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Barfly Chronicles…

I have a problem ordering mixed drinks or cocktails from bars these days,
not because I don’t know what to order, but because the bartenders don’t
know how to make the drinks I ask for.  For example, they make a great
cocktail in New Orleans called the Sazerac.  Unfortunately, that is
the only place you can find it, as we have asked for it in countless numbers
of bars, only to be greeted with either a blank stare or a
snotty-yuppie-bartender crack like, “sounds like something they’d drink in
upstate New York.” (actual quote from a bartender at Zuni in San Francisco).

Historians believe that the Sazerac was the world’s first cocktail, and all
it is is basically rye whiskey, bitters and Herbsaint (or Pernod, an acceptable
substitute).  Not too difficult to make if you have a Bartender’s Guide
behind the bar, which I’m guessing most bars do not.  We have a couple
of cocktail books at home.  What is the point of all of these wonderful
drinks if you can’t ask for one of them when you go out?  The bartenders’
response is always “I’ve never heard of that” and that’s where the discussion
ends… and where my confusion begins.  You would think that if
your job of choice was that of bartender, then you would be a tad interested
in the actual art of mixing drinks.  I mean, wouldn’t you at least know
the recipes for more than ten cocktails?  Is a request for an Old Fashioned
or a Whiskey Sour too much for these people to process?

Bartenders in San Francisco seem to only be adept at making gin AND tonics,
rum AND cokes, something ON THE ROCKS or something STRAIGHT UP.  Oh,
and a few other, “more challenging” drinks like the Martini, the Cosmopolitan,
and the Manhattan.  Some people may think that this is enough, but what
of all the other 250 cocktail recipes in my copy of Michael Jackson’s Bar
& Cocktail Companion
?  I’m thinking that the reason that the
new generation of 22-year-old bartenders can’t make any classic cocktails
is because none of the young high society ingenues have ever heard of them
either.  They’re all too busy drinking monstrous blue lemonade-tasting
drinks or drinking Amstel Light from the bottle.  And when they do order
a simple drink like a Martini, they spend the next two hours carrying it
around from clique to clique, taking a sip once every 20 minutes.

I may soon have to admit the fact that cocktail culture is dead.  

Posted in The Barfly Chronicles.

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