Five to nine

Have a drink.

December 17, 2004

The trade in attention

A few weeks ago I had the fortune of working behind a bar with a new face. Whenever working with a new colleague, I always err on the side of caution and over-direct the show. At some point he asked why i thought he needed so much direction, i explained to him that I was just being conservative. He told me that he was a career bartender, and all this was second nature to him. He was 50 and didn't look it, and had been keeping bar for thirty years now. Goddamn I said! He still had all his hair, and had it dyed jet black. He kept showing me a picture of how fat he used to be so that I'd be impressed at how much weight he'd lost, and telling me about all the broadway plays he'd been in.
My original skepticism about his talents and intentions returned near the end of the night, when he left me to take care of the (admittedly short) line of customers while he shamelessly flirted with a comely old matron who was drunk and very taken with his age and appearance. it occurred to me that he was not a career bartender, rather a career failure at something else. Despite his adequate mixing skills, he didn't understand one of the basic principles of bar-tending. We are not just here to serve your drinks. We are also (sometimes especially) here to trade that most valuable of our human commodities. Attention. While you're at the bar, you should feel like the bartender is looking at you, liking what he sees, and happy to be there lavishing you with attention, so that the one moment when i pick up the cocktail napkin, hug your glass with it and hand it to you with a smile, you may as well be the only person on earth cause no one else is getting this drink right now. And we do not go unrewarded for our efforts. Every time I get you your drink, for those 30-90 seconds it's gonna take me to prepare it, I have that feeling that for now, only I have the thing you want. These feelings add up, like good tips. Now, to chit chat with a bored partygoers at a slow or empty bar is one thing. Part o'the job, as they say. But to demand the attention of a specific customer while ignoring your bar is a severe dereliction of duty, and an abuse of whatever power is bestowed upon you by the booze.
The bar as a microcosm of human societies as a whole works real well here. Take a minute to think about what category of person you fall into, and appraise what your attention is worth.
Beautiful, charming young woman: It's worth your weight in gold. Wether you know it or not, your attention is what makes the whole world go round and round! The desire for your attention is what has motivated mankind to work and produce from day one. Like the song says, "This is a man's world, but it wouldn't be nothing, without a woman or a girl" or the much less eloquent, but no less right on the money mister dave chapelle "If a man could fuck a woman in a cardboard box, HE WOULDN"T BUY A HOUSE!"
beautiful young woman: Almost as valuable as the former, but only in the short run. And as we all know, solid investments require time to grow. Getting your attention is important, but keeping it, less so.
confiden't wealthy man Once upon a time, survival was not guaranteed to the masses, and you were at the very top of the list. the world is different now, and the womenfolk can provide for themselves, still we have evolved faster than our neandarthal pre-dispositions, and there's still a lot to be said for the lasses who want you to like them best of all.
Pretty woman How much longer can you keep it up? looking good like that? the uncertainty will lower your stock.
Wealthy woman: This is a tough one. They intimidate me personally, but that's just cause I'm not much of a man. They're more of a niche market.
Horny, uncouth bums Fuckers like that are a dime a dozen and everyone is sick and tired of meeting them. They don't inspire anyone to do anything of value, and they'd better have some good "game" (i.e. sexual trickery) if they want the attention of anyone who matters to anyone else.
Unattractive women: Sorry ladies, you know where I'm going with this one.

December 16, 2004

The thing about Australians is...

they're a hard drinking people. Averaging almost eight liters of ethanol per legal adult per year, they take the title for drunkest anglophones. I guess this means that when they play drinking games, they don't fuck around. Now, anyone who's known me long enough knows that I have never been a big supporter of drinking games. First of all, I take drinking very seriously (can't you tell?) and would never attempt to reduce it to a game, and secondly, I hate the implications that I need the encouragement. But I would have never imagined that a drinking game taken too far could lead to severe internal injuries.
However, Jared brought to my attention an article about australians and a power assisted drinking game gone horribly awry.

A 21-year-old Perth man is lucky to be alive after having his stomach ripped open during a beer-skolling game using a home-made device powered by an electric pump...

It is believed to have consisted of a helmet fitted with a jug from which a hose was attached to a pump that was powered by a power drill.

Another hose from the pump was placed in his mouth and the pump was switched on, pushing beer from the jug down his throat.

The man, a mechanical drafter who did not want his name published, said yesterday that about six other party-goers had used the "jug helmet" before him...

I knew something wasn't right soon after I drank from it. I started spewing up red stuff and was in a lot of pain."...

The man underwent urgent surgery to repair a 10cm tear and was then on life support for a week

The man claims he thought the device would be little different than a funneling contraption. As a mechanical drafter he should have known the differences in power between a pint of beer slamming into your throat with about five Newtons of force in the amount of time you see fit, and a 50 or so watt drill. I'm just glad to know he ended up OK.

I would like to take this opportunity to plug two of my favorite Australians, Arthur Chrenkoff and Tim Blair. These guys are very smart, positive, optimistic, and it would do my pinko friends a world of good to see another side of an issue at least once in a while.
Lord knows academia is no longer gonna help you in that department. Just like academia didnt help our mechanically oriented friend in the "don't rip your own guts apart" department.

December 15, 2004

The thing about Martinis is,

... people like the sound coming out of their mouth when they order them, a lot more than they like drinking them. I encounter this problem a lot when working behind a cocktail bar for the Jewish community. (As I have mentioned before, they wrongly call it a martini bar). First of all, there are few who order a martini to begin with. Mostly they like the lemon drops, the cosmopolitans and the sour apple cocktails. And among the few who order a proper martini, most of them sound like they're reading a line from a script. "Vodka martini, straight up with olives". I then ask thm how they like their martini, bcause they have told me nothing useful. they look confused. you can almost see the gears in their head grinding "The guy in the movies orders that all the time, and the bartender knows exactly what to do!" As you can see, i have done nothing but shake and strain drinks all night long behind this bar, this is what a drink "straight up" means. What the hell would make them think that i would start putting ice in their drink if I haven't done so all night long? Well, eventually, they will ask me what I mean when I ask them how they want it. I mean, do you like your drink sweet? Medium dry? or the dreaded "extra dry vodka martini" which really is nothing more than a cold shot of vodka ordered pompously.
Now, ordinarily, I refrain from making fun of what one would call "posers". I generally respect people's desire to present any facade they choose; and being a big phony myself, I would hate to be a hypocrite. however, on this issue, I will call out the poseurs. Not because I resent them for trying to be cool by ordering a drink in a way they think will make them look more sophisticated; but because in this case, ordering your fancy spy drink in such a way has the exact opposite of the desired effect. You see, by ordering this drink in this way, you make it immediately obvious that a) you don't really drink much and b) you're trying to make it seem like you drink more than you actually do, and by extension that you're cooler than you actually are.
My advice to you: Relax, guy. Drink something more your speed, some drink you don't have to recall from a movie. Don't worry about trying to seem cooler. Drinking, anything, will automatically make you cool*. Leave Martinis for the people who enjoy the crisp taste of neutral spirits tempered with the fragrant hug of vermouth.
And also, James Bond notwithstanding, stirring is the right thing to do to a drink of this nature. Shaking it will only "bruise" or unnecessarily water down your cocktail.

*drinking does not actually make you cool. It is actually way lame.

December 03, 2004

On what love is

This isn't the sort of blog where I take internet quizzes and paste the HTML to let my readers know more about me, but i found one that was CREEPY accurate. I don't know how the script works, but i reloaded a few times and it gave me a couple of different answers. I will paste the code to my favorite one.

bloodsport is love
brought to you by the isLove Generator

The same input (3 simple questions) also gave hosting is love, food is love and wine is love. How did it know?
Bloodsport will be a controversial one from my friends who THINK they love animals. Not for me though. I love the beasts of the earth more than you can imagine. I love them for all they can do for me, in life, in death and SOMEtimes, in the glorious transition between the two.
Though last weekend, it was in death that they helped me express my love for others in the other manners which the quiz suggests i am prone to doing. It was my birthday recently and taking advantage of all my friends who were in town for the holiday, I threw myself a little dinner party on saturday. The menu was simple. Tablewater crackers with sun-dried tomato spread, ritz crackers with sliced boiled eggs and an olive for Hors Doevures, Cream of asparagus soup, Mashed potatoes and the main course. Now, here is where it gets weird. Some of my friends are vegetarians, so I had to make some casserole crap to fill them up. They seemed to like it well enough. Now, ordinarily I don't approve of vegetarianism. If the Good Lord gave us the cunning and physiology to be at this level of the food chain, and if our society and economy are such that the corporeal luxuries are no longer fiscal luxuries, vegetarianism borders on blasphemous and unamerican! However, being a good host comes above all, so I obliged my dear guests. They were happily fed, all of them (except for Jared who got retarded drunk before the party even started). From this side of the serving table, food and hosting really are love.
But i haven't even told you about the Roast! The gentle bovine that gave his soul so that I may feed my loved ones was a fat and tender one. I marinated it in a sweet mustard pepper sauce, roasted it for a couple of hours, and sliced it thick.
As for the wine that was love, I found a good deal on century cellars cabarnet-sauvignon. It was herbaceous, and a little heavy on the sulfites, but all in all a good deal. I had the leftover wine for breakfast on my actual birthday. It went better with the roast.

Now, some tips on throwing an old fashioned, un-catered dinner party for 12 on a budget.
soup and potatoes can be made in advance with no ill effects to flavor and consistency. Roast meats can be prepared in advance and put in the oven before your guests arrive, Plan to be ready for guests an hour before you asked them to arrive. You will be glad you did. Plan for 90 minutes of cocktails before dinner, and plan for coffee and desert 90 minutes after the start of the meal e.g. Drinks at 6, dinner at 7:30, desert at 9. Also, it helps to have a beautiful hostess to help you greet and serve. It can be done alone, but then you will only enjoy the second half of the party because you will be so busy watering and feeding. I had no such companion, but fortunately, I had some very gracious guests, a bandleader and his blushing bride who took some of the load off. (If any of you gorgeous babies want to be my next hostess, I'm single ;-) six foot four and very well mannered. Other than that, I am all vice and deceit though)
As for preparing drinks at a party, well, see absolutely any other posts on this blog.

Cheers to love

UPDATE: The love generator is totally lame! It only works because there's some LJ account I have up there that I'd totally forgotten about.

December 02, 2004


Is the generic term for having alcoholic drinks. Unlike highballs and lowballs, cocktails are hard to make. They're strongly alcoholic and don't have any ice to hide behind. They're about 3-4 ounces, served WELL chilled, and meant to be finished quickly. Five or six effective sips at most. If the cocktail is too much bigger than that, it will warm up before you finish it, and that can lead to trouble. The average cocktail ratio is about 4 parts liquor to one part mixer, chilled and poured through a strainer to avoid the ice. Since BAC is a function of alcohol consumed and the time it was consumed in, these are especially effective and popular in timed situations (Happy hour, cocktails and Hors D'Oeuvres before dinner, etc.)
Much to my chagrin, there in modern ignorant bar society, these drinks are referred to as martinis. cocktail glasses as martini glasses. They are not martinis. Not apple martinis, not sapphire martinis, not lemon drop martinis. And certainly not martini glasses.
A Martini is a gin cocktail softened with vermouth. People nowadays don't really like gin or vermouth. Most people who have a 'Martini' will have a vodka martini much much too dry. Shaken not stirred. That looks nice, especially with the Olives. But it does not taste like a Martini. It's just cold vodka, watered down, that you paid way too much for.
Before I get ahead of myself, there's two different ways to cool a cocktail. James Bond has taken the effort to make them famous, I will make the effort to explain the difference. Shaking is fast and effective, and it tends to crack the ice in your shaker. The harder you shake, the more water is added to your drink. When your drink has no juice or sugar-water mixers, you want to avoid diluting the liquor and liqueur combinations with water. And James bond notwithstanding, Martinis, Manhattans, Margaritas, etc. should all be stirred then strained. never shaken.
Along with the already mentioned cocktails, some other favorites include manhattans, bourbon manhattans, rob roys, gimlets, parisians, cosmopolitans, and my personal favorite drink in the world,
the Aviation.
Look it up. It's obscure, but tasty without being gross, sweet without being sickly, and pretty without being ostentatious.