Old Habits

People call me an old soul. I prefer the rustic and comfortable over the new and cutting edge. If we have an issue to discuss, I’d rather meet over a beer to talk about it than shoot emails and texts at each other.

Maybe this is why, in Astoria, NY, where I lived for two years amidst the melting pot, my favorite Sunday afternoon haunt after a weekend of flipping bottles was the the old Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden, not the new Garden at Studio Square. Sure, the newer joint was cleaner, more modernized and de rigeur with the young throngs who flocked to it for a weekend afternoon of beer guzzling. And yet, something about the gravel floor, the beat up wooden picnic tables, the traditional Czech fare, the roistering authenticity of the crowd at the old garden kept me coming back for more.

In a similar vein, on a recent visit to my native New York City, I felt an deep comfort in going back to Le Cheile, the same bar I always go to when I return to my family’s neighborhood, Washington Heights. I ordered the same Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA from the same bartender, and it still tasted kind of off, like it did when I went there with my mom and sister the previous December. This time, however, I didn’t care. I just enjoyed being at a local bar on a Tuesday night in The Heights, watching the bartender take sips from his pint of ale whenever he turned to his cash register to close out checks, and the taste of beer from a possibly less than pristine draft system.

We are, indeed, creatures of habit. We find comfort in the familiar, be it a beer garden, bar, or the type of beer itself. Somehow, despite my unquenchable curiosity and all the craft brews popping up in LA, when in doubt, I always stick to my guns and grab a six-pack of good ole’ Lagunitas IPA.

Following the advice of successful entrepreneurs and moguls on LinkedIn, I seek to embrace change, break my routine, take risks. But if the decision concerns beer or drinking location, I’d rather not gamble. I jump on the wagon that always brings me to where I want to go, and ride ’til the wheels fall off.

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Back To Basics

Bitters!

Ah, simplicity. It’s a beautiful thing. Naturally, as a ‘tender, I get excited when I see something like this on a cocktail menu. This one is from the list at Malt in Newport, Rhode Island. With the current resurgence in whiskey and classic cocktails, it is no wonder that there is a concomitant resurgence in bitters. Bitters are, after all, a principal ingredient in the original cocktail, by definition, along with spirits of any kind, sugar, and water. As a professional mixer of spirits, I have great respect and admiration for an establishment that pays homage to this classic. Not only does it allow us to imbibe and appreciate history, it also lets us savor the flavor of the principal spirit—in this case, whiskey—unadulterated by too many added ingredients and flavors. Whenever a discriminating patron asks me to make them something, I almost always use this archetype as my inspiration, selecting a good bourbon or rye as my base, and build it from there.

Scrub-a-dub-dub

Hear ye, hear ye, drinkers! I just earned my California Food Handler Certificate of Achievement. Rest assured that I can now safely handle and serve you your popcorn chicken that makes that pitcher of Goose Island IPA so much more refreshing.

Furthermore, I will make sure to vigorously scrub my hands with soap and scalding water for at least twenty seconds after each cash transaction, before I resume slinging drinks.

I apologize for the lag, my thirsty brethren, yet it is necessary. It is my duty to take every reasonable action to keep your tipple pathogen-free.