There are a handful of “bro drinks” out there that, when ordered, instantly make me either cringe. The Long Island Iced Tea, frequently referred to as an L-I-T, is near the top of that short list. I haven’t had one since I was maybe 24 (nearly 20 years ago). There’s a good reason: It’s nasty, ghetto, bro‘ish, lacks sophistication, and is generally not a treat for the palate. Furthermore, it’s deceptively far too high in alcohol content to let you enjoy one after the other without (a) upchucking your lunch in colossal fashion or (b) funnin’ the ass of the cute young stranger directly to your left without permission.
Young lady walks into busy bar and sits down at an empty stool.
Proceeds to look only down at iPhone.
Bartender finishes with previous customers, rolls up to her, and spouts his usual:
[Me] Hi there. What can I get for you?
[Chick] I’ll take a Corona – with lime. And oh… can I see a menu?
I live and work in New York City – the epicenter of uber-Liberal extremism as well as what’s likely the biggest melange of races and ethnicities the world has ever seen. I reckon it’s the first place a vast majority of Bible-Belt Southerners envision if asked about those damned Yankees trying to impose their will. I absolutely loathe extremists of any kind. The Westboro Baptist Church, N.A.M.B.L.A., the N.R.A., The Brady Center, various white supremacist organizations, their corresponding violent and separatist black power organizations, militant Islamic Jihadists all come to mind first. I preach and practice M.Y.O.B. and “live and let live,” so long as you don’t infringe on my rights.
Know what these are? They’re Store-n-Pour tops and they’re disgustingly dirty. This particular photograph is from a bar I worked at many years ago. Store-n-Pours are plastic containers juice containers that can be found at practically every bar on the planet. The idea is that you can “pour” when they’re in use, and you can “store” unused juices by swapping the spout for a plastic screw-on lid at the end of the evening. Outside of juices provisioned to come out of the WunderBar (soda gun), there is no more efficient access to commonly used juices, mixes, and other liquid preparations in a commercial bar environment.
How many times have you seen this lovely picture? Bartenders are notorious for this practice. We like to keep our personal sodas cold, our energy bars fresh, and our ice scoops on the ready. What you’re witnessing above is drinking ice contaminated with objects which have zero business being stored as such. The major rub (aside from the obvious health issues)? The Health Department smackdown.
I’ll state it outright: I have instant disdain, deservedly or not, for Vodka Soda drinkers. They’re the scourge of bars everywhere – a festering scab that refuses to heal. They represent to me the epitome of mainstream. They’re Camry drivers and undergrads destined for cubicle life and 2.5 kids. They’ll eventually own a Chocolate Lab, and a vinyl-clad, attached, townhouse in Nyack. Heaven help them – please. Barf me out. No concoction at a bar screams boring, self-righteous, terrified to try something different, and “I’ve got an Eating Disorder,” louder than ye Olde Vodka-Club. Now that I’ve fully gotten my hate on properly, let’s look at some of the “facts” behind the cocktail equivilent of Rice Cakes.
To hell with Point of Sale systems. I have a message for Micros, Aloha, Squirrel and the like – F.O.A.D. (brush up on your Urban Dictionary fu if you’re confused). P.O.S. systems are ubiquitous in just about every town, and in every genre of bar and restaurant these days. 20 years ago? Not so much. WTF happened? There are two main reasons for the proliferation of computerized terminals: (a) the age of micromanagement – control-freak owners wanting as many metrics about their operations as possible and (b) The Man – big government. It’s far easier and for the
legal mafia I.R.S. to ensure that they get their vig fair share of tax revenue.
Bartending seems pretty cool, doesn’t it? You’re sitting on your couch 4:30am, after a long night of partying, inhaling Cheetos, toking a bong, and wishing you hadn’t sucked down those last two shots of Jager. The TV is glaring and - wouldn’t you know – Tom Cruise is spinning bottles, without spilling a drop of precious booze – go figure. “Cocktail” is on again. You’re captivated by this ultimate display of Flair and enthralled with the “the good life” bartending can offer… a playboy lifestyle on a Caribbean island, and endless string of doting groupies – ready to rip of your clothes, travel, fast cars, easy drugs, blaa, blaa, blaa.
You want to be a bartender above all else. Screw the post-graduate work, your parents ambitions for you, law school, or whatever. You’ve got your eyes set on getting behind the stick. I mean, how hard could it be? Any monkey can pour drinks, right? Let’s find out…
I’m unique in appearance. You can’t really make out what I really am. My entire life, I’ve managed to both fit in to every imaginable group, as well as feel excluded from those same groups from time to time. Usually, I can deftly move into just about any group (outside of Neo-Nazis) with aplomb. I can shape-shift my appearance, swagger, tone, lexicon and dress to fit just about any environment. I’m agile like that. Well, in my latest bartending gig, you can reasonably assume I’m making full use of my God-given talents, and fully leveraging my Thug Dizzle. That’s because, I’m once again living the
Thug Life Pub Life.
“The grass is always greener…” “Better the devil you know…” We’ve all heard those well-worn phrases thousands of times, right? People are funny. No matter how exceedingly spectacular your situation (e.g., David Beckham, Kanye, Sir Paul McCartney, Bill Gates, etc.) we always want mo’ better something. Humans have an insatiable desire for faster, stronger, wealthier, better-endowed, younger, or whatever. The bartender life is no different. I did two (count them) four-year stints in a particular venue where I was basically: The Man. Among a large bar staff, I could demand outright, any shift, had my choice of pretty much any uh… womenses, and made beaucoup duckets on the regular. The earnings at that particular gig, while not rivaling strip club bartending money, were significant and steady – bankable. That job allowed me to save enough fat stacks to buy a private house, and bang out two money-sucking black holes of darkness (read: kids), in one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world -New York City.
So why the hell would I actively choose to pack my bags and walk off the job with nary a promise of another bartending gig lined up? The answer is not so simple.