Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Ten Dollar Shake

I was back in DC earlier this week and got to relive one of my favorite cocktails. A Jim Beam Milkshake! You'll find it here. It combines two of my favorite things---ice cream and bourbon. When I asked the waitress if anyone ever ordered a second one, she said no. Now I have a challenge for my next DC trip, but I think the lesson is clear, one is enough.

I'll meditate on that sans booze on my yoga teacher training. And no fellow boozers, the flask will not be accompanying me to Kripalu. This is Ms. Gin wishing you happy drinking and living. Cheers for now until April!

Monday, March 16, 2009

What Causes the Bender? The Key to it all....

For a bartender, I'm a lightweight. Blame in on the "no shift drinks" allowed policy. Rarely will I drink to get drunk. I'm a one hit wonder when it comes to alcohol. Give me a glass of wine with dinner, a sambuca in a snifter after too much dinner, or one fancy cocktail if going out for drinks, and of course the standard bourbon on the rocks (speaking of, I so wish I could be in London for this!)

So why on why did I agree to go to a 2 for 1 night out last night (beginning at 5 p.m.). Most of the drinks on the menu were vodka based---and I mixed them, the Polish Kiss, the Canadian Bloody Mary, and what?! the Rolo shot! Yes, they do melt Rolos down and wouldn't tell me what else was in there. And then out for sushi and sake afterwards. I should know better. 

In fact, we all should. After turning 21 and having our heads in the toilet or elsewhere, why do we treat our bodies in this way? I mean, I do yoga, I'm a vegetarian, I recycle. So why does the drink often sneak up on us? Do we all think we have super hero-style stomachs? Does our mind stop registering what our body is doing? 

In college, drinking=FUN. We did it when we were underage because we could. We did it when we were of age, because, well, we could finally do it in public. And now perhaps it's about memory in some way. Aren't they saying 40 is the new 30 and 30 is the new 20? Drinking reminds us of days when we could sleep off a hang-over, blow off a class and kiss whoever we felt like and things didn't matter.

With this economy, business has picked up the past couple weeks at the bar. I've felt a bit like a club bartender at times, almost throwing drinks at people. My last calls have lingered on, people want one more round, one more reason to stay just a while longer. 

After work, I usually turn to food (Saturday, so grateful to walk past the 2nd Ave. deli on 33rd and 3rd, and realize they're open until 4 am on Friday and Sat.), but yesterday, perhaps I was thirsty. I wanted to be the one on the other end of the bar. The one who wanted to feel invincible and carefree, or perhaps the one who wanted not to feel, but to just be and yes, I'm sure there are much more yogic ways to feel that than vodka and chocolate. But who doesn't love a little small destruction? If you do, try Key Bar---though what doesn't destroy your wallet, may do double duty on yours truly, so either proceed the 2 for 1 with caution or throw caution to the wind. 

Ms. Gin

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bar Napkins, 2

Sometimes I feel like a character and this proves it. One of my regulars happens to be a very talented artist and I got to watch something magical happen last week while tending. He lost himself in his bar napkin for about 15 minutes and produced this. As a writer, I know the feeling of getting lost in a poem so I got giddy watching him as the pen moved. For now, we'll call him Mr. Gin (as his regular first drink is a Sapphire and tonic).

So, my offer stands for all the artists in the area as well, come out and see me in April and see what happens on a bar napkin. It's a small space, but oh how we love our small spaces in the city.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bar Napkin Poems

I'm not going to lie, one of my goals at the bar is to have all my 10 seats filled with writers. Call it a make-shift wish of my own Algonquin roundtable. Or perhaps my own thing to do for National Poetry month coming up. So to get the ball rolling and to entice those writers to come out to Park Ave. in April, here's a poem penned by Amy Lemmon, Molly Peacock (and her rhyming napkin), myself, and Brad Hunter.

Late February

Three poets at a bar in the gloaming
Found, after a glass, their thoughts roaming
They stomached the burger
after their thoughts turned sugar
into new brainfire for poeming.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Where the Drink Comes From: Father Knows Best

Whenever people come in the bar and ask for a Bloody Mary, I tell them, I make the second best one they'll ever have. My father makes the best one. I'm not going to divulge the secrets here (at least not so soon), but when I think about drinking and where I learned the most before bartending, it's my father. We had a cat named Dewars and I remember liking the taste of scotch at a very young age. 

My tastes for alcohol changed as my father's changed. We shifted to bourbon, then manhattans. He added a little cherry juice, one of my trade secrets. We played around with martinis. He was the first person to teach me about apple martinis (bad! but pretty!). We liked the orange ones better---Stoli Oranj, splash of oj, splash of something sparkly---wine or soda depending on what's available. He had a stash of Godiva liquor in the fridge which went great on top of ice cream and Van Gogh Espresso vodka in the freezer. Perfect on the rocks or straight up. But my favorite drink recipe of my father's is what was known on the Bar Rouge menu a few years back: The Down and Dirty. I named it, but dad taught me the recipe. Vodka, olive juice, dash of gin, and a few dashes of tabasco to taste. 

Once a woman came into the bar and asked for a Seabreeze (an easy drink, but not ordered as much). She was surprised that I didn't have to ask what was in it. Again, I owe that to my father who made pitchers of them before we went to the community pool. It was the perfect summer drink. Grapefruit is one of my favorite flavors. I used to love The Body Shop's grapefruit shower gel (now I'm more of a Satsuma girl), but one of the new drinks for the spring on the Silverleaf menu (~yes, I just divulged my location~) will involve grapefruit and cinnamon. The inspiration comes from a typical favorite breakfast, half a grapefruit sprinkled with cinnamon. And that's a toss back to college breakfasts with my friend Annie in the student center. I don't remember how we came to add the cinnamon or if that happened years later, but it matters to me that every drink or every recipe has a story or memory. Someone to share, someone to say cheers, to clink glasses with and have a good time. 

For me, drinking always is about these kinds of connections. What I drink usually comes from a story, a person who drank it, who cracked open a Rolling Rock and passed it to me, or who procured a bottle of Old Grand Dad whiskey from her purse and said, tonight is a beginning, love.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Breaking the Rules

Last night I broke one of my "bartender rules." I make them, I set them, and I keep them. They're in place to keep me on the straight and narrow. And to keep my job feeling like a job. And to keep me safe. And then I broke the big rule (not the first time mind you, but...): Do not go out after work with bar patrons (at least until they become regulars and you know them). It's normally common sense and should apply in all situations. Do not go out with someone you met at a club after dancing all night, etc. Trust is something that should be built. Good things take time. There are plenty of adages either way.

However, "Harry," was the father of a teenager, and a rock and roll collector and a MOT. And I was hungry, and he was suggesting Korean food, and it was close by, and well, I was hungry and the conversation was lively. So I went for it. My instinct told me everything would be ok. It was. I had amazing dumplings and something called bipbipbop. And sake. And house made cinnamon tea---which perhaps one day after I become a regular there, may show up in some of my cocktails. And he promised next time he's in town, something signed from my namesake. And now I have a closer, after hours spot for those nights when a late night slice isn't the answer.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Karate Chop

I'm wondering if this has happened to any other bartenders. You have a busy enough bar, you're making drinks at a faster pace, and then somehow your hand catches a bottle in the well and well, you decapitate it! This is what I ended up doing to the Grey Goose last night. It happened so fast, and I only got a small nick on my right ring finger. No blood. No glass. Picture to prove it. Bar patrons to tell the story. Needless to say, when I did last call last night, everyone listened. hmmm, new tactic?!