As if it isn’t bad enough to have customers tell me how to make their drinks… enter the asshat with slicked back hair and a hoop in his left ear from the bar down the street. It isn’t the ice this time, of course, even he knows better than that. He’s staring at the specials board, his Transition lenses still dark from the sunshine outside, one finger from each hand rests in a belt loop of his too tight jeans, he leans back on one heel. “Yeah give me one of those Kool-Aids but I want it as a shot.”
It’s a one liquor and two mixers kind of drink. “It’s not going to taste very good as a shot.”
He stares at me for a couple of long awkward seconds, like he doesn’t understand, and shifts his stance. I try to look away but I still see it in my peripheral vision: the toe shifts too, one ball almost twice the size of the other, his little sausage slinking in his skin tight pants. When his glasses finally clear up he asks, “Why not? It’s got like three liquors in it. Triple sec and, oh what else?”
I shake my head, “Every bar has a different recipe. Ours is just a flavored vodka, sweet and sour and a splash of Sprite.” Charlie always goes with the cheapest version.
“No, it should grape vodka, triple sec, and there’s a third one, where’s your book?”
I chuckle, grab it from behind the bar, and toss it to him. “It’s not in there.”
He looks confused but also, more than anything, haughty. “How could it not be in there?”
I roll my eyes, fold my arms, and lean back on the beer cooler. “I told you, every bar has their own recipe. I worked at one place downtown that used Coors Light. Google it, there are hundreds of recipes.”
His lips curl, his toe stiffens, and he tells me he’s the lead bartender down the street; he knows how to make a Kool-Aid (even if he can’t remember all of the ingredients). Ah the plight of the guy who has only worked at one bar and taken their house recipes to heart. They always think they know everything. I wonder what he would say if I told him that sometimes experienced bartenders even deviate from standardized recipes to improve on cocktails. A splash of Sprite in a Bloody Mary, 86 vermouth from dirty martinis, a little Triple Sec in a Mojito, and I won’t even get started on Mai Tai’s; they may be in the book but there are hundreds of variations made better by bartenders around the world. It would probably blow his mind, and his camel toe.