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

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

They Hate Each Other in Public

One of the most uncomfortable things a server or bartender has to endure is the "Couple Fighting." We're the middleman by default; we're the peacemaker, the seamstress trying to sew the patches together for them, in an attempt to save them from public humiliation, somehow. We try to pretend everything is groovy, while they subject us to their personal anguish, but they've decided to come out into the light and torture each other in public, so their bitter differences become our problem. There's really nothing more frustrating in this business; nothing more heartbreaking. Still, I have to keep peace at the bar and make certain everyone's happy and having a good time.

Plus, I'm not the doctor. I'm not qualified. I'm good at what I do, which is pouring booze and making small talk.

I find them selfish. It's thankfully uncommon; most couples dining or drinking out are happy and jovial and good sports. There's always the exception to the rule, though, and this couple was a doozy.

They arrived half-crocked, honestly. They both had visited Italy recently, and the woman got a real kick out of impressing me with her rudimentary Italian. She couldn't decide on which Italian wine she wanted, so she decided to taste them all, providing a lecture on the history and region of the wine after each sip. Sweetheart, that's why I'm the bar manager; I choose the wines I think you'll like and then I sell them to you. I already know what you're telling me. I just nod and pour, though, because it's also my job to be polite to you. And you don't need the added tension; clearly, I'm a more considerate person than you.

I side with the husband for a moment, because she's obnoxious, but he was aloof in all fairness. They arrived in a shit mood, but halfway through dinner, they really began fighting. I have no idea what the argument was about, but it was clear they weren't happy. Snipping, sniping misery. I did my best to just let them be, tending to my other customers (Belgian Eddie paid a visit; banner night for Jen!!). I cleared their plates and she demanded her Limoncello.

Her husband demanded the check, and I became the middleman.

"Limoncello?" I asked, looking at him, doing the best to turn my eyes into question marks of guidance.

"No. Check."

"Fuck him, give me the Limoncello!"

What am I supposed to do? I eye him, I eye her. They eye each other in utter hatred. Hatred. I choose the path of least resistance, pour a Limoncello, print the check, and serve both at the same time.

He slaps down a credit card, says to his wife "Sign it," and walks out the door. She nurses the drink and starts chatting with Belgian Eddie (of all people), wiping tears from her eyes. I hand her non-absorbent scratchy beverage napkins, and feel horrible for her.

The entire episode makes me question the institution of marriage. Her husband does emerge, maybe twenty minutes later, to collect her. I hope they're OK, even though it's clear to me that they won't ever be OK.

Could we be much closer if we tried
We could stay at home and stare into each other's eyes
Maybe we could last an hour
Maybe then we'd see right through
Always something breaking us in two

- Joe Jackson, "Breaking Us In Two"

Thursday, June 22, 2006

I'm Not Feelin' Croatia's Uniforms.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006


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(REUTERS Photo/Kieran Doherty)

Some friends were bitching about the US-Italy match. "Are the Italians made of porcelain?" they protested. "They barely fall down, and then they're carried off on stretchers, only to return to play thirty seconds later."

Fair enough.

I find the Academy Award-worthy acting of international footballers amusing, though... the falling down, the flailing of arms and legs, the blatant attempts to draw attention to otherwise questionable fouls. Maybe that's just my read, but it's one of my favorite nuances of the sport; who can be more dramatic? England, Italy? Argentina, Spain? Brava! I'm not whining about soccer not being physical enough, mind you... I find the acting enjoyable, it's one of football's charms, and it's a hoot. Seriously.

With that in mind, I offer a toast to USA's Brian McBride (photo), for trotting off the pitch (he returned quickly) rather stoic, rather bloodied, and on his own two feet. He made me proud, even though he's no actor. And here's another toast, to Italy and USA, for playing their hearts out despite some overzealous officiating, and for providing the most exciting, most physical match of the World Cup so far. I carry no match bias, of course; Spain was very exciting today and Fernando Torres is the star forward of my fantasy-league team, but that Italy-USA match was something to behold.

Maybe I should temporarily rename this blog WorldCupWench...

So, Tuesday... what to do? Germany and England, my Lieblingsmannschaften, playing on the same day, with England scheduled in a manner that has me leaving for work at the half.

I guess I'll wake up early, watch Germany (bleary-eyed), and set the Tivo for England, hoping to avoid a score and watch it in its entirety after work.

I doubt I'll get a rush of locals at the bar, spoiling the match for me. World Cup might be catching steam around here, but I still can't imagine barstools packed with good ol' boys talking about how damned serious a contender Spain has become.

In Bronson Arroyo news... 9-3 and a complete game, bitches!! Woot!

Do you carry the moon in your womb
Someone said that you're fading too soon
Drifting and floating and fading away
Are you wasting away in your skin
Are you missing the love of your kin
Nodding and melting and fading away

- Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Porcelain"

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Friday, June 16, 2006

Everybody Loves a "Hottest Bartender" Contest

I'm aware of two Hottest Bartender Contests taking place; I'm a contestant in neither.

First up? America's Hottest Bartenders Contest, which I didn't realize existed (tip from Mike at CityGuide). Delightfully attractive folks abound at this link. Vote for your fave! Celebrate democracy! Seriously, I enjoy skilled bartenders in general, especially sexy ones, even though I'm a little salty that they didn't reach outside of the big cities.

AOL CityGuide - America's Hottest Bartenders

America's too big for one Hottest Bartender Contest, so Tabasco offers its own, recipe-based showdown, and being a hot sauce lover, this is something I could really get behind; in fact, maybe I should submit my Chernobyl Bloody Mary recipe?

Tabasco's Hottest Bartender Contest

Here's to hot bartenders, any way you shake it! Bottoms up!

In World Cup news, I totally Googled on purpose happened upon this site devoted to the lovely WAGs, as in, Wives and Girlfriends of the England football/soccer team:

Real Footballers' Wives Journal

They're frolicking about Germany, spending loads of money and looking Stepford-perfect. I think they're fantastic. A little eye candy, if you didn't get enough from the Hot Bartender contests.

Congratulations to England, but... all this build-up and hype over Crouch's Robo-Dance, and after today's goal, we got nada. What is that about? Americans are all about the endzone dance, ESPN taunted me, and I feel denied.

I'd like to thank Adidas for their latest World Cup commercial, since it introduced me to Jim Noir, and his music, and his following, irresistible lyrics.

If you don't give my football back
I'm gonna get my dad on you
I only kicked it over your fence
And broke a silly gnome or two
Eanie meany, run away, meany run away
Steal my football, run away
I'll get it back someday

- Jim Noir, "Eanie Meany"

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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Finally, A World Cup Shot!

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AFP Photo - Jörg Koch

This is sweet...

Caption: Manuel Götzendörfer takes a sip of his so-called "Germany-Cocktail" 01 June 2006 in Munich. Together with two other students of Munich's Technical University, he developed the drink in the national colors of Germany for the FIFA Football World Cup to take place in Germany from 09 June to 09 July 2006. The cocktail mainly consists of black vodka, blood orange juice mixed with grenadine (red) and orange juice (gold).

Yay!! As soon as I saw the photo, I knew I had to make it. It was gorgeous, sounded like a great pousse cafe to me, and I was thrilled to find a workable drink after searching endlessly for World Cup Cocktail ideas. I love layering shots, and this drink seemed easy, and potable, and gave me just enough clues to try to recreate it. I read it this way:


In a pony glass, layer one-third of each ingredient, in order, pouring slowly:

Blood orange juice (mix with regular orange juice if too red)
Black vodka

I went to the grocery to pick up a few blood oranges, just so I could test it tonight. I squeezed the two blood oranges using a juicer, yielding about a highball-glass full of juice, enough for six shots. The blood orange juice came out more golden than expected, so I didn't mix it with ordinary OJ. I decided orange juice was the densest (when in a quandary, consult this amazing density chart from Drink Nation, a boon for amateur and pro bartenders alike), so I poured it into a narrow, stemless pony glass (just like the one in the photo), filling one-third of the glass. Next, I slowly layered grenadine. It floated easily on top of the OJ; I didn't use a bar spoon, I just poured it slowly down the side of the pony glass. Grenadine is so damned thick that practically anything will float on top, so I poured Blavod black vodka, since it's an ingredient we actually carry, using a bar spoon and pouring slowly. It looked perfect, and was surprisingly easy to make. I didn't think it would work out the first time, but it did... and it was sehr lecker!

What should it be called? The gimmick is that it uses the host nation colors, but "Germany-Cocktail" isn't doing it for me. Even the caption refers to it as "so-called." I'm open to thoughts. This drink deserves a proper christening.

Congratulations to Germany on their victory in the most exciting match so far. To the World, and The World Cup! And an extra special-toast to Manuel Götzendörfer, inventor of the poorly-named, beautiful and köstlich "Germany-Cocktail."


It's fine with me, of course, but has anyone notice that U2 seems to be the official band of the World Cup? It's very subtle, but listen closely, and you might just catch them. Heh! You might see that Adidas +10 commercial a few times, as well.

Neon heart, dayglo eyes
A city lit by fireflies
They're advertising in the skies
For people like us
And I miss you when you're not around
I'm getting ready to leave the ground....
Ooh ooh ooh, Ooh ooh ooh
Oh you look so beautiful tonight

U2, "City of Blinding Lights"

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Saturday, June 10, 2006

The White Zin Bandit

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This four-top in a nice booth are puttin' away White Zinfandel like nobody's business. They're into their third and fourth glasses quickly, so I ask their server, Josh, "You think maybe they should just get a bottle?"

"Thing is, only two of them are drinking it," he tells me. Of course, he's happy to sell it to them by the glass, since the bottle is always cheaper. Can't blame him, I'd do the same in his shoes. But it's Friday, it's hectic; I'd rather hand over a bottle, a marble sleeve and some glasses, send you on your way, and go back to mixing cocktails. It's shaping up to be a wine night, and my favorite key is starting to go crooked.

When the couple goes for glasses five and six, I'm bewildered. They're getting close to a bottle of White Zinfandel each. It's damned impressive, because I just can't imagine drinking that much bad wine while dining, and they've got to be seriously buzzed by now. Are they even on salads yet? I set the glasses on the bar mat and work through the rest of the order chits.

Josh has a busy section, and he's quick to return, saying, "Hey, I need another White Zin." I look up and see only one of the two glasses I poured sitting on the mat. I'm pretty sure I'm hallucinating, but it's getting crazy, and I pour another glass instead of protesting. Just as Josh grabs it, I see a man walking out of the men's restroom, and he practically slinks while he sets a pink-tinged empty white wine glass at the busiest corner of the bar. We make eye contact, he's slightly charming, he grins, and I lose him.

I'm not 100% certain, but I'm pretty sure that man with the Cheshire Cat grin nabbed a glass of wine from under my nose, and chugged it in the bathroom. White Zin, mind you.

Just when you think nothing can surprise you. Way off my game tonight.

I can't seem to face up to the facts
I'm tense and nervous and I can't relax
I can't sleep cause my bed's on fire
Don't touch me, I'm a real live wire
Psycho killer, qu'est que c'est
Far better
Run away

- Talking Heads, "Psycho Killer"

Sunday, June 04, 2006

World Cup? Anyone?

I'm really, really excited, but 'round these parts, I seem to be the only one. It's not just because I think Beckham footballers is are scumptilicious, either.

Plus, it's in Germany, and I speak a little Deutsch, and I just wish I was there, is all. Wouldn't it be fun, hanging out with the world, making mirth, watching football, and not slogging away at my daily gig? You know, to be Prince Harry, or Mischa Barton, for a day? Good thing it's on ESPN.

Last World Cup, I remember this local bar that made a killing opening early and showing all the matches. Any 'Natian's remember which place that was? It was a damned good idea, and became the talk of the town. I went to watch one of the matches there, early morning, and had a blast. You have to admire a bright innkeeper who comes up with an idea everyone else wished they'd been on top of. Of course I can't think of the name, but I want to... because I want to go back.

I try to stay ahead of things, so I went-a-courtin' World Cup Cocktail recipe ideas this evening, and a quick Google yielded something interesting, an impossible recipe called "The Floral Frenzy," winner of the 42 Below Cocktail World Cup (Australia).

Here's the recipe (real-world bartender comments in bold)

The Floral Frenzy

1 ½ oz 42 Below Passionfruit (can I use Pama? It's not Passionfruit, but it's fruity, and I happen to have it)
1 oz Jaggard Lemon Myrtille (Lemon something... I'm pretty sure I don't have it)
1/2 oz Massenez crème de gingembre (¿qué?)

1 oz pressed apple juice (I've got canned...)
1 oz guava nectar (sub simple syrup)
2 drops of geranium water (you're kidding, right?)
½ vanilla pod (I'll ask the kitchen)
Agavero to rinse (Rinse with tequila? Sounds like this drink could use a little tequila. I know the bartender could, by now)
Top with egg white, sugar, lavender and vanilla bean whip. (I'll give you whipped cream and a sugared lemon)

Serve in collins glass with ice. (Got that part)
Garnish with a single geranium flower. (Fresh out of geraniums. Ya wanna sugared lemon wedge? Some whipped cream, maybe?)

It's clearly a show drink, but it sounds pretty, and delish... even though I have no idea what's in it. Still, it won the Cocktail World Cup, and that's good enough for me. For now. I'm humbled, thank you very much.

The World Cup starts on Friday, and I've got to come up with a drink.

A toast to the dreamers.

Well, I thought about the army
Dad said, "Son, you're fuckin' high"
And I thought, "yeah, there's a first for everything"
So I took my old man's advice
Three sad semesters, it was only 15 grand
Spent in bed
I thought about the army
I dropped out and joined a band instead

- Ben Folds Five, "Army"

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Friday, June 02, 2006

I Will Be Your Dixie Chicken

Earlier today, I was drawn to the Yahoo! headline, "Dixie Chicks Bush-Whacked At Record Stores". I thought it sounded kind of fun and New York Post-y, so of course, I clicked on it.

Turns out it was a Reuters article about the new Dixie Chicks album, "Taking the Long Way," and its debut as Billboard's #1 Album, #1 Country Album, and #1 Internet/Digital Album, and how all of that somehow means that America Hates You.

Although they're the #1 artists in the country, the Chicks' in-store album sales are down, according to the article, in comparison to the debut of their last release, "Home," in 2002. No mention of internet/digital sales; why are those numbers always so mysterious?

It doesn't matter if you're a Dixie Chicks fan, or if you think they're political, or if they piss you off, or if you think they suck, or if you think the music industry will never respect internet/digital sales. What should irritate any music fan about this piece of "rock journalism" is that it asks the reader to take an extraordinary leap in order to buy its premise that the Chicks have somehow been damaged as artists, commercial and otherwise. You'd think they'd wait a few weeks to make such assumptions, after sales have waned, just in the interest of, I don't know, not sounding like idiots, maybe?

A band debuts at #1, one of the strongest debuts in a lackluster year, and we're to conclude that their careers are over, because of some benign and blown-out-of-proportion comment one of them made while pandering to a London crowd over three years ago?

Who writes this garbage? And can I apply, because it really does sound like you can just phone it in, simple common sense be damned. I could learn how to excel at that.

/music journalism rant

Hi, Atrios readers! (I've always wanted to type that.)

Smack, crack, bush-whacked
Tie another one to the racks, baby
Hey, kids, rock and roll
Nobody tells you where to go, baby
What if I ride, what if you walk, what if you rock around the clock
Tick, tock, Tick, tock
What if you did, what if you walk, what if you tried to get off

- R.E.M., "Drive"