Cocktail Snobs: There’s a Time and a Place
So, I’m no stranger to being pretentious about a drink. I used to be a cocktail bartender, and am perfectly comfortable ordering ridiculously complex drinks off-menu. However, there is one rule: there’s a time and a place. I won’t go into an English pub and order a martini, even if they have the requisite ingredients. If I did, and had to explain to them how to make it, I certainly wouldn’t then complain about it and order them to make it again.
End of pre-amble. As I alluded to in a previous post, we were in the Asmoun Lounge at the Kasbah Tamadot, having some after dinner drinks, and there was a group of people there with us. I overheard them order Americano’s and a couple of Bloody Mary’s, and being of a cocktail persuasion, this piqued my interest. The guy then proceeded to ask whether the bartender knew how to make an Americano, then decided that he would tell him how he wanted it made… down to the centilitre. The bar we were in was not really conducive to this sort of order – there were maybe 8 spirits on the back bar, and it was quite clearly not geared up for hard-core cocktails. The drinks would obviously need to be made at the main bar elsewhere.
The drinks arrived, then this guy took them back to the bar and asked if he could ‘fix them up a bit’, and started decanting them into other glasses, adding extra soda, the works. The poor bartender had to get a bottle of Campari brought down to add to them to try further to ‘fix them up’. They returned the Bloody Mary’s as they were too spicy, asked them to remake them less spicy, then returned them again.
I was sat at the bar by this point, just observing and trying not to roll my eyes. I made some comment to him that only a bartender could be this diligent about drinks, and apparently he and this group owned cocktail bars in Copenhagen.
I could see the bartender (and the guy running the drinks from the main bar) getting annoyed, and I honestly felt for the guy. I wished I could speak Arabic or Berber just to be able to tell him I was on his side. I’ve been there, and it usually brings out simultaneous feelings of homicide and suicide.
Being in the industry, you would think these guys would quickly be able to tell which bars are geared up for making classic cocktails well, and which ones aren’t. I certainly can, usually at a glance of the staff and the set-up, if not after the first drink. I don’t know if they were being deliberately pretentious, but there really is a time and a place.
If the drinks aren’t right at first, and you don’t seem to be making headway, then give up and order a gin and tonic or a beer. They’re pretty hard to get wrong, and you’ll still enjoy them without pissing off every member of staff in the process.
Unfortunately, I never found out which cocktail bars these guys owned in Copenhagen. If I had, I would make a point to avoid them, or if I couldn’t, order the most complicated off-menu, esoteric drink I could think of, ask them to remake it, then complain again.
And anyway, I’m hardly ever in Denmark.