Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The New York Cocktail Idiocracy Strikes Again

A very kind friend invited me out to dinner the other night. The place was 44th and 10th, a swank joint in midtown Manhattan. I asked if they made good cocktails. He said yes, definitely, they made great cocktails. He told me he'd be a bit late, but to go ahead and order a cocktail while I wait.

I asked the waiter, a very friendly young man, "Is your bartender skilled? Does he know how to make many cocktails?" I was told yes, very skilled. I asked if he could make a Sazerac—always my test of a talented, knowledgeable bartender. No, he can't, I was told, mainly because the bar isn't equipped with Peychaud's bitters or Herbsaint. OK. I guess I was in a mood to mess with the waiter after that, because I asked for a Monkey's Gland, a cocktail from a century ago with gin, orange juice and grenadine. Of course, the bartender didn't know how to make this either.

So, I gave up and resorted to a Manhattan. But with rye, I specified. The waiter came back. They had run out of rye. Sigh. OK, a Gibson then, with Bombay. Finally, that they could make.

Now, I ask you, are bartenders required to be anything else but good-looking anymore?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Do none of these places at least have a bartender's book behind the bar? I mean, I wouldn't necessarily expect a bartender at a non-cocktailian place to know the Monkey's Gland, but most bartenders could at least assemble one with a decent bar manual, as they most likely already have all the ingredients.

I don't mind if a bartender doesn't know a particular drink -- except for the canonical drinks like the Sazerac, Manhattan, &c -- because I can usually talk them through it. It's a far worse sin, in my mind, to confidently proclaim that you can make any drink, and then give me an Old-Fashioned heavy on the fruit salad and soda.