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Old 09-15-2019, 12:32 AM
Anny Middon is offline
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What kind of bartender can't mix a martini?


So we stopped for dinner at a Red Lobster tonight. I ordered my usual cocktail -- martini, Bombay Sapphire, straight up, with olives.

It seemed to take quite a while to get my drink. Our table was in the bar area, so I know the bartender wasn't very busy. When our server sets it on the table, it's in a martini glass, has olives, but is brown -- the color of a pretty strong whiskey-and-water.

This is not a martini, I tell the server. Off she goes to consult with the bartender. "Yes, it's a martini," she tells me. "That's the vermouth."

"It's supposed to be dry vermouth, which is colorless," I tell her. "He must have used sweet vermouth." I didn't want to complicate the issue by explaining that he must have used as much vermouth as gin to get that color.

Some more discussion between server and bartender which I can't really hear. When she comes back, the glass is about a third full of colorless liquid. I taste it, and am a bit surprised that it is indeed Bombay Sapphire. I am less surprised by the fact that it's room temperature.

I know that martini aficionados can be pretty picky. We can discuss at great length the proper proportion of vermouth to gin, from "just pass the vermouth cork across the glass" to the full 1/6th as much vermouth as gin -- but we all agree that it's dry vermouth (and substantially less in volume than the gin). We can strongly aver that the drink should be "shaken, not stirred" or vice versa -- but we all agree that a martini should be chilled.

A martini is one of the most straightforward and iconic cocktails there is. What the hell kind of bartender can't make one?
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Old 09-15-2019, 12:39 AM
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A dumb one. I made Martinis for my Daddy when I was 10yo. If you get the ratio/mix right it's very easy to make.
And yes it should be chilled, not frozen.

Last edited by Beckdawrek; 09-15-2019 at 12:41 AM.
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Old 09-15-2019, 01:34 AM
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An idiot. It should be a requirement. I haven't drank in 6 years and haven't had one in 8 and I still remember.

How can someone not know? You can watch assorted movies and learn it.

Not playing Devil's advocate with the moron but some really low rent shitty dry vermouth actually does have a yellow hue to it... like dirty brake fluid or pee. But FFS just read the bottle!

It is not as if being a bartender is rocket surgery. :-)

EDIT: Just reread the above and realized this foolery took place at Red Slobster, that explains it, actually.

Last edited by anomalous1; 09-15-2019 at 01:37 AM. Reason: stuff
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Old 09-15-2019, 02:29 AM
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I think what confuses many young bartenders is the suffux "--tini."

In a world where we have appletinis, crantinis, and chocolatinis, together with their necessary mixes which are not necessarily dry vermouth; I'm not surprised that a bartender would be confused by a classic martini. "You want just gin and dry vermouth; you don't want cranberry juice or creme de cacao or ....?"

Even worse, are the places that equate "martini" with vodka. Years ago, I ordered a Bombay Sapphire martini in a place that should have known better. The young lady waitress returned to the table and said, "I'm sorry sir; the barman says that we don't have any vodka called 'Bombay Sapphire'."
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Old 09-15-2019, 06:29 AM
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I had an airport bartender put sour mix in a Manhattan.
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Old 09-15-2019, 06:55 AM
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I ordered a martini in a fairly upscale restaurant in Goi‚nia, Brazil, and it arrived at the table half-and-half vermouth to gin, at room temperature, in a glass that was warm to the touch. I politely requested that it be chilled (relayed through my wife, to ensure no language-barrier misunderstanding) and it was redelivered with ice cubes floating in it. I didn't order martinis in Brazil after that.
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Old 09-15-2019, 07:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Anny Middon View Post
So we stopped for dinner at a Red Lobster tonight
I'ma stop you right there and say the answer to your question is "The kind of bartender who works at Red Lobster."
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Old 09-15-2019, 08:21 AM
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I've never had a martini in my life (not much of a drinker, hate gin, prefer beer or whiskies), and never mixed a drink. But I could make a better one than at least one bartender out there. Wow.

Seriously, it's so easy and straight-forward that it's something a person of ordinary intelligence has picked up just through osmosis (from movies and TV, and being around people).

Okay, I'll try it off the cuff. I know that you put gin or vodka in a shaker with a little dry vermouth, shake or stir it with ice (shake it for Mr. Bond), and strain it into a glass. A martini glass... with an olive and/or pearl onion for garnish. A dry martini would have less vermouth, a dirty martini would have some of the juice from the olive jar.

But if I was even applying for a bartender job, I'd be studying the 50 most-ordered drinks. If I got the job, and started Monday, I'd memorize the top 100 and be practicing on my friends all weekend. And what kind of place hires someone and gives them zero training?

Red Lobster, I guess...
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Old 09-15-2019, 08:34 AM
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How many bartenders are actual bartenders? I would guess 99% of "bartending" at Red Lobster is serving beer or wine.

At my local bars, I don't think I would ever ask them to make a drink with more than 2 ingredients, at least not after the Gimlet (2 ingredients, 3 if fancy) with 7-Up.
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Old 09-15-2019, 09:18 AM
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How many bartenders are actual bartenders? I would guess 99% of "bartending" at Red Lobster is serving beer or wine.

At my local bars, I don't think I would ever ask them to make a drink with more than 2 ingredients, at least not after the Gimlet (2 ingredients, 3 if fancy) with 7-Up.
Still, in 2019 I would expect someone to be able to look it up.
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Old 09-15-2019, 09:37 AM
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I ordered a martini in a fairly upscale restaurant in Goi‚nia, Brazil, and it arrived at the table half-and-half vermouth to gin, at room temperature, in a glass that was warm to the touch. I politely requested that it be chilled (relayed through my wife, to ensure no language-barrier misunderstanding) and it was redelivered with ice cubes floating in it. I didn't order martinis in Brazil after that.
Similar: ordering a vodka and tonic at a hotel on Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe, and being served a glass of vodka and a glass of tonic.
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Old 09-15-2019, 10:07 AM
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Still, in 2019 I would expect someone to be able to look it up.
Even decades ago, there were books with drink recipes one could refer to. Today, one could use the internet, perhaps even look at a video demonstration.
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Old 09-15-2019, 10:18 AM
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You should have seen what my son got when he ordered a Manhattan in a Chinese restaurant.

It had a full bar, and presumably access to the internet, but no.
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Old 09-15-2019, 11:40 AM
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A few years ago I was at the Hakkasan club in Las Vegas. They charge $26(!) for my when I was still drinking favorite drink- a dry, dirty Sapphire martini. I'd have been upset if they couldn't do it for that price, but no, they did it exactly right. Even gave me the shaker with the extra gin to top myself off. I still remember sipping on that one in that crazy club, a prelude to what turned out to be quite a night.

You got totally hosed, OP. You deserve better. This is just a reminder that the art of the martini is not lost in the world.
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Old 09-15-2019, 12:23 PM
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How many bartenders are actual bartenders? I would guess 99% of "bartending" at Red Lobster is serving beer or wine.
Maybe. But they have a menu on each table that includes a variety of cocktails, most way more complex than a martini. I'd never order a Strawberry Mojito or Tropical Treasure, but Red Lobster touts them.

Interestingly, that menu has a section of martinis, which of course includes the classic one. It even has a picture of a basic martini.
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Old 09-15-2019, 12:30 PM
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A few years ago I was at the Hakkasan club in Las Vegas. They charge $26(!) for my when I was still drinking favorite drink- a dry, dirty Sapphire martini. I'd have been upset if they couldn't do it for that price, but no, they did it exactly right. Even gave me the shaker with the extra gin to top myself off. I still remember sipping on that one in that crazy club, a prelude to what turned out to be quite a night.

You got totally hosed, OP. You deserve better. This is just a reminder that the art of the martini is not lost in the world.
One of my favorite local restaurants charges (I think) $14 for a Bombay Sapphire martini. If you like bleu cheese olives as I do, they stuff them on site. The martini glass is about 1/3 full of a well-mixed cocktail, and comes with a "side car" -- an ice-filled brandy snifter which holds a carafe with the rest of the drink. So after you've sipped the glass empty you replenish it with cold martini.

It's not an everyday indulgence, but man, that's one good martini.
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Old 09-15-2019, 12:32 PM
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No bartender will ever make it happen the way Cruise did.
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Old 09-15-2019, 12:48 PM
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I remember reading a criticism of that movie (Cocktail, starring Tom Cruise and Bryan Brown) when it came out. Someone pointed out that bartending is a volume business and no bartender is going to spend so much time on showmanship and acrobatics, since it would slow them down, reducing the number of tips.
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Old 09-15-2019, 01:25 PM
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Not to mention breaking shit.
Steve Martin should've tried an incompetent bartender character.
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Old 09-15-2019, 01:47 PM
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Red Lobster ? Its a kid working in a place that probably has a section in the drink menu labelled 'martinis' - sweet colourful beverages in cool little conical glasses that never contain gin.

I like martinis, but here in Alberta I am hard pressed to think of anyone I know who drinks them besides me. They are much more of an American thing, and good on you. I see specials for 'martinis' but they are almost never for actual Martinis. That being said mixology seems to be popular with the young beardlings. I have had several young bartender that were eager to mix one up and discuss preferences.
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Old 09-15-2019, 03:40 PM
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You wave a bottle of gin in the general direction of Italy.
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Old 09-15-2019, 03:46 PM
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Expecting a good mixed drink at a Red Lobster is not really reasonable. It would be like expecting a good and properly cooked steak at a chain restaurant.
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Old 09-15-2019, 03:48 PM
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I learned many years ago never to order a martini unless I am in New York, Chicago, or San Francisco.

I had regularly had awful martinis — to the point of having to send them back — in cosmopolitan centers like Miami, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Boston, and so on. It’s only in NYC, Chi, or Frisco that barkeeps get them right on the first try.

And NEVER ask for one outside the U.S. You should be drinking the local concoctions anyway.
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Old 09-15-2019, 04:07 PM
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Too funny, since I used to work at a Red Lobster in college. Yeah, 90% of the bar business was beer or wine or else one of the frozen drinks. Almost no cocktails. The regular bartender was basically working there so she could hook up with all the college guys (and some of the gals) They didn’t do much in tips except on some Friday/Saturday nights. I’m sure she could probably do a martini although I never saw one when I worked there. Most of the cocktails ordered were more like jack and coke.
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Old 09-15-2019, 04:11 PM
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Hell, even Koreans could make a martini, with a little help from Hawkeye.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mq0IChJXJ14
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Old 09-15-2019, 04:14 PM
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I remember reading a criticism of that movie (Cocktail, starring Tom Cruise and Bryan Brown) when it came out. Someone pointed out that bartending is a volume business and no bartender is going to spend so much time on showmanship and acrobatics, since it would slow them down, reducing the number of tips.
Never seen it. But I've had plenty of slowly-made drinks. Just charge $20 for that Ramos gin fizz and pay your 'tenders well and the economics can work out.
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Old 09-15-2019, 04:29 PM
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Even decades ago, there were books with drink recipes one could refer to. Today, one could use the internet, perhaps even look at a video demonstration.
Cool book! I have a small collection of old cocktail "recipe" books. I like the history of it and the ties to the Prohibition Era.

Does anyone know why a Blind Pig was called that? Was it a comment on the quality of the hooch?
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Old 09-15-2019, 04:30 PM
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How many bartenders are actual bartenders? I would guess 99% of "bartending" at Red Lobster is serving beer or wine.



At my local bars, I don't think I would ever ask them to make a drink with more than 2 ingredients, at least not after the Gimlet (2 ingredients, 3 if fancy) with 7-Up.
Hah! Around here, you have to specify GIN gimlet or else you'll get a vodka gimlet. Despite the fact that a gimlet is by definition made of gin.
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Old 09-15-2019, 04:44 PM
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I spent a Summer doing asphalt maintenance in Angel's Camp, CA and stopped at a local bar with the crew one afternoon after finishing. I'd just recently turned 21 so this was still fairly novel to me. I wasn't much of a drinker (yet) but I'd been served a Long Island Iced Tea before so I knew I liked them and ordered one. "NO ICED TEA THIS IS A BAR!!" was the response literally shouted at me by the grizzled lady behind the bar. We left. Granted, it was the bartender's attitude more than her ignorance that made that decision for us.
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Old 09-15-2019, 06:16 PM
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But if I was even applying for a bartender job, I'd be studying the 50 most-ordered drinks. If I got the job, and started Monday, I'd memorize the top 100 and be practicing on my friends all weekend. And what kind of place hires someone and gives them zero training?
If you memorized 100 drinks, you'd be the most experienced bar tender I've ever known.
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Old 09-15-2019, 07:07 PM
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I'ma stop you right there and say the answer to your question is "The kind of bartender who works at Red Lobster."
Beat me to it.
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Originally Posted by What Exit/
Expecting a good mixed drink at a Red Lobster is not really reasonable. It would be like expecting a good and properly cooked steak at a chain restaurant.
You can get excellent steaks at medium price to upscale chain restaurants (example of the former - Longhorn restaurants).

Not to beat up on Red Lobster too much (but why not?), any place that routinely prepares seafood in semi-non-palatable fashion can't be trusted to do anything right.

Last edited by Jackmannii; 09-15-2019 at 07:11 PM.
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Old 09-15-2019, 08:51 PM
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Not to beat up on Red Lobster too much (but why not?), any place that routinely prepares seafood in semi-non-palatable fashion can't be trusted to do anything right.
Except those cheddar bay biscuits, those are awesome.
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Old 09-15-2019, 10:19 PM
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What kind of bartender can't mix a martini?
Didja ever order a martini in England?

Some years ago I did, and they had to (after being instructed by me) order out for the olive.
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Old Yesterday, 01:47 PM
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I’m a little surprised by that. London had a cocktail culture in place as soon as the 1920s. Lord Peter Wimsey loved his dry martinis.

Ordering a martini almost anywhere on the continent, though, will fetch you a glass of Martini & Rossi brand vermouth. (Which I admit makes a fine aperitif, in a tall slender glass with an ice cube or two. The white dry and the red sweet — not all that sweet — are equally good.)
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Old Yesterday, 01:53 PM
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In England outside of London, best to just ask for a Large Gin.
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Old Yesterday, 02:02 PM
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Went to an upscale burger chain that features a full bar. Asked the waitress for a rum and coke.

She said, "What is that?"

I said, "I don't know how to explain it more clearly."
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Old Yesterday, 03:00 PM
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most of the bartenders around here look confused if you want anything more than a screwdriver or a gin and tonic or whiskey and coke.......


ive had a few ask me "do you know how to make it ? " when i wanted something somewhat complicated ....
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Old Yesterday, 03:19 PM
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most of the bartenders around here look confused if you want anything more than a screwdriver or a gin and tonic or whiskey and coke.......


ive had a few ask me "do you know how to make it ? " when i wanted something somewhat complicated ....
I'd much prefer that! I could get a drink just the way I want it.

Look, free life lesson: if you're new and out of your depth, ask for help.

But if an inexperienced bartender asked me, I'd take the chance to make a new, custom version... "Okay, in that case I want a Digs Old Fashioned. First, you're going to get out your mortar and pestle, and crush up a sugar cube, a Luxardo or maybe even a Door County cherry, and a kumquat. Kumquat. Just go down the the market, they have 'em. And while you're there... oh, don't worry, I'll wait, I wouldn't miss out on this."
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Old Yesterday, 03:20 PM
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I ordered a Jack and Coke in a Spanish bar near a US military base, and received scotch and Coke. Now, I watched her pour it out of the Jack Daniels bottle, so it wasn't just a mistake; they had filled the Jack bottle from a bottle of cheap scotch. When I complained, I heard her tell another bar gal "I told you!". I laughed, which is when they realized that I understood the language.

Also, I've received a vodka martini right here in the states, at a reputable bar, after ordering a Beefeater martini. To the best of my knowledge, Beefeater doesn't make vodka.
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Old Yesterday, 03:40 PM
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Red Lobster ? Its a kid working in a place that probably has a section in the drink menu labelled 'martinis' - sweet colourful beverages in cool little conical glasses that never contain gin.

I like martinis, but here in Alberta I am hard pressed to think of anyone I know who drinks them besides me....
I do. Never really had a problem ordering them, though you have to be careful where you order them--upscale places such as the bars at the Fairmont properties in Alberta, restaurants like Ruth's Chris and Hy's, and even places like The Keg and Earl's, generally have no problem making a fine martini. But I doubt very much that your average sports bar or popular chain restaurant (Boston Pizza, Montana's, Swiss Chalet, and yes, Red Lobster) would have any idea what to do.

Interestingly, after a recent change of ownership, the local sports bar where I spend a lot of time, has introduced a list of fancy cocktails. When I asked my Friendly Neighbourhood Barman (who, to date, has been challenged by nothing more difficult than a Bloody Caesar) what he'd do if anybody ordered one, he said, "I'd have to look up the recipe. I'd try my best, but I wouldn't guarantee anythng."
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Old Yesterday, 04:02 PM
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I've only had like one martini in my life but my husband is an aficionado. He's had bad ones in all kinds of places.

But the worst is when he orders a martini and the server says, "A gin martini? Or vodka?"

I think this gives him the same reaction as I have, when a server asks me what kind of cheese I want on my hamburger. I don't want cheese on my hamburger. You have on your menu a thing called a "cheeseburger." That is what you call a hamburger with cheese, no? If I wanted cheese on my hamburger I would have ordered a cheeseburger.

The worst, though...we ate at an Indian restaurant that was otherwise really great. But his martini was green, and apparently tasted like Scope. And may have been? And I had ordered a gin and tonic, and they brought me a shot glass with what might have been gin, and a bottle of tonic water. Oh, no lime, either. I'm not sure that place had an actual bartender.
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Old Yesterday, 05:17 PM
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Went to an upscale burger chain that features a full bar. Asked the waitress for a rum and coke.

She said, "What is that?"

I said, "I don't know how to explain it more clearly."
Did she come back with a shot glass and a little baggie of white powder?
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Old Yesterday, 06:05 PM
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Did she come back with a shot glass and a little baggie of white powder?
No, but fifteen minutes later, when I asked her where my drink was, she said, "The bartender is working on it right now!"

Our seats were facing the bar. There was nobody behind it.
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Old Yesterday, 06:32 PM
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Our seats were facing the bar. There was nobody behind it.
That's because he was out back freshly milking the rum.
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Old Yesterday, 06:35 PM
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That's because he was out back freshly milking the rum.
Oh man, they have them rum goats? They're hard to get.
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Old Yesterday, 07:58 PM
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Our seats were facing the bar. There was nobody behind it.
Well, silly, you just couldn't see the bartender because he was squatting down behind the bar. Seriously, what bars do you go to where they stand up to milk the rum goats?

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Old Yesterday, 08:52 PM
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There are a lot of sub-par bartenders out there. My wife and I were at an upscale steak place here in Dallas (Al Biernat's, if you're curious), and she ordered a daiquiri. Simple enough- white rum, lime juice, sugar, right? She got some kind of artificially flavored strawberry daiquiri. I ended up explaining to the bartender how to make one. Honestly, I expected more from a place where most entrees are in the 40-70 dollar range, with some excursions into the triple digits for Wagyu and tomahawk steaks.

And she's had to explain to bartenders at plenty of places that she wants gin in her martini, as if that's the non-standard version or something.

Occasionally, we run across the good ones- the guys at Macellaio in Dallas were awesome, as was the bartender at Bullion in Dallas. They correctly and competently fielded drink orders that were actually unusual, and were intrigued enough to come chat. THAT's a good bartender, not some chump who slings light beer 99% of the time.

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Old Today, 01:07 AM
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I'm empathetic to the OP.

It's even worse with an Old Fashioned. The recipe appears in every bartender book but half the country either never heard of it or can't make a decent one worth a damn. Outside of Wisconsin if I order one there is a 50% chance I'll get the deer in headlights look.

Or they'll know what it is but use the wrong booze, or worse.......MIX! Sacrilege!
  #49  
Old Today, 07:30 AM
Athena is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Librarian View Post
Still, in 2019 I would expect someone to be able to look it up.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewey Finn View Post
Even decades ago, there were books with drink recipes one could refer to. Today, one could use the internet, perhaps even look at a video demonstration.
Yes, but mixing a drink is more than looking up a recipe. There's technique involved, especially with seemingly-simple drinks like Martinis.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pkbites View Post
It's even worse with an Old Fashioned. The recipe appears in every bartender book but half the country either never heard of it or can't make a decent one worth a damn. Outside of Wisconsin if I order one there is a 50% chance I'll get the deer in headlights look.

Or they'll know what it is but use the wrong booze, or worse.......MIX! Sacrilege!
Seriously? Old Fashioneds are the Hip Drink nowadays, they're everywhere. That's not to say they're done well everywhere, but I can't remember the last time I was at a bar that didn't have some form of Old Fashioned. Heck, I stayed at a Marriott Courtyard during a work trip last week, and their little "bistro" thing (a mini restaurant/bar in the lobby) had Old Fashioneds. They were horrible, but they had them.

My biggest beef with Old Fashioneds nowadays is the hip bartenders who scorn at the muddled fruit version, and try to school me on "these are the REAL Old Fashioneds." Dude, I've been drinking them since before you were born. The muddled fruit version has been around & popular for 50+ years. Yes, the other version is good as well, but this isn't a zero-sum game and a muddled OF can be a wonderful thing if made correctly.

Back to the OP: if you're ordering drinks at a place like Red Lobster, best to stick to the sickly-sweet drinks on the menu, beer, wine, or (at most) and "and" cocktail: Gin and Tonic. Whiskey and Coke. Bourbon and Gingers. Anyone can make those drinks.
  #50  
Old Today, 08:33 AM
pulykamell is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pkbites View Post
I'm empathetic to the OP.

It's even worse with an Old Fashioned. The recipe appears in every bartender book but half the country either never heard of it or can't make a decent one worth a damn. Outside of Wisconsin if I order one there is a 50% chance I'll get the deer in headlights look.

Or they'll know what it is but use the wrong booze, or worse.......MIX! Sacrilege!
The Wisconsin Old Fashioned, though, is a little bit of a different drink than everywhere else in the States.

Last edited by pulykamell; Today at 08:35 AM.
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