This article is Ancient (archive 2011)

Musings of a Gin-Soaked Barman

I have four rules for my bar, which are as follows:

1.No Mojitos
2.No Dirty Martinis
3.No Blender Drinks
4.No Layer drinks

It’s fairly simple, but you can scarcely imagine how offended the special snowflakes in the world get when you tell them they can’t have their special drink. I had a guy from London absolutely flip on me Sunday night because I wouldn’t make him a mojito. There’s a reason for everything, and he got a better drink because of it.

1. So why no mojitos, you ask? A lot of the time people think I don’t want to do mojitos because they’re labour intensive. This is a big time mistake, for if you look at my cocktail menu, you see that everything on it is labour intensive. This goes back to an old club job I had, where I was doing someone else’s cocktail menu. This was a fairly busy joint (ha!), and I was really cutting my teeth as a bartender. The most popular drink on the menu? A fucking coconut mojito.

How do you shittify a terrible drink even more? Gee, why not pour it with Malibu instead of some reasonable rum? I used to line up those freaking glasses 30 at a time to make that drink. I never liked them in the first place, but I had to smile and grin and shake and stir and make hundreds. They were viral. I am the last person to bitch about selling 11 dollar cocktails over and over, but that drink killed my spirit.  I don’t make mojitos anymore. When I left the wedding of the guy who wrote that cocktail menu, I stopped into a bar to get a drink, and the lady was hell bent on lecturing me about mojitos. I took it to go, dumped it in the trash, and swore I’d never make a mojito again.

2. No dirty martinis? Do you wanna know something? I don’t even keep olives on my bar. I have a certain philosophy about things. The bar should be the culinary extension of the kitchen. Always. Just like a cook, I, as a barman, am a slave to my ingredients. People tell me all the time how great my drinks are, and that’s shit. It’s dumb. I’m not doing anything but combining great ingredients. I have no “well” liquor. I don’t keep any cheap stuff. I don’t stock garbage. What I have is judiciously chosen amazing spirits that are there to help me blow your mind. I’m not doing the work, the distillers are. I know that was a grammatically incorrect sentence. The point is that I’m ‘tending in front of an amazing menu and I want to represent it well. I have really nice shit, and I’ve always felt like people order a dirty martini because they want to cover up the cheap, shitty booze they insist on drinking. The martini is one of the greatest American inventions, and I refuse to keep you from tasting it.

This reminds me:

A word on vermouth: Vermouth is part of a martini. It should be, by my guesstimates, about four to one gin to vermouth to make a martini. Vodka, I guess, if you insist. Vermouth is wine. You would not open a bottle of Cabernet and let it sit on your counter for six months then drink it. The reason you hate Vermouth is that people let it sit out in the heat for months at a time. It goes bad.

3. No blender drinks?

Alright, I’m fucking lazy. Walk to Bourbon Street.

4. No layer drinks? Well, I’m kinda up in the air about this one. I am perfectly happy to show off and make a Zombie in layer form just to watch a customer stab it with a straw. I just don’t want some jerkoff to walk in and ask me to do it. What lurks in the wings for me is that I don’t just get to make drinks, I have to do a ton of other shit all at once. I must attend to numerous other duties, and that’s what drives my rules more than anything.

The tough thing about working for a small business is that you have to give yourself over to it and do things that you wouldn’t otherwise do. The beauty of it is that you can make it your world and adjust it to your quirks. I hate mojitos, dirty martinis, making drinks in blenders, and pouring shit over a barspoon to make it layer. It reminds me of the scene from Blue Velvet:

Heineken? Heineken? Fuck that pussy shit! Pabst Blue Ribbon!”

I probably misquoted, but we all must remember things as we can. Life is gin-soaked, right? Or, my life….

By Scotty