a lot of “mid” and “post” prandial nuzzling. They were two happy peas in a pod of Bar-land bliss.

Nah, they couldn’t have been married!

Over and out from bar-land, see ya’ next week-end.

PS: Anyone know about this stuff called Grecian Formula? 🙂

30 Responses to ““Pucker Up!””

  1. 1 Comrade PhysioProf August 7, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    So she had four fucken martinis by the end of the meal? Jeezus fuck, holmes, that’s enough to even put me under the fucken table.

  2. 2 scribbler50 August 7, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    Think of it this way, Watson, these weren’t really martinis. After I added all that apple (think of it as orange juice) what she had was the equivalent of four plain old screwdrivers. And I know you could handle THAT!!!

  3. 3 physiobabe August 8, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Hubba, hubba. Little Miss Pucker is a flirt. Didn’t you wonder why she monopolized your time while her date just sat there?

  4. 4 M.Lane August 8, 2010 at 10:24 am

    I understand your point perfectly, but there is something I like a LOT about her. The nuzzling perhaps.

    I really like the Drones Club, PG Wodehouse reference. And of course I completely agree. I get rather tired of being asked if I want any vermouth in my martini.


  5. 5 blue girl August 8, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    Sweet, sweet and hilarious post, Scribbler. Perfect sketch, I could picture the entire scenario!

    And I was snickering through the whole thing. But this?

    “Then I walked away to a tinkle of laughter for the very last time it appeared, for short of her calling me back to perhaps sew on a fucking button”

    …made me laugh out loud!

    And also: “A real martini is gin or vodka dashed with vermouth (wet or dry), and the rest is nothing but nonsense (shaken not stirred)”

    Preach it, Brotha!

  6. 6 scribbler50 August 8, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    physiobabe: Nice of you to say that, my dear, but if that was her way of flirting this woman is a sadist! I haven’t spent that much time on a drink since I boiled a pot of tea over a slow flame.
    Later, tater!

    M.I.Lane: Yeah, like I said, she WAS nice… just woefully clueless as to all the attention she was demanding. And I’m not surprised you liked the Wodehouse reference, given what I read on your wonderful web site he’s right up your alley. Meanwhile, you really get asked if you want vermouth in your martini? That surprises me. That’s like ordering a screwdriver and being asked if you want orange juice with the vodka!
    Thanks for stopping by.

    blue girl: Hey there, friend, good to hear from you again. I’m so glad you enjoyed my little encounter. And not for nothin’, I laughed myself when the button thing came to me.
    All the best!

  7. 7 Anonymoustache August 9, 2010 at 7:04 am

    An apple martini sounds only marginally less disgusting than a chocolate martini….but it’s still pretty pucked up.
    Also, I’m relieved to hear that you refuse to waste you time memorizing the recipes for every focktail du jour….I’m sure you can get the damn things instantly on your phone/PDA if and when needed anyway. If there isn’t already some such program, there should be one…..I can see the ad campaign….”Want to fix the perfect apple tequila mudslide?…there’s an app (or should I say a Schnapp) for that…”

  8. 8 HyeFye August 9, 2010 at 9:14 am

    Hey Bartender,

    ” … you think THAT’s the sacrilege … ” made me laugh out loud. Thanks for that. Might become a new catch-phrase, until it’s worn out and retires to your Cliche Hall of Fame.

    I say this need to imbibe oddly complex concoctions has just gone to far (what IS a chocolate martini, anyway?). Reminds me of the old Bill Maher joke about Starbucks, something like, when your coffee is frozen and has caramel and whipped cream and chocolate syrup in it, you can’t call it coffee. It’s a milkshake.

    PS, I’ll back up M.I.Lane here. I, too, have been asked if I want vermouth in my martini. A real head-scratcher, no?

  9. 9 scribbler50 August 9, 2010 at 9:16 am

    Punmeister Stache: Even if I did know how to do that on my phone (which I don’t), I still wouldn’t make a freaking “Chocolate Martini.” That IS wading into soda jerk territory. By the way, I love your example of the “apple tequila mudslide”, very funny, and something I’ll bet some clown is already working on out there. Why it’s enough to drive your friendly bartender up a wall (banger)! Sorry. Or to put his ass in a (Singapore) sling. (Sorry again.) Or… ahh… to (Planter’s) punch somebody if you catch my Continental.

    Later, Bro.

    HyeFye: Thanks for that, I appreciate it, and I won’t let it make the Cliche Hall of Fame. Love the Bill Maher line too, that really says it, no? But again, “Do you want vermouth?” still surprises me. These bartenders must be twelve. A martini is a martini and it’s up to the customer to specify “dry” or otherwise. Because the otherwise is… “a chilled (vodka / gin) straight up”.
    Thanks for your comment.

  10. 10 Courtney August 9, 2010 at 10:19 am

    I drink vodka martinis only because gin for whatever reason doesn’t agree with my chemical make up and turns me super mean, like ready to fight mean – but I agree most of these “cocktail martinis” are ridiculous! That said, I will cop to having a cosmo around Chrismtas time with my mom because she enjoys them so much but otherwise, yuck.

  11. 11 scribbler50 August 9, 2010 at 10:55 am

    Courtney: Hah, guess what? Gin doesn’t agree with me either. It doesn’t make me mean though (which it does to more than a few people I have found), but it makes me instead morose. Or pensive which means not social. A beautiful gin martini, chilled and stirred to perfection with one olive, can actually bring me down if that makes sense. Damn it!

    And as far as the Cosmo goes, I can give that a pass, it doesn’t really bother me to make one. As long as it stays a Cosmo and doesn’t become “A Cosmo but with Cointreau, Mandarin instead of Citron,” etc. and all that other accompanying phony B.S. Because first of all it doesn’t call itself a martini, it’s simply a popular cocktail now that happens to come in a martini glass. Just like a Manhattan. So as Mike Myers’s character as the Jewish aunt would say, “No big whoop!” And unlike all this other nonsense and thanks to Sex and the City, it looks like the Cosmo is here to stay.

    Meanwhile, a funny thing happened the other night involving the Cosmopolitan. This couple came in, somewhere in their mid forties I’d say, and the woman did the ordering. She said, “Absolut on the rocks with a lime and a Cosmo.” And when I placed the Cosmo in front of her she said, “Wrong way! He’s the Cosmo.” Now there’s a guy secure in his manhood!
    Thanks for stopping by.

  12. 12 Jager August 9, 2010 at 3:16 pm


    I trust you aren’t making any of those “new cocktails” that are infused with bacon flavor…I’ll have a Jack on the rocks with a side plate of bacon maybe, just keep it out of my drinks, please.

    Nothing is more irritating than listening to someone on the next stool, order a drink and then proceed to tell the bartender, how to make it.

  13. 13 Anonymoustache August 9, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Tsk tsk tsk….fell into then pun trap, eh?

    Also, HyeFye, Scrib50,
    I first encountered a chocolate martini in a fine martini/cigar bar in Birmingham called the Blue Monkey. On the rare occasion that the missus imbibes spirits, the choc martini is her drink of choice. I’ll be fair to her and say that, going by the one sip I was forced to have, it is not as disgusting as it sounds. I’m told that it is made with Stoli, Godiva chocolate liqueur and Bailey’s — at least that’s how I make it for the missus. I’m telling ya Scrib, the next time a ‘fancy cocktail’ type (particularly of the feminine kind, as they are more partial to chocolate it seems) strides into the bar and asks for what you would recommend, go ahead and give this a whirl and then sit back and rake in the tips.
    You know, something just occurred to me, inspired by the Bill Maher line on coffee, no doubt — you could also throw in a shot of espresso in there (I mean, that could only improve the taste, right?) and call it a Mocha Frappatini. Patent that shit and retire to your own private island, my man!

  14. 14 scribbler50 August 9, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    Jager: No, no bacon, no ham, no salami and no beef in anything I mix! The only bacon that hits my bar is that which the kitchen places in our great Club Sandwich. By the way, I don’t mind a customer telling me how to make a drink if I ask them to, which I’ve done from time to time with some of these foo-foo drinks (and if they’re nice about it), but I agree with you… don’t play bartender from that side of the bar.

    Anonymoustache: Hey, man, I’m sure the chocolate martini tastes good, REAL good (can’t agree on the espresso though, which already exists by the way though it doesn’t have your clever name to identify it), but again… call me a fossil but I just don’t want to get into all that mess. There are places for that stuff and bartenders for that stuff and God bless them all, it’s just not coming from my corner of the universe. And besides, too much upkeep maintaining an island.

  15. 15 Jager August 9, 2010 at 8:57 pm


    The week I left for college The Old Man took me to one of his favorite bars for lunch and he started giving the talk that begins with, “I know your going to drink at school, so whatever you do stick with beer or drinks that don’t try to cover up the taste of the booze’….I said, “Dad, don’t worry, the first time I got drunk was at 15 and John and I split a pint of Lime Vodka and I can still tadte it”…the Old Man said “Good, let’s eat”!

  16. 16 Petro August 10, 2010 at 11:36 pm


    I require your professional assessment.

    I would order my Blue Sapphire martini dry by quipping, “just frighten it a bit with the vermouth.”

    Was that at all witty?

    It’s probably one of those “if you have to ask” things, but I don’t want to water down your punchline…

  17. 17 scribbler50 August 11, 2010 at 8:28 am

    Petro: Yes, for whatever it’s worth I think it’s a good ‘un… it’s witty, makes the point, and obviously I haven’t heard it before which helps. The usual tired line for that kind of request is, “Just pass the vermouth bottle over the glass, bartender.” I like yours much better.

  18. 18 HyeFye August 11, 2010 at 9:00 am

    Alfred Hitchcock famously recited his recipe for a martini as “five parts gin and a quick glance at a bottle of vermouth.”

    I always thought Winston Churchill originated the “pass the bottle over” quip, but he actually referred to a martini as “drinking a tumbler of gin while bowing in the direction of France.”

    Poor vermouth, the Rodney Dangerfield of adult beverages.

  19. 19 Jager August 11, 2010 at 10:23 am

    Ever heard of a Liz Taylor Martini? Vermouth in a perfume spritzer, hold glass side ways, give the spritzer one squeeze, pour in the gin and enjoy.

  20. 20 scribbler50 August 11, 2010 at 10:38 am

    HyeFye: Like Hitchcock’s but I love Churchill’s “…bowing to France”. That’s perfect!. The man’s entire life was a book of quotes.

    Jager: I not only heard of it but a woman actually came in once and did that. That exact thing. Sadly it wasn’t Liz Taylor.

  21. 21 Donna B. August 11, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    Now I want a martini. I shouldn’t drink martinis. Thanks a lot, y’all.

  22. 22 scribbler50 August 11, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Donna B: In the immortal words of Nancy Reagan, “Just say no!” 🙂

  23. 23 Petro August 11, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    HyeFye: “drinking a tumbler of gin while bowing in the direction of France.”

    Oh, crap, THAT is funny. Never heard it before. LOL!

  24. 24 Donna B. August 12, 2010 at 1:15 am

    But… I’m a Nike girl! “Just do it” is SO much more fun!

  25. 25 JSaw August 12, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    Shocked! Shocked! That no-one commiserated with you about the Grecian formula need. 😉

    Being guilty of ordering and DRINKING all those monstrous concoctions I’m happy to be completely rehabilitated.

    However, I heard that the “original” martini was almost 1:1 gin and vermouth!! Any truth to that?

  26. 26 scribbler50 August 13, 2010 at 12:44 am

    JSaw: Sorry to say I don’t know the original recipe. Nor am I old enough to remember! But I’m told in Europe it’s the reverse of ours… all vermouth and a dash of gin… so it could’ve be 1:1, somewhere in the middle. I’m trying to come up with a logic here to cover my ignorance.

  27. 27 Petro August 13, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    Wikipedia on the Martini:


    Jsaw, there is an unsourced claim that martinis were 1:1 before prohibition…

    …and also that shaken martinis have a higher antioxidant level than stirred ones, Scrib.

  28. 28 scribbler50 August 14, 2010 at 12:02 am

    Thanks for that, Petro, someone’s on the ball around here!

  29. 29 Petro August 14, 2010 at 1:25 am

    “…someone’s on the [high]ball around here!”

    There. Fixed it for ya.

  30. 30 JSaw August 18, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    Thanks Petro. I’m always the one looking for more info… hee hee.

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