|Jinny has been very ill and is currently undergoing rehabilitation in a Bangor facility so she will not be writing her article for awhile. She is making excellent progress and hopes to be able to return to writing her column in the near future... Adele.
The other night I found myself in the uncomfortable position of having to be a bartender because my employee who was scheduled was sick and I couldn't find anyone to take his place. We have three bars and everyone was busy working them. I find tending bar uncomfortable for several reasons: one, I have not tended bar in 30 years and drinks have changed considerably. Back in the day I made a lot of Old Fashions and Rob Roys and dry martinis. Nowadays, you have to make all these fruity, sugary, multi-ingredient, and frozen drinks that are rather complicated and have stupid and sort of vulgar names. Secondly, I don't drink so I'm not the best judge of what is the latest fad in mixed drinks. I know what is premium and what is top shelf, although there are a lot more brands than there used to be, but someone came up with the idea to invent all sorts of flavored rums and vodkas and other crazy stuff. Chocolate vodka? Please.
When I was tending bar we only occasionally make anything considered tropical and when we did, it involved infusing the liquor with fruit or using a drop of some kind of disgusting fruit schnapps. Sugary and fruity liqueurs were generally kept as apparatifs or after-dinner drinks and you served an ounce or two in a very small glass. Now, you throw three or four of them in with vodka or tequila, mix it in a blender with ice and give it some stupid name. In the end, it tastes like one of those slushy drinks you got as a kid in the corner store.
When I tended bar it was in a very nice hotel bar where everything was leather, brass, and mahogany and a piano player tinkled away in low lighting. Men came in in suits and women in pearls and they ordered things like scotch on the rocks and very dry martinis. Not anymore. Even the men order drinks that are fruity and frozen that no man would have been caught dead ordering in my day. We made Cosmopolitans and Pink Ladies, but I can't remember ever making one for a guy. Things like that were considered girly drinks. Back in the day when I did, rarely, have a drink it was always gin and tonic with a twist or some variation of that. Today, the gin sits on the shelf and is rarely poured. It doesn't mix well with fruit and sugar. We have some really excellent Bombay Sapphire that has a place of honor on the top shelf and looks pretty, but hardly anyone wants it. The same goes for scotch. The bottles collect a lot of dust.
The third reason I don't care to tend bar is that I am one of those people who attracts confessions. I get life stories in the produce section of the grocery store so behind a bar is the last place I want to be. People drinking alone at bars are given to conversation, and it is often depressing. In the one night I tended bar I had a guy who's wife ran off on him and their baby, a woman who was only 40 and had lost both her husbands to car accidents, A young man who's fiancée had dumped him for his sister, and a geologist who filled me in on the dangerous and deadly things happening with the planet using the voice of doom while sipping on scotch straight up in a rock glass. At least he was drinking good, simple scotch. In the course of the conversation he informed me that Yellowstone Park is actually a giant volcanic caldera that is the closest place to the violent center of the earth anywhere on dry land, which explains the boiling hot geysers all over the place. He went on to explain that the pressures and violent activity going on just beneath Yellowstone are horrifyingly powerful and that there is constant seismic activity, which shifts the points of venting hot, sulfuric water all the time and that at any time the whole thing could blow with the power of numerous atomic bombs, kill everything in a 300 mile radius, and cause destruction clear across the country, in all of southern Canada, most of Mexico, and around the world. Then he asked for another scotch. He went into a lot more detail than I have here, but I've given you the gist of it. By the time he finished I fully understood why he was drinking straight scotch and was almost wishing that I still drank gin.
Just when I was thinking about climbing into the ice machine, a man came up to the bar and ordered two classic, extra dry martinis. I wanted to kiss him. Afterwards he told me that they were the best martinis he and his wife had ever had. Normally, I would have felt really good about that and congratulated myself for still having the golden martini touch, but the fact that Yellowstone Park could blow with 5000 times the power of Mount Saint Helens at any time kind of made a great martini seem largely meaningless. It kind of made everything seem meaningless.
My greatest hope for the future is that Yellowstone Park doesn't blow up and I never have a bartender call out sick again.