Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A couple of interesting articles- and some opinions

Twitter has become a sewer, but I occasionally still pop in to see the carnage- and to my surprise I still occasionally find interesting things there amongst the debris of our increasingly impolite society.

I recently found two articles of interest, the first is “A Love Letter to Drinking in Bars” by Andrew O’Hagan in the New York Times Style Magazine.  It is a personal tale, but one many of us can relate to.  I really enjoyed it, you may, too.

The second is “The Rules Everyone Should Follow at Cocktail Bars” from Vine Pair, based on Sasha Petraske’s rules for his Milk & Honey and later bars.  I think these are a pretty solid set of rules for many bars.  I know that some places have a very different vibe, but even in dive bars the spirit of these rules applies if some of the details don’t.

I would like to dwell on rule #5 for a bit:

“Gentlemen will not introduce themselves to ladies. Ladies, feel free to start a conversation or ask the bartender to introduce you. If a man you don’t know speaks to you, please lift your chin slightly and ignore him.”

I tend to agree, but I think that’s a bit something-ist.  I get it, the problems normally flow in that direction, but the world isn’t that simple.  I’d go with a “respect everyone’s privacy” statement, but we’re not all good at seeing cues, especially after a few drinks.

Imagine you’ve just spotted your soulmate sitting down from you at the bar and your life will forever be incomplete without them in it- how do you make contact?  I hate to break it to you, but maybe you don’t.

If you are in a decent place (and yes, this includes many dive bars), a chance to catch their eye, smile and hope for some acknowledgement of your existence may be all you get.  If you fail, you’ve still got booze and the Internet.

I honestly believe that the most forward you should be in engaging someone is asking the bartender to offer them a drink on your behalf, and expect nothing if they accept or deny.  Oh, and only when/if the bartender has time and agrees to do it, they may know things you don’t and decline or maybe even chase you away (that’s why you make friends with bartenders, they know stuff).

This doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly and outgoing, it just means that you need to observe, think, then possibly act.




Thursday, September 29, 2016

The overlooked ingredient in ice: water

Wanna know how to ruin almost every one of your drinks?  Use foul tasting water for ice making.  It seems pretty obvious, but I’ve experienced this a lot lately, and it pains me.

Whether shaken or stirred, ice not only cools a drink, it dilutes it- and if the water used to make ice tastes like chlorine, swamp funk, or whatever else, your drinks will too.

I’ve even encountered places where they didn’t filter the funk out of water for the soda systems and everything from soft drinks to iced tea tasted as if it was made with bilge water.  I would hate to think what bizarre things grow in those lines and on the icemakers after a few months.  I generally go for a bottled beer at places like this- and don’t return.

Solving water quality issues can be  a big challenge for bars and restaurants given their scale and volume of water usage, but at home you should be able to adequately filter your water or used bottled water to get decent ice and better drinks.

Or just drink your whisky neat- but that leaves the whole world of cocktails behind and we don’t want that.




Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A little map thing

OK, so I’ve been a bit slow to post over here.  I feel guilty, are you happy?

But I did start a thing you might find interesting.  I’m populating a Google Map with bars- some from my travels, some word of mouth, some from David Wondrich (via his Twitter feed and in Esquire), more to come from Martin Cate and Jeff Berry’s lists of Tiki bars.


No reviews, just locations and basic categorizations.  I have low standards, but I’m only putting in places I like, or that are recommended by folks who actually know what they’re talking about.