I’ve mentioned my love of simplicity in the past [see Back To Basics from September 23]. As much as I enjoy slinging the pots and pans in the kitchen, I’ve just a few precious hours between down-dogging it in the afternoon sun and squeezing my aching arse into my skinny jeans to go to work in WeHo. For this reason, when I need to feed myself, I choose provender that requires the least complicated preparation possible yet still provides me with energy to write and deal booze. Currently, I’m in the thralls of a serious fruit fetish. Something about the slicing and dicing appeals to me. Rinse. Slice. Consume. Repeat. I savor a plate of fresh Fall fruit for its aesthetic appeal as much as I do for the taste and vitamins it provides. Here’s to the apples, pears, and avocados out there fueling this scribbling bartender’s creations on the page and in the glass.
You know you’re a bartender when you pour water into a pint glass from your Santevia Alkaline Water Pitcher and tilt the glass to a forty-five-degree angle because you’re so used to pouring beer from the tap at your bar.
Why the tilt? To minimize head, or foam, at the top of the beer. Tilting the glass allows the beer to slide smoothly down the inside of it, reducing head. More beer for the thirsty hophead!
Why alkaline water? To maintain my body’s healthy pH balance, thrown off by lack of sleep and one beer too many.
I’m a thirsty hophead myself. This I cannot change. I can, however, counter the higher level of acid from all those hops (and barley, and yeast, and…) by flooding it with alkalizing minerals like calcium and magnesium.
Stay hydrated, my friend.
We’re well into October, and, sadly, it’s time to say goodbye to a summer superfood sensation. Tonight I blend my last acai smoothie of the season. I whipped this guy up with vanilla coconut milk, banana, pure acai, frozen blueberries, and chia seeds. If I’ve learned anything from my indestructible superhero of a boss, it is that a bartender does well imbibing superfood liquids during the day if he plans on swilling liquid poison at night. It’s all about balance. And if Brazilians swear by this powerful fruit, why not take advantage of it in LA? After pounding this nutrient-packed shake, I’m ready to shake it up behind the bar all night long.
I have a great deal of experience with tea.
Some of the tea at Trader Joe’s is pure, like green tea, peppermint, or chamomile. Other varieties, however, are blends, particularly the Yogi teas, such as Yogi Ginger or Yogi Super Antioxidant green. For this reason, I often go to Whole Foods when I go on a tea shopping spree.
At Whole Foods, for a few more pennies, I can buy tea from brands that sell varieties that consist of just a single ingredient, such as lemon balm, licorice, or fenugreek. These brands are of superior quality because their owners get their herbs from places like a small farm in Bulgaria that grow the best, most fragrant, most potent herbs in the world. Moreover, these tea experts tend to know people such as the woman who picks the herbs on the farm and, on their most recent trip to the farm, she probably made them dinner and exorcised spirits from their souls and then mended the exorcism wounds with steaming mugs of lemongrass tea.
When drinking something as simple, satisfying, and warming as a cup of tea, I like the ingredients to be as pure as possible to better cleanse my addled soul.
Day in and day out, I seek to become the best tea drinker in all the land so that I may edify my fellow tea drinkers and convert all coffee and whiskey drinkers to the holy leaf in its brewed form.
At one of my first bartending gigs in NYC, a small Midtown dive, a regular said to me, You make better drinks than the owner. But that’s because he does the books, right?
By better, he meant stronger. In fact, I poured strong Jack and Cokes for this loyal customer because he consistently tipped very well, typically five dollars per drink, or upwards of twenty five per cent on his tabs.
As a drink dealer, I never even consider attempting to seduce customers into giving me a good tip by giving away the bar. However, I do recognize loyalty and generosity by pouring stronger drinks and occasionally comping a round for people who show up and throw down night after night.
I’m not perfect. Last night, a customer at my current bar complained that his Three Olives Berry Vodka mixed with Sprite was not strong enough. Give me some more medicine, he wailed. I’m dying!
I did not acquiesce because I’d never seen the guy’s face before.
After he’d signed his tab and left, however, I saw he’d left an eight dollar tip on an eighteen dollar tab. Good man, I thought. Next time I’ll take care of him. If he’d returned to finish his half-full glass, I would’ve topped it off.
The couple in Iowa who left their harried server a one hundred dollar tip on a sixty six dollar tab has generated much internet buzz. Former servers themselves, the couple wrote a note on the tab saying they’d been in the server’s shoes before and that they wanted to pay it forward.
As a bartender, I want to pay it forward, too. For this reason, when a customer tips me well, I’ll serve him or her first when my bar is slammed, and I’ll make his or her drinks more potent. It’s a truly symbiotic relationship.