Category Archives: Bar Story

How To Make A Raspberry Lemon Drop Martini

Lemon Drop Martinis are becoming increasingly more and more popular.  It’s a decent, girly-manly drink.  It’s sweet, but it can be strong.  I’ve somewhat perfected my recipe, and it goes like this:

2 1/2 oz of Absolut Citron Vodka

Oz simple syrup (sugar water)

1 1/2 oz of lemonade

Rim martini glass with sugar (usually “wiping” rim with lemon wedge works to get it wet so sugar will stick)

Lemon wedge with sugar on it

Last night, I take a half-hour break from the bar, I come back, and my manager informed me that she attempted (LOL) to make a Raspberry Lemon Drop Martini, off the cuff.  I asked her how she made it, and it was all wrong.  I told her, this is how you make it:

2 oz Absolut Raspberri Vodka

1/2 oz of Chambord (basically a raspberry schnapps)

Oz of simple syrup 

1 1/2 oz of lemonade

(Then follow above instructions).

I took the drink to the guy that ordered it, for a taste test.  He took a sip, then pointed at mine.

-Clint

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What is a Cuba Libre?

Guy comes up to the bar, sits down, I approach, say, what’ll it be?  He says, I’ll have a Cuba Libre.  I say, ok.  A rum and Coke with a lime, coming right up.

I’m on the fence with trying to impress your bartenders with the names of drinks.  Occasionally, a patron will come up and exclaim, can you make me a Tooty-Fruity Brutty?!  Ok, I just made that up, but I know, deep down inside, right before the person asks the bartender for that obscure drink they got in Ontario, they KNOW the bartender is not going to know what drink they’re talking about.  So let’s work thru this problem, so we can find another solution to NOT pissing off your bartender.

This is how I’d like the exchange to go:  Hi bartender, I had a drink in a bar in Sasquatch that I really liked.  It was called the Thunderdome.  It had Kahlua, Frangelico, cream, and something else in it.  Have you ever heard of a drink like this, or something similar?

Man, if a patron dropped pure knowledge on me like that, I’d be impressed, instead of the alternative, I’d like a Thunderdome!

Watch, how your bartender rolls their eyes at that.

I’ll be perfectly honest, dropping names of obscure drinks onto your bartender can be lame, and somewhat pretentious.  That’s where the whole Cuba Libre thing comes in.  Know that the bartender knows that drink.  If they don’t, they’re not a very seasoned bartender.  And just say, could I get a rum and Coke with a lime?  And then, mark my words, the bartender will say, a Cuba Libre?  And you’ll say, yeah.  Exactly.  And know, if the exchange goes down like this, the bartender is going to respect you a great deal more, and might even give you a little extra love when making your drink.  Why?  Because point blank no bartender likes to feel like they’re being tested.  Does anyone?  

This happens very rare to me, but I kind of like it when someone says, have you been making any cocktails recently that you’re excited about?  If the bartender says yes, I GUARANTEE you’re going to get a well thought out drink.  You’re basically asking what the bartender has been drinking lately.  And when they say, yeah, I’ve been working on perfecting a Mojito, give it a try!  They might even buy it for you, since, perhaps, the bartender hasn’t perfected it quite yet, and you’re giving them practice.

-CC

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What You Get For Stiffing Your Server

I’m serving at the hotel bar, two ladies sit down in my section. They are of foreign descent. Here’s the problem with foreigners: many times it’s not in their custom to tip, which I am aware of. That’s fine, we all come from different cultures, with different customs. Hey, where these two ladies are from, the servers probably make an amazing hourly rate. They don’t necessarily need a tip. Unfortunately, here in the US of A, servers make a meager wage. That’s all fine of course, as long as their customers are tipping.

I take the ladies order. One wants to start out with hot tea. Unfortunately, the only place we can get hot water is way over in the gift shop. But that’s fine. I’ll hustle over there to get a guest a hot cup of tea. That’s just what I do. The other lady orders a hot chocolate. She says, do you have unsweetened hot chocolate? I’d like that. Huh. Unsweetened hot chocolate? Where the hell you get that? I say, I’m sorry, we don’t have unsweetened hot chocolate, but in the server station we have a Keurig and hot chocolate pods. That’s the best I can do. She thinks for a moment, then says, that’s fine.

I get their drinks, take their order, everything runs smoothly, food gets on the table in a timely manner, and I get their check when they request it.

They leave after some time, I clean off their table, grab their tab, yep, you guessed it…

A big zero in the tip line.

More specifically, they didn’t even put anything in the tip or total line. Just signed the check. Which is almost more annoying.

The next day, I’m serving again, I turn around, and one of the ladies from the night before, approaches.

Oh hi! she says, excitedly. Remember me?

I say, as a matter of fact I do! You were at Table 22 last night, wanted the unsweetened hot chocolate, and at the end of the night, STIFFED ME!!!

Ok, of course I didn’t say that. I just said, yes. I remember you.

With a trace of so what.

She says, I’m looking to get an apple. Do you know where I could find one?

I say, an APPLE? Yeah I got your apple RIGHT HERE (as I grab my crotch).

Ok. No I didn’t say that. Or grab my crotch.

Instead, I say, yeah, you can find apples in the gift shop. Over there.

But I didn’t say it as enthusiastically as I would have said it if she had tipped me. So BLAM lady.

IN YOUR FACE!!!

-Clint

 

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The Origins Of Putting A Lime In A Corona

I’m at the bar with my fellow bartender, guy comes up, and orders a Corona.  Do you want a lime with that?  Of course!  

This commonplace exchange got me thinking…  Who was the first person to put a lime in a Corona, and why?

After doing some internet research, I’m even more lost.  There are a number of theories.  The best ones:  to keep flies and bugs out, to mask the skunky flavor caused from having a clear bottle that reflects light changing the taste of the beer, and of course, some cynical bartender saying, watch me put a lime in this beer, and it go viral.

Whatever the reason, I’m sure it began as something, and then turned in to something completely different.  You just have to decide whether you like the taste of lime in your cerveza.  If you do, go for it, hombre!  

It kind of reminds me of the ritual of people packing their cigarettes before they open it.  I’m sure you’ve seen some addict doing it while walking out of a Kum And Go.  I’m pretty sure when the ritual began years ago, they were doing it to a pack of filterless cigarettes.  So yeah, actually a good idea to pack the cigarettes with your palm before you open it.  If you’ve ever smoked a Lucky or a Camel Straight, you’ll understand why it is helpful.  If you don’t pack the tobacco as much as possible, you’ll be constantly picking the tobacco off of your lips.  And that’s no fun.  But since the advent of cigarettes with a FILTER, do you really need to pack the cigarettes?  Not really.  But the ritual continues.

Another article I read about the origins of the lime in the Corona talked about how legally in the state of New York, a bartender could be FINED for touching a lime wedge with their bare hands/fingers.  Now, when was the last time you saw a bartender wearing gloves, or used a tong when grabbing a lime, and putting it in the neck of a Corona?  Like, never.  Can you imagine how time-consuming and laborious that would be?  And I don’t think anyone wants to see a bartender wearing gloves.  That would just be weird.  But again, legally in the state of New York, a bartender can’t touch a lime.  Your options are to grab the tongs and put the lime in with that, or place the lime wedge on a napkin, and present it to your guest with the beer, which is a little over the top.  I think I can speak for most when I say if you see a bartender grab the tongs, you’re gonna want to roll your eyes.  We’re not surgeons.

But of course, perhaps, psychologists.  But I don’t think they wear gloves…or use tongs.

Probably my favorite explanation for using a lime in a Corona was that some gringo thought it’d be funny to get a bunch of people to put a lime in a Corona.  But, I must admit, it looks good in that clear glass, with that white and blue label.  Then I’m sure the execs at Corona caught wind of it, and thought, this is marketing GOLD.

There’s one thing I will guarantee.  If you go down to Mexico, and you see a Mexican drinking a Corona, there’s not going to be a lime in their Corona.  It seems to be a very American thing to do, and if you ask for that lime in the Corona, everyone will know you’re a tourista.

-Clint

 

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Eating My Calories Tonight

It’s a Thursday night, 6ish, I’m serving at the hotel restaurant.  A table of four sits in my section, I approach, hand out menus, say my introductions.  Can I start you guys out with something to drink?  A brunette, mid-40’s, opens up the menu, and says, with confidence,

I’ve decided I’m going to EAT my calories tonight.

-Clint

 

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The Big Difference Between Call & Well

I’m behind the bar, it’s around 4PM, guy comes up, sits down. How ya doin’, what can I get you? He says, I’ll take a gin and tonic. Great. What kind of gin? Tanqueray, Bombay, Well? He says, what does it matter when you put a mixer in it? I’ll take the Well.

This, my friends, is a smart man.

What DOES it matter? It really doesn’t. The moment you put your cranberry, or your Diet Coke, or your tonic in it, the nuance of the liquor will be lost. Ok, I’ve heard some say, cheap booze gives me headaches, and that might absolutely be true. But there is NO WAY someone is going to tell the difference in taste between a Grey Goose Cran, and a Well Cran. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s nearly impossible. Let me break down a drink. Most drinks are 9 ounces. 1 1/2 ounces is the booze. That’s 7 1/2 ounces of mixer. The mixer will inevitably clobber any subtlety you might find in your chosen Call liquor.

I know you’re thinking, hey, Clint. Don’t you want to sell that high priced booze instead of the Hawkeye Vodka? Hell yeah, I do! The bigger the tab, usually, the bigger the tip. But facts are facts, and the guy at the bar with his gin and tonic was right.

Let’s flip things a bit, and talk about drinking booze neat, and on the rocks. Neat, for the amateurs out there, means no ice. NOW. Are you going to tell the difference between a Well whiskey like Ten High, in comparison to Maker’s Mark, when you drink it neat? I’m going to say a strong maybe. It really depends on your pallet, and your history with a specific booze. Trust me, I’ve done taste tests with seasoned drinkers, and 50/50 they choose the Well, over the Call liquor. So I’m not totally convinced EVEN when you drink the liquor neat.

Let’s be honest. We all fall prey to the psychological aspects of what is advertised to us on a daily basis. For YEARS I drank solely Tanqueray Tonic. It was the only thing I’d drink. But I’m not convinced I’d even be able to tell the difference between the “good stuff,” and the Well.

So what should you take away from all this? TRY EXPERIMENTING. That is always fun. Drink the Captain and Coke, then try the Well rum and Coke, see if you can tell the difference. ALL THAT MATTERS is you find something that suits your taste buds. Be open-minded. Mix things up.

Literally.

In the end, maybe the only thing you find different between Call and Well is the difference on your bar tab.

-Clint

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Be Bold

I’m at the hotel bar, it’s Sunday, around 10:30PM.  Earlier, the server gets cut around 8pm bc it’s so slow.  I get a couple tables here and there, nothing too crazy.  An older gentleman, classy, with his daughter, they order two Bombay martinis.

Kitchen closes at 11, I go outside to get a breath of fresh air, come back thru the kitchen, and the woman doing dishes says, you’ve got a table.  I hustle-up, get to the bar, and there’s indeed a new table.  …Of 20.

Holy shite.  I’m a bartender, not a server.  I get flustered when there’s more than four people at a table.  I actually HATE serving tables, but find myself doing it more than I care to.  I start taking their orders, as I do, another six people join the party.  Chaos.  And what majorly sucks is, these people are being UBER-picky.  10 of them order burgers, and you’d think that this would be easy, but no.  I want a burger, medium well, but I don’t want this on it, but can you put this on it, but wait, I don’t like those sides, could I get this instead?  EVERY SINGLE BURGER ORDER IS LIKE THIS.  And then, mind you, I have to remember which one goes where, bc they all look pretty much the same, but with variance.  And to top it off, everybody wants separate checks.  That’s always fun.

It was a nightmare, true and complete.  But an angel arose from the ashes.  A woman in the party quickly introduces herself, and tells me she works at the hotel.  She says, do you need some help?  YES, PLEASE.  I get to entering in everybody’s order, and the phone starts ringing.  Room service.  And with no server, guess who has to somehow figure out room service, which I haven’t been trained on?  At this point, there is NO WAY I’m getting someone’s room service order prepared, and take it up to their room, no matter what the logistics.  I answer, and say, I’m sorry.  We don’t have anyone doing room service tonight, but I can take your order, put it in a to-go, and you can pick it up at the bar.  He says, that’s fine, no problem.

While the cook is in the kitchen, casually freaking out at all the orders coming in, I hit the tables.  What can I get you?  I want a water with a lemon.  I want a coffee.  I get the coffee.  I want cream, with a lot of sugars.  I go looking for cream.  I return.  I want a Sprite.  Put some cherry juice in it (grenadine).  Can I add something to my order?  I’d like to change my order.  My wife said take this off the burger, can you put the jam back on?

Oh what true hell hath come to my life.

My angel from the ashes helps me start handing out food.  Burgers, wings, wings, wings.  I really have no idea where everything is going.  If this was just some nightmare I could wake up from, but there’s no waking.  Can I get an extra Ranch dressing for my fries?  Can I get?  Can I get?

Somehow, all the food gets out to the right people.  I get two people tell me their hamburger isn’t cooked enough.  I take the burgers back, the cook puts them back on the grill for a minute, I return them to their proper place.

Right when there’s a lull, with everyone eating, a manager from the front desk comes up, asks me if I need help.  I’m sort off stuttering at this point.  Uh..well…uh…I…have no idea whose bill is whose.  I don’t know what I’m gonna do.

He says, just be bold.  You can figure it out.

If there were only two words he said that could magically calm me, and help me get to the finish line, be bold was it.

Be bold.

I walked up to the main table, and said, all-right.  What else can I bring you right now?

-Clint