Five to nine

Have a drink.

September 07, 2004

The thing about Afrikaaners is,

...they got used to some pretty messed-up stuff back in the Motherland. And tending bar for them is an experience I would not trade for all the shares of the Dutch East India company in the world. There's a small bastion of expatriate south african jews in orange county. They throw nice parties for each other, and sometimes they summon me to tend their cocktail bars. They share a few easily recognizable traits. They dress well, they are willing to travel far for Mitzvahs, they have impeccable if slightly paternalistic manners, and there never fails to be one among them whose breeding deviates considerably from the norm. They are always in the slightest of minorities, and they all deviate in exactly the same way.
Yesterday, an especially nasty Boer, baited me into doing something I had never done before, will never do again, and am really glad I did once.
Here is how it went. After a long and tedious order by an older woman, the kind who'se lived 85% of her life on the sweet side of apartheid, a kindly older gentleman asks me if I can make a margarita. I explain to him that this bar has only neutral spirits, and I cannot oblige. The ol' woman interjects,
"You can't ask them like that, tell him what you want and let him worry about making it.
Tense pause as all the other Americanized guests feel a little awkward, having overheard the wench. Think fast, diffuse, make it okay, say something that makes everyone feel good about standing around at your bar feeling weird.
ME: I'm sorry then, sir, I'm afraid I have no choice but to disappoint you.
HE: That's fine, young man, [Jane], did you hear what he had to say
SHE: You can't take that kind of insolence from them or else they'll get used to it.
and then, as if to prove a point, and cutting in front of all the people waiting patiently,
SHE: You can make me another apple martini.

Now, There's different ways to make them candy cocktails. Vodka, appropriate schnapps, then some amount of whatever filler you may or may not want to use. If you use store bought sour mix, it adds a little more sugar to the mixture, which means you can add more vodka, which means it is stronger, and sweeter. But this cheap sour mix has an unfortunate side effect, when shaken violently, it makes the drink opaque instead of translucent, and on top of that, it makes a little bit of foam at the surface of your cocktail glass. Foam I used to hide the mouthful of barkeep she got for her manners. Before you feel to bad for her, this is the kind of woman who bought the Johannesburg Deluxe 7 series BMW. The one with the flame-thrower option available only in South Africa, to ward off would-be car-jackers. Before you applaud me for my heinous act, a little sympathy for her too. All her life, the people at her service were also under her heel. Some set of circumstances made it easy for this woman to grow up like this. It's hard to judge her. But it was real easy to size her up, and reeeeeeeeeeal easy to spit in her drink.


At September 10, 2004 at 12:18 PM, Blogger citizen sunshine said...

wow. eric, that was an absurdly well-told story. and what a fucking punchline! by the time i got to the end, i was about ready for you to drop a vial of Arsenic in there. nice touch with the sympathy for all (wo)Mankind there.

i have to wonder, though, how many mexicans the bold strumpet actually encountered in the Motherland. i mean, how did you get inducted into the ranks of Them? or is anyone non-Afrikaaner Them? or anyone non-White? what about indians? very strange stuff, this Them. if you want to excuse her on the basis of having grown up 85% of her life a certain way, then it seems kind of odd for that way to be extended so rudely to an ethnicity she'd barely have encountered during those ostensibly formative years. me, i might have just put the old bat out of her misery. then again, i have the benefit of a membership in the Us realm of her world. or do i?

oh yeah. what the fuck is a "neutral spirit," and how does an exclusivity of those foreclose a margarita?

At September 11, 2004 at 3:06 PM, Blogger barkeep said...

I don't think she has much experience with Mexicans per se, Just us at her service in general.
Under American liquor law "neutral spirits" are defined as anything distilled from a 190 or higher proof mixture. Most notably in our caibnets as vodka, flavored vodka, or the very first flavored vodka:gin. Making a margarita would have required tequila.


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