Of Bars, Booze, and Bartending - Proving "Coughlin's Law" Invalid Since Feb '05

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Clever Customers Who Make Up Drinks

Tonight, in the middle of the three-deep rush, a really nice, middle-aged guy finds a place at the bar, catches my eye, and I ask him what he'd like.

(The key to getting a bartender's attention has nothing to do with waving your money in her face... we get it, everyone at the bar can pay us for their drinks, OK? Instead, it's all about eye contact. Smile, look friendly, look thirsty, but most importantly, just lock eyes with her, and you're next. Works every time.)

"My wife invented a drink!" he tells me, excitedly. We're a little busy, and I'd usually be annoyed and impatient with an amateur weekend mixologist who wants to teach me a drink, but he's kind of adorable, so I take a deep breath, smile, and ask him to tell me what's in it.

"Well, first of all, you have to have a snifter, do you have one, you have to start with one," he says, with the solemnity of someone trying to explain the Rosetta Stone.

"OK," I reassure him. I'm still smiling, and I think he's kinda funny, far less annoying than the impatient patrons waving their twenties.

"Fill it with ice!" he commands, suddenly back to being all whipped-up, and I'm just kind of laughing now.

"Got it!!" I say, biting my lower lip.

"Next you put in an ounce of Amaretto... the kind in the square bottle."

I grab the Amaretto di Saronno, obediently pour in an ounce, snap to attention and look to him for more instruction.

"OK, now it's orange juice."

" Well... how much orange juice?"

"All the way to the top, and then you're done!"

As I'm pouring in the OJ, I look to him, raise my eyebrow, and say, "Are you... sure? That's it?" It comes out like an apology. "No garnish?"

"Nope! That's it! It looks good, huh? My wife just loves it, she made it up."

"Ya know, it really does look yummy, that's a great drink right there," I tell him, as I drop the swizzle stick and separate him from his $6.00.

I never thought to ask him what she'd named it, but, tonight, I met the Husband of the Woman who Invented an Amaretto and Orange Juice in a Snifter, Over Ice.

I'm signing autographs tomorrow between 5 and 7pm.

Scarface, you were out of place in Ohio
Too bad you were out ahead and you're slowin'
You were feelin' like a bomb without a target

Look out Joe, I think the sky is fallin'
Seems that all the clouds have turned to stone
I'm callin' you from somewhere deep in Ohio

- Jayhawks, "Somewhere in Ohio"

Thursday, February 23, 2006

It's TavernWench's Birthday!

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One year ago today, I decided to entertain myself by starting and writing a blog about booze, bartending, the service industry, and other random topics of my choosing.

It occurred to me that, instead of risking my job by screaming my frustrations at my customers, it would be quite fun if I could just write about them. Everyone's been to a bar, right? I thought it might be something people were interested in...

Like all blogs, it was a masturbatory effort, and there were times when I really felt I had nothing to contribute; just another girl with a blog. I struggled at first, but when I began to hit my stride, you started reading and commenting. Who knew? Some of you even pulled up a bar stool and stayed until closing time, and it encouraged me to write even more about the nature of this business, as well as the kinds of things people actually talk about in bars... sports, politics, and sex. You're the best regulars a bartender could hope for.

The experiment worked, and it's been a blast. As cheesy-sentimental as it sounds, I really want to thank all of you who visit. I've had the best time with it, and it still blows my mind that anyone reads this blog at all. You warm my heart and sharpen my wit, and you inspire me to keep at it.

Thank you, TavernWench Readers, for an amazing year.

I'm honored to be your bartender. No tip required.

Happy Birthday to Me.

A Round of Guiness, On The House!

On Edit: That's the creepiest birthday cake photo I could find. If you can top it, I'm all eyes.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Funny Photo Way-Back Machine

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I'm sure the White House was hoping a story would come along to finally bury the "Cheney
Shoots an Old Guy in The Face" headline, but I doubt this is what they had in mind.

Bush Port Defiance Fuels Bipartisan Anger - AP

Arab Company, White House Had Secret Agreement - AP

Monday, February 20, 2006

Booze + Espresso

After a spring-like winter in Ohio, the weather suddenly has a bite to it, finally, in the last days of February. Even this late in the season, thoughts turn to delicious, warming liquids sipped slowly by a fire. Even one of those phony, trying-to-be-cozy gas fireplaces you find barside at some restaurants will do. Or you could just turn on the Olympics for its wintry, wonderful background, as I did.

Yes, yes, you enjoy an Irish Coffee from time to time, but you sniff at the combination of alcohol and mega-caffeine. I'll bet you downed a few Jäger and Red Bulls just last weekend, you hypocrite. And those are frigid-cold, kind of like your car in the morning.

For those of you who work at bars with espresso machines, or even for the home barrista, I think you'll enjoy these recipes, which I've been toying around with and tweaking over the weekend. Don't worry... they're mostly liqueur and don't pack a particularly powerful punch.

Each drink requires one of those giant cappuccino cups... have a little fun choosing a set and expressing your bartending or entertaining style. Obviously, all that espresso and liqueur won't fit in a demitasse.

Espresso Zhivago

3 tall shots of espresso (double shot + 1)
1/2 oz Stoli Vanilla Vodka
1/2 oz Cointreau (or Grand Marnier if you prefer a stronger orange flavor)

Stir well
Top with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg

Espresso Keoke

3 tall shots of espresso
1/4 oz Courvosier
1/2 oz Kahlua
1/4 oz Dark Crème de Cacao
Stir well
Top with a dollop of whipped cream

Espresso Schweiz

3 tall shots of espresso
1/2 oz White Crème de Cacao
1/2 oz White Peppermint Schnapps
Stir well
Heavy whipping cream (whipped, of course) to fill cup
Don't use a stir-stik to sip... drink should be sipped through the cream

Enjoy, and even for the times you prefer your espresso alcohol-free, stay warm during these late February days. Cheers!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Can't Help It

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Hey, I'm no hunter (not that there's anything wrong with that), but why are you hunting birds and at the same time aiming your weapon at those folks who are 6 feet and under? Sweet Buttery Jesus, even I took an NRA safety course. Don't birds fly in the sky? Why are you shooting in the brush, you dumbass?

Just wondering... I mean, seriously. Doesn't Cheney worry about shooting his dogs, let alone aged humans, fer chrissake? It would be funny, if the old guy wasn't in intensive care, and if the White House Press Corps weren't ignoring that crucial slant to the story. The man was shot. He's not as well as we've been led to believe.

Start reporting. If the Vice President wasn't drunk, then he's got even more explaining to do.

In historical news, Cheney joins Aaron Burr on the short list of "Vice Presidents Who Have Shot A Man While In Office." We do indeed live in interesting times.

The Vice President of the United States Shot an Elderly Man in the Face.

Now, that's a headline if I ever did read one.

Well, I went home with the waitress, the way I always do
How was I to know she was with the Russians, too
I was gambling in Havana, I took a little risk
Send lawyers, guns and money
Dad, get me out of this
I'm the innocent bystander
Somehow I got stuck between the rock and the hard place
And I'm down on my luck
And I'm down on my luck
And I'm down on my luck

Warren Zevon, "Lawyers, Guns and Money"

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Healthy Choice, Part Deux

I'm pleased to report that my second attempt at actually enjoying a Healthy Choice entree wasn't as traumatic as my first.

This is the Meatloaf dinner, and the cooked version somewhat resembles the package this time, don't you think?

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Pretty tasty too, after loading it down with pepper and salt. The only drawback was the apple dessert... awful, and it made my kitchen smell like a DuPont Napalm factory. I wonder what they put in that sauce... on second thought, no. No, I do not.

I planned to settle down with my brown beef/pork patty, watch the Olympic Opening Ceremonies and flip through some mags, hence the Linsday Lohan cover. Maybe she should take the hint and try eating something?

Hey, Linds... just stay away from the macaroni and cheese. Even I had trouble keeping it down, and I was quite hungry at the time. I just don't think you're ready, hon.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Choirgirl Hotel

It's been an awfully strange week around the ol' Tav.

Very near the restaurant, a swanky new hotel has been scheduled to open for months. I've really been anticipating it, hoping that the hotel guests, especially the business types with fat expense accounts, tire of the on-site bar and restaurant and discover our place. Well, the swanky hotel finally opened, and it didn't take long before a whole new slew of customers started frequenting my bar.

It's been good, and it's been bad. I've really enjoyed meeting people from across the world, but you'd honestly think some of them thought they'd just walked into the Playboy Club, and we employees are mere Bunnies without the proper costume.

Most recently, a (quite older) gentleman spent a little time at the bar, ordering dinner and making small talk. When he was ready to leave, I told him how thrilled we all were that the hotel had finally opened, and told him I hope he enjoyed the rest of his stay. He looked around for a minute, and then leaned in as close as he could to say, "Listen, the hotel is really nice, you should come over and meet me for a drink."

His proposition threw me off; I just didn't see it coming, not from him. I smiled and told him that I'd probably be at work for several more hours, and thanks, but no thanks. He persisted, saying "There aren't that many people here. You could probably leave a few minutes after you lock the doors." He was right, catching me in my friendly little lie, but I wiped the smile from my face, looked him in the eye and said, "No. Thank you, but no."

(One of the things I really hate about being from the midwest is this fakey-nice thing we put on all the time. No matter how creepy or persistent someone is, I'm compelled to respond in kind. "Oh, no, thank you, really, thanks so much for asking, but no, very nice of you, thanks." It's ridiculous, but I think if you're born around here, you're just automatically nice to even the most sinister of people.)

He signs his credit card slip, then reaches in his pocket. He hands me his business card and says, "If you change your mind, my cell phone number's on there. I think you'll change your mind."

Turns out the guy is some kind of Lead Engineer for Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth. I thought his accent sounded Texan.

After he left, I'm just standing there staring at this business card, a little stunned, wondering if this kind of tactic actually works from time to time. One of my favorite regulars, Baseball Doug, who was sitting at the end of the bar during this exchange, started laughing. "He just tried to pick you up, didn't he?"

"I'm not sure, I think so, but maybe he was just being friendly?" I replied, that midwestern, nicey, give-him-the-benefit-of-the-doubt thing, dammit dammit, involuntarily exiting my mouth. It's other-worldly. I'm telling you, there's no controlling it.

"He was totally trying to pick you up," offered another of the new hotel customers, not missing a beat. And this guy was on his cell phone the entire time.

So, maybe the new hotel wasn't the blessing I was hoping it would be. I certainly hope that Lockheed Martin Man was one-of-a-kind. Since I started working in a more upscale place, I really thought I'd moved past my "getting hit on constantly while tending sports bars" bartending phase.

Met him in a Hotel
Met him in a guess world
Guessed anyone but you
You were wild, where are you now?
You were wild,where are you now?
Give me more, give me more, give me more
I have to learn to let you crash down

Tori Amos, "Hotel"

Friday, February 03, 2006

It's The Arts

This post has something to do with bartending, in that it involves an old, favorite regular of mine. Wait for it... it's the best I have to offer in terms of name-dropping.

It's Awards Season, the time when Hollywood bends over backwards to pat each other on the back and congratulate their damned selves for a great year in film. It's funny, really, when you think about how self-congratulatory the entertainment industry is. Can't remember the last time I saw "Best Cop/Firefighter/Nurse/Secretary/Account Executive/Convenience Store Attendant Ever" in prime-time. Do they have a "Walk of Fame"? Maybe it's because they're not wearing Michael Kors?

But, I'm only human, and relatively girly, so I get wrapped up in it. I don't want to be too unaffected; I eat the Awards Season with a spoon, and now I get to share it with the deliciously bitchy Isaac Mizrahi on the red carpet. Oh, the gowns, the jewelry, the hair, the "People Who Died" montage. I just love it so damned much.

I saw a lot of great films this year, and I'd rank them so... my criteria is simple: films that remained, lingered, hung around and entered my dreams, some more than others, and keeping in mind that I haven't seen them all:

1. Hustle & Flow
2. Brokeback Mountain
3. The Constant Gardener
4. Good Night and Good Luck
5. Batman Begins (regardless of Katie Holmes-Cruise's involvement)
Honorable Mention: The 40 Year-Old Virgin

Why is it that funny films never seem to get an Academy nod? And anyone who saw it knows "Batman Begins" got screwed.

I'm rooting for Terrence Howard in "Hustle & Flow" for Best Actor, main. And my favorite nomination is "Hard Out Here For A Pimp" for Best Original Song from a Motion Picture. Woot!!! Who are they going to get to perform that?

Bernadette Peters?

I was having a conversation with a bar regular about how awful the Academy Awards are; it seems we were both visiting the internets for conversation about the topic. The winners are always so damned conventional, we agreed. We were talking about the year (2001?) when the horsey-faced Julia Roberts of "Erin Brockovich" robbed Ellen Burstyn of her award for her stunning, heart-wrenching, groundbreaking performance in "Requiem For A Dream." Or, remember when "Shakespeare in Love" won "Best Picture" over "Saving Private Ryan"? Or "Gladiator" over "Traffic"?

I have a pretty strong feeling that the trite message film known as "Crash" will win it all. And what a shame that would be, in a year of good movies, for a refreshing change. "Crash." Seriously? The entire film seemed so contrived and predictable to me... yes, since you beat it over my head for two hours, I guess I get it, we're all racists, and we don't even know it. Thanks, I feel so enlightened... if you're craving a film about a similar subject matter that will really affect you, watch "Do The Right Thing" again. Now that was a film. And better acted, probably because Sandra Bullock, Matt Dillon (nominated!!!?!!) and Brendan Fraser weren't in it.

I used to enjoy this great regular of mine, a Hollywood character actor living in Cincinnati, Daniel Von Bargen. He's best known for his roles as George's boss in "Seinfeld" and as the eye-patched Commandant of the military school in "Malcolm in the Middle." A great guy, the best bar tales, and one hell of a fantastic tipper. But I always knew he'd reached his limit when he'd start talking about what an amazing film "Shakespeare in Love" was. Still, I adored him, and I miss working at that bar, since he lived right across the street.

So, it's Awards Season!! Hell, the Grammy Awards are on Wednesday! Does anyone care? Football ends on Sunday, we've got a few weeks to go until the Olympics, and I'm not about to start a NASCAR thread. Pitchers and catchers report in less than two weeks...

You know it's hard out here for a pimp
When he's tryin' to get his money fo' the rent
Fo' the Cadillacs and gas money spent
Will have a whole lotta bitches jumpin' ship

- Shug & DJay - Hustle & Flow - "Hard Out Here For A Pimp"