Medalio, Testiculo, Ridiculo.


As a bartender, ahem! Excuse me, mixologist I believe is the proper nomenclature now. My apologies.  As a mixologist, like any “ologist” we have a language all our own:

Up: In a martini glass.

On the rocks: Over ice.

Bruised: Shouldn’t a done that, mmm hmm.

Neat: No ice.

Muddle: Carpel tunnel culprit.

Stir: Stir.

And so on.  Want to order your scotch or bourbon with one ice-cube? Easy. It’s called a”medalio”. Want two? It’s called “two ice cubes”.  However, last week a table fell victim to my humor and I not only created a term for “two rocks” but it has since started to be used.  Follow me!

Last Monday a two mid-thirties couples sat in my booth.  Eavesdropping on their conversation- yes, we hear everything– I heard that they were talking about sex.

“Good evening.  May I start anyone off with a cocktail?” I ask.

“Ha! OMG, I am such a teenager right now-” giggled one of the wives.

The two wives at the table ordered their cocktails and I soon turned to the husbands to ask what they would like.

“I’ll take your most peaty scotch with one rock, please,” order one.

“One rock?”critiqued his wife.

“Yeah, one rock.  It’s just enough,” he responded.

“You’re ridiculous.  I’m sorry, my husband is clearly high maintenance.”

“Actually, there’s a name for that in the bar world,” I began, “It’s called a medalio or medallion.”

“Ha! See?  It’s a thing, honey,” he said.  “On that note, I’ll have your most peaty scotch, medalio-” he announced, correcting his posture into a more manly stance.  His wife rolled her eyes mouthing the words I’m so sorry to me.  I continued to the last gentleman at the table.

“And for you?  What would you like?”

“I’m a bourbon man, myself.  Give me your best bourbon only with two rocks, please.”

Laughter erupted from the table.  “OMG, honey!  You cannot be serious right now.  You too?” groaned his wife.  “I am so sorry. I don’t know when our husbands became so high maintenance.”

“Actually, I order my bourbon that way.”

Seriously, I do.  One melts too quickly, still leaving the bourbon tepid.  The water from two melted ice cubes cools just enough and the water dilutes a perfect amount.  Also known as a Kentucky Iced Tea.    

 The wives’ laughter had done from crescendo to screeching halt; subsiding in an occassional “tee hee”.

“Is there a name for that?” asked one of the wives.

Now, there isn’t actually a name for just two rocks.  You simply order it as such.  But I couldn’t break the news to these two ladies that there was no fun name for it.  They seemed like a fun bunch, and given their X-rated conversation from earlier, my witty little mind created a gem.

“Of course there is.  It’s called a testiculo.”

I pressed my lips together fighting back the hyena-like  laugh that was brewing in my lungs.  Genius!  I thought to myself.  It’s too good.  Two balls, two ice-cubes, one vessel!  How do you come up with this stuff? Daft, daft  sense of humor I have.

And apparently one that requires being bilingual.  No one person at the table got my joke.  Worse, they actually thought ordering a bourbon testiculo was the proper way of ordering that particular drink.

“BOOM! See?!” gloated the bourbon drinker, “My drink is a thing too.  Take that!”

Short of the husbands chest-bumping, ripping off their shirts and crushing beer cans on their foreheads, the two expressed their manhood in the best way two men can sitting down: a high-five.

Trying to refrain from deafening the linguistically naive foursome with my laughter, I nodded and bolted behind the bar.  I was beside myself.  How could someone not get that joke?  Oh, sure, because the words testicle and testiculo are soooo different.  Of course.  But, I must say, it’s one thing to not get a joke, it’s quite another to understand it as fact and gloat.  It’s not my fault that the public school system failed them.  I should in fact write the school system they attended and thank them for allowing me to indulge in my new-found sadistic humor.  Why you ask?  Because those two very gentleman proceeded to order their testiculos all night long.

One point, or rather, two points for the bartendress.

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Exquisite Cathartic Corpse


The busiest nights in a restaurant and bar can be predictable.  The holidays? Sure.  But there are some other events that coincide with a busy night.  At my restaurant, any artistic or theatrical event equates to a busy night, as do conventions.  But every so often, out of no where are we all blindsided, never having realized that what we were calling slow, was simply the calm before the storm.

It was a weekday -let’s say Wednesday- and I was walking through the back door of the kitchen.  Typically, I am greeted with half a dozen cooks prepping for the evening.  Each looks up at me to say hello while dicing, whipping, cleaving and carving the evening’s ingredients; Pantera gently blaring on the boombox beside with salamander.  I usually spout out two “what ups!” there “holas and on occasion, a ciao“.  Perhaps it’s because I am a bartender, and to the kitchen I am a walking imperial pint of beer, but I’d like to say that they are all genuinely happy to see me.

Motive notwithstanding, I look forward to entering through the back kitchen and being welcomed.  So, you can imagine how shocked I was to open the back door and be mid-hola to find that no chef was to be found.  I stepped in, slowly closing the door behind me, and for the first time found myself saying, “Hello?”

Not a soul was in sight.  I walked through the kitchen and knocked on the walk-in door to hear no knock back.  I continued down the hall, passed the office- where no one was sitting- passed the coolers and opened the bar door to find my evening manager sending two waiters home.  “We’ve got 12 couverts on the book.  Want to send your cocktail waiter home?”

“Uh, I guess so.  12?  Really?”  I asked.

“Really.  Start up a game of Exquisite Corpse- it’s going to be a long night,” replied my manager.

For the record, Exquisite Corpse is the best past time ever.  A paper is folded into thirds and each person is designated a portion of the body: head, torso and legs.  The first person draws their designated portion leaving lines for the corresponding parts ie: drawing a head and leaving necklines on the portion beneath it.  Each person is not allowed to see beyond the lines provided until the drawing is finished, revealing an Exquisite Corpse.  Leave it to Dali, Manet, Magrite and a bottle of Absinthe to invent such a game.  Also, you’re welcome.

I send home my cocktail waiter and proceed to hunt for scrap paper.

The night begins as uneventfully as it had been predicted.  I began avidly cleaning all the bottles in the bar, and like a slow wasn’t quite torture enough, no customer was drinking.  I paced about the bar, then the restaurant and popped onto the line to chat with the chefs, who had taken to making a hanging sculpture from the ceiling with every set of thong, ladle and slotted spoon in-house.

After a few minutes, I walked into the bar to find a group of five people walking in for a drink- forty percent of the restaurant customers were now in my bar.  I began shaking a few martinis and muddling some other concoction when I saw another couple come in…then another, and another.  By the time I had finished the five drinks I had to make, my bar had filled up.  I popped my head around the corner to find that the same was true for the floor.

My printer started to eject ribbons of paper with dozens, upon dozens of drink orders.  People had not only arrived all at once, but were suddenly remarkably thirsty.  Like a five-armed Hindi deity, I was slinging drinks left and right, occasionally popping into the kitchen to drop an order.

“Order in!” I yelled as I dropped a ticket in the basket.  I looked up to find that each chef was catatonic; the restaurant was now at capacity in under 20 minutes,  and my ticket was the first on the board.

“On the new-” squeaked the expo.

I zipped back into the bar to find that the printer paper had now reached the floor.  New customers were seated around my entire section, their eyes fixated on me as if to say, “Yeah, we’re ready-”

What happened next, no one can recall.  We had all just been ambushed like the Spartans, only no horse to show for it.  I’m positive I blacked out- mid-back flip- and against all odds, landed on my feet to find that it was now an hour passed closing time.  My bar looked like a crime scene: empty glasses coated in beads of condensation littered the bar top.  Napkins covered plates whose sauces had permeated the linen like blood through a sheet at a homicide scene; white straws were scattered resembling a skeleton hit by a mortar.  And dishes?  Greek weddings looked like a display at Pottery Barn in comparison to my tables.  I had my work cut out for me.

Not knowing where to begin, I turned to my iPod, put on The Smiths and tackled what was in front of me: three racks of crystal to be polished.  No matter how stark the shock of an unannounced busy night is, upon closing, a calmness transcends it all.  Rhythmically polishing, wiping, listening to the incessant hum of broken compressor -juxtaposed with  the cacophony dishwashers slamming pans through the wash- one can’t help but to be lulled into a trance.  I pour myself a stiff drink and reach a point of reflection.

Reflecting the evening havoc, reflecting my place within it and my place in general.  I’m 28, with a strong curriculum vitae, I’m trilingual and yet here I am cleaning restaurant shrapnel.  Time and again I am looked at with such curious eyes asking, “what on Earth are you doing here?” Oh, I don’t know- I think to myself- something about an economy crippling recession…ever heard of it?  As if the question had never crossed my mind or I am simply to lazy to attempt the contrary.  Other times, I’m hardly addressed at all- a waiter is clearly subhuman.  Waiting tables may not be a real career, per se, but it is certainly a real job.  Just ask the hundreds of thousands currently collecting unemployment.

I sip on my drink and begin to breakdown the bar.  The reek of Windex and ammonia coupled with continuous humming of the compressor -and the now blaring ranchero music from the dish pit- bring me deeper into a state of tranquility.  In this moment, harsh chemicals and what I consider Mexican sonic pollution,  has the effect of being rocked to sleep by my mother.

The staff begins to congregates at my bar, sharing stories of complaint and triumph.

“Did you see that absolute harlot on table 42?  Yeah, she’s the one who had all those fucking substitutions,” groaned one of the servers as two others grunt in commiseration.

I begin to pour drinks for the kitchen staff whose uniforms are tie-died with a combination of butter, wine, vinaigrette and sweat.

“Are you talking about the Veal Scallopini Carbonara, sub salmon for veal, olive oil for carbonara, no onions, no dairy?” asked the saute chef.

“That’s the one!  She was sitting right at 42, did you see her?” asked the server.

“Did it ever occur to her to order the Catch?” whose description that night was exactly that.

Bantering about the evening continues and I proceed to drink and clean in silence, listening to the conversation taking place.  Back of house staff surfaces, as do the cooks who were called in to work.  I pour more drinks as each staff member sits down at the bar.  Venting evolves into laughter and glasses clink together in cheers and truce.  The kitchen and floor staff apologize to one another and for a few moments, pipe dreams like world peace suddenly seem possible.

“Hey, Katix- how was your night?” asks my sous chef.

I look up to find that my bar top is filled with some of my favorite people on this planet.  Taking a moment, I relish in the cathartic relief bourbon has on physical exhaustion and mental strain.

“Couldn’t tell you.  I blacked out around 6:30p.m.,” I reply while rediscovering the game of Exquisite Corpse I had started earlier. “Do you want to draw the head?”

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The Loin Ranger.


In recent years, New Mexico has taken away some of the movie production limelight from Hollywood.  Between the state of the art sound stages, tax incentives and ability to travel from cityscape to a desolate landscape in under 15 minutes- industry magazines have knighted us Tamalewood.  With more movies come more film crews, and with more film crews comes star-studded thirst at my bar.

I’ve waited on many a celebrity.  Some I’ve enjoyed, some have made me go home and throw away every DVD that they are in.  Yes, I’m talking about you Jessica Alba and Tommy Lee Jones.  The Avengers recently wrapped, and as we said goodbye to that crew, we welcomed another: The Lone Ranger.

Now, ladies- you know what this means.  Not only is there Army Hammer, but the ever-lusted over Johnny Depp.  However, I have yet to see either.  So as I wait on the co-stars, director, the producer, the director of photography, the lighting crews (both first and second unit), the prop crews, the make-up artists, the craft crews, all the way down to the bloody interns- I subtly tell them to relay a message: (Hammer and Depp’s) long-lost muse awaits behind this bar, Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights.  I get a giggle and a great conversation out of it.

As with previous film crews, I’ve become close with a few members from this crew.  Naturally, they’re the rowdy ones who enjoy a good cocktail (or five) and end up closing the bar with me every night they come in.  Just this past week, my usual suspects bellied-up to the bar and had their usual drink: a Pepino Chilaca.

The Pepino Chilaca is a signature drink at my bar.  It is in essence, a bloody mary for the tomato hater.  Muddled cucumber, lime juice, a hint of simple syrup and chipotle infused vodka, shaken into submission and poured into a salt-rimmed colins glass.  Refreshing, spicy and violently addictive. The Lone Ranger crew, though, added a brilliant twist: serving it “up” in a salt-rimmed martini glass. Total genius.  As a result, we’ve coined the Pepino Chilaca “up” as Lone Ranger Style.  A bar term and an inside joke with some new friends.

A few nights ago, a couple sat at my bar to dine.  They started with wine, had dinner and ended with cocktails and strangely, ordered the Pepino Chilaca “up”.  As this drink is a bit labor intensive to make, I struck up a conversation with them as I muddled.

“You know, it’s funny that you ordered this drink, up-” I began.

“Yeah?  It just sounds so good that way, we thought we’d give it a shot!” replied the woman.

“Well, you and the film crew in town share the same cocktail pallet,” I responded.

“Which film crew?” asked the man.

“The Lone Ranger crew.  They come in all the time and order this drink, this exact way.”

The couple looked at each other and laughed.  I prepped the next step for the drinks and looked over my shoulder.

“What’s so funny, you two?” I asked.

“We’re on the Lone Ranger crew, too!” they giggled.

“How funny!” I responded, “Well, I’ll let you in on the code for how to order this drink then.  Since so many of your crew have come in and ordered it this way, we’ve coined it the Pepino Chilaca, ‘Lone Ranger style’.”

“Perfect!  Now we know how to order our next round-” replied the man, “two more Pepino Chilicas- Lone Ranger style!”

I handed off their drinks and within moments, I was muddling their second round.

As they were now “in the know”, the inevitable conversation of “so, who do you know?” began.  I listed off my new regulars and relayed the same message to them, as I have to the others.  They giggled and promised to deliver the urgent news: the long-lost muse had been found.  We chatted through their second round and into their third.

I was getting ready to close up when they signaled for the bill.  I printed it and walked over to them.

“Well, it was a pleasure,” slurred the woman.

“All mine, I assure you!” I shmoozed.

The two were near ready to leave when the man left to the restroom, leaving the woman and I to gush over the leading men of the movie.  We reminesced stares and stills from previous movies, arguing over which was better.  We compromised on Don Juan de Marco.  The man returned and the two gathered their things.  As they left, I reminded them of their new sole purpose in life.

“Don’t forget to tell the Loin Ranger, that his muse has been behind this bar all along!” I called out.  Just as quickly, I could feel my face begin to flush a hue of beet.

First silence, then thunderous laughter.  In attempts to manifest my destiny as a celebrity’s muse, I instead named Larry Flynt’s new blockbuster.

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Mr. & Mrs. Hipster.


Readers!

I hope I am the first to reach you with this news: hipsters are taking over New Mexico.  I’d like to thoroughly blame American Apparel for tagging women’s clothing in the men’s section, Pabst Blue Ribbon, non-prescription glasses, ’80s revival neon plastic shades and those goddamn self-rolled cigarettes.

Hide your kids, hide your wife, hide everybody!  Dance floors are being inundated by hipsters performing (non-unison) Sun Salutations and having epileptic fits, known only as Vinyasa flow yoga, to techno.  Clothing stores have racks filled with clothing that is so ironic, to find a sweater without owls, sequined foxes or a Technicolor vomit of native prints, you are left to knit one yourself.

Coffee shops are now more smug than ever before, with the question, “what temperature would you like your coffee brewed?”

I WANT IT HOT, DAMN IT!

And music?  Music has simply raised its middle finger and sighed, “whatever.”

Now, I don’t want to give you the wrong impression- I don’t mind hipsters.  In fact, I’ve discovered a remarkable humorous quality in this subculture that they would only approve of:  I laugh at them, they say I don’t get it, I laugh harder and remark how ironic it is, they reply “totally” and saunter away.  It’s a beautifully reciprocated relationship and just the other day, I got to wait on my first hipster couple.

The couple walked through the restaurant and straight to my bartop.  I proceeded to lay white linens as place settings and welcomed them.  They settled in to their seats with a twinkle of excitement in their eyes.   Someone had clearly just deposited their allowance.

The two took a moment analyzing the menu and as they did so, I analyzed them.  He looked nearly dapper wearing what appeared to be vintage black Oxford’s with neon pink and grey argyle socks.  His slacks were well-pressed and a perfect shade of charcoal grey.  A crisp shirt was tucked into them; grey and white plaid with a ribbon of fuchsia and pearl snap-buttons trailed up his chest with a white bow tie garnishing his collar.  A tight-fit brown corduroy vest was the unfortunate addition to his ensemble.

She, wore persimmon-colored leggings under a brown corduroy skirt and green peep-toed leather pumps.  A white silk blouse billowed from beneath the same brown corduroy vest that her date was wearing.  A white and blue keffiyeh was tied around her neck.  Now, this is where things get strange.

Both not only had the same Mick Jagger haircut, but the same non-prescription oversized glasses with lime green frames.  Her lips and eyelids matched her tights, and his haircut mirrored his facial hair.  Their faces both adorned with unfortunate perma-frowns in efforts to mask their true happiness…irony at it’s best no doubt. These two were officially Mr. and Mrs. Hipster.

“Uh, I have a like, question-” spoke Mr. Hipster, snapping me out of my observing daze.

“I have an answer,” I replied.  Both looked at me from above their faux glasses, their mouths ajar.  Mrs. Hispter adjusted her bangs, set her elbow onto the bar and leaned her body weight forward.

“I’m a vegan,” she sighed.

“That’s not really a question,” I giggled, trying to lighten their perma-frown faces.  They both sighed, looked at each other, then to me.

“Right.  Anyway, we both are like vegans, so like what can we eat?” asked Mr. Hipster.

I ran through the few options we offer for vegans and I just as quickly placed their order.  Walking back from the kitchen, I turned into the bar to find the two, mouths ajar, waiting for me with more questions.

“So like, the vegetables- where are they from?” questioned Mrs. Hipster.  I proceeded to give my automated response to the restaurants ongoing efforts to promote Farm-to-Fork dining and how lately, a few local farms were providing us with produce.

“OK…[sigh] but like which vegetables are from which farms,” asked Mr. Hipster, “I just like knowing where my food comes from, or whatever. Right?”

“Right.  Let me go ask my chef.”   The kitchen is going to hate me.

I walked back to the kitchen and put on my best doe-eyes I could.

“Hey, chef?” I chirped, and without saying a word, he whipped around with a flaming sauce pan of spinach and grunted.

“So on these vegan dishes, the couple would like to know where the vegetables in question are from.”

Again, without saying a word, chef furrowed his brow and proceeded to walk to the back cooler barking, “BEHIND. HOT. OFF LINE!” to his minions on the line.  Moments later, he walked back with the sauce pan still aflame in hand and passed me a list.

“Thanks!” I smiled only to have chef whip back around and continue with his flaming sauce pan.

I walked back into the bar with the list to find my hipsters sharing a set of earbuds, listening to the Vivian Girls.  Yes, it was that loud.

“So, it looks like all of our greens are from a place in the north valley-”

“Which one?” inquired Mrs. Hipster.

“Spinach, kale, arugula-”

“No, the farm,” sighed Mr. Hipster.

“Oh, Cecilia’s.  Cecilia’s Farm.  The squash is from Los Poblanos as are the asparagus and the root vegetables…”

I trailed off as I saw what I had to tell them was not what they wanted to hear.  As I read down the list to root vegetables and looked across to find that Gemini Farms had been crossed out and Cysco had been written in, I froze.  Suddenly, I felt like Joseph McCarthy on the senate floor, with a list of phony local food providers.

Actually, it wasn’t nearly as false as McCarthy.  Cysco Foods had to supply us with supplementary root vegetables, as those from the local provider ran out (due to their popularity I might add).  But I couldn’t tell Mr. and Mrs. Hipster that.  Their mouths were ajar and their eyes fixated on the list.

“Cysco Farm.  They’re up north.  Sound good?  Great. I need to return this list to chef-” and with that, I darted to the kitchen, dropped the list in the order basket and quickly walked back into the bar.  I had to change the subject quickly.

“So, where are you two from?” I asked, maniacally polishing wine glasses.

“From the Earth,” responded Mr. Hipster.

“Me too.  Anywhere in particular?” I asked.

“[sigh] Originally, from Portland.  But we’ve lived everywhere,” responded Mrs. Hipster.

“I see.  What made you choose New Mexico?”

“Nothing,” said Mr. Hipster.

“It was chosen for us-” added Mrs. Hipster.

“Family?” I guessed.

“Scrabble,” answered Mr. Hipster.

“What?  Like, the game Scrabble?” I questioned, completely bewildered.

“Yeah.  Scrabble determines our destiny, or whatever,” said Mrs. Hipster.

I know her explanation was meant to clarify their answer, but it didn’t.  How on Earth did a bar of square-inch wooden lettered tiles, determine their destiny? I have traditional Scrabble, travel Scrabble, Scrabulous on Facebook and a Scrabble application on my iPhone, and not a single version has ever determined my destiny.  I was either missing out, or these two had their heads so far up their derrières, they could see out their own throats.

Attempting to phrase the question with as little skepticism as possible, I blurted, “How?”

“We get our bag of Scrabble tiles and grab a handful.  Then we pull it out of the bag and see what it spells,” explained Mrs. Hipster.

“Yeah,” added Mr. Hipster.

“And those tiles spelled ‘New Mexico’?”

“No, they almost spelled Santa Fe.  It was either Santa Fe or Seoul,” said Mrs. Hipster.

“We went with Santa Fe,” added Mr. Hipster.

“I can see that.  Well, luckily you weren’t actually playing as proper nouns aren’t allowed!” I joked.

My joke was wasted.

“So you really drew Scrabble tiles and ended up here, huh?”

“Yeah, via Portland-” confirmed Mr. Hipster.

“Destiny,” remarked Mrs. Hipster, amorously gazing at Mr. Hipster.

Readers, the hipsters are here.

I’d also like to blame Portland, Oregon.

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A Shirley Temple Christmas


(Relive the holidays with this post…or call me a slacker!)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year:  family, friends, vacations, bonuses, presents, food and who can resist holiday libations?    Even the cocktails themselves feel the spirit of the holidays tweaking just a touch to add a taste to the holidays.  Memories of a childhood Christmas are brought back with the crumbling of a bizcochito cookie, or the hangover of too much eggnog.  Walking about town with a hot apple cider in hand, feeling the intoxicating high of a community just simply happy, can render a grin on even Mr. Scroodge’s face.  I love the holidays.

I especially love Christmas time at my restaurant.  People are just generally kind, more patient, more generous and not only with the servers, but with each other.  My restaurant recently catered a Christmas party hosted by a family, whose guests only reinforced this point.  A morning party that was truly a pleasure to work.

Of the hundreds of parties I have tended bar for, this one was truly exceptional.  The entire restaurant was booked for friends and family, to have a lavish five hour cocktail party with an exceptional array of appetizers.  In my world, Silver Oak cabernet (2006) flowed in luscious crimson ribbons into every glass; a sight Baucus himself would have envied.  As the elder crowd marinated their conversations, the children of the party starting getting restless, eyeing the decadent dessert buffet.

None of the parents had formally introduced the wee ones, so they took to doing so themselves.  A fascinating social dynamic unfolded.  The children, ranging from 4-7 years-old, began complimenting the other on their holidays outfits.

“I really like your sparkles,” said the youngest of the bunch.

“Thanks.  My mom picked it out,” replied the other.

The boys proceeded to have their own way of making small talk which entailed convincing the others to follow them up to the gigantic candy bowl (the complimentary mints at the door)- proof that male communication skills develop much later than girls.  The children ran a-muck as the parents continuously sipped on their bottomless glasses of wine, graciously provided by the host of the party.  After a few dozen suicide laps around the restaurant, the children bellied up to the bar for a drink.

I was about to offer them all some water, when the eldest of the bunch ordered a drink.

“May I please have a Shirley Temple?” he asked.  Delighted by his manners, I smiled and proceeded to make his drink.

“Extra cherries?” I offered.

“Yes, please!” he responded with excitement.

One Shirley Temple quickly turned into a round for the lot- now all seated at the bar- eagerly awaiting their drinks.  Once served, they all clinked their glasses and sucked down half of their drinks in one gulp.  Giggling to myself, I tried to take a snap shot of the youngest bar patrons I’ve ever had.  They continued their small talk, each taking turns in ordering a round.

“Excuse me, may we please have one more for all of us?”  asked the doe-eyed youngest girl of the bunch.  Had this been anyone of age, I would have considered cutting them off- but what could another round of Shirley Temples do?  After all, it’s Christmas and their parents were not barring their consumption.

“Another round?” I smiled, subtly teaching them invaluable lingo.

“Yes, please!” cheered another.

“What kind of grenadine are you using?” asked the eldest of the bunch.

“It’s a special grenadine that we make just for the restaurant,” I replied, “It has hibiscus flowers, sugar and pome-”

“Pomegranate, I know-” interrupted the little twerp.

“Pomegranate, that’s absolutely right,” I responded, “have you ever made grenadine before?”

“No, but I kinda know a lot about grenadine and Shirley Temples,” gloated the twerp.

“Is that so?  Who makes the best Shirley Temple?” I asked.

“So far it’s Minnie Mouse and Disney land and you.”

Suddenly, he wasn’t a little twerp anymore.  It’s amazing what a little tickle of the ego will do to someone.

“Me?  Why thank you!” I answered, dropping a third cherry into his glass.

A new comer arrived and took a few minutes climbing up onto the barstool.  I took the liberty of making her a Shirley Temple, so she could join the serious discussion about which cookies were Santa’s favorite.  I set her drink, with two cherries, in front of her.  She was so excited about the two cherries that she chose to tell her parents about it immediately.

“Two!?” she shrieked in bliss, and proceeded to get her parent’s attention, “Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad! Daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy! Dad! DADDY, LOOK! Dad! dad!”

“WHAT IS IT MY DARLING CHILD?” said her father, his attention now undivided.

“I got TWO cherries!  The lady gave me TWO!” she grinned while she drinking her Shirley Temple at warp speed.

“That’s so cool honey!” replied the father and quickly returned to chatting with the big kids.  The little girl was still so excited that she now wanted tell her mom about the two cherries.

“Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mommmmmmmyyyyy!” she repeated.

Her new found friend sitting next to her turned to me , shaking her head with comisurating eyes, “She’s just a kindergartener, you know?”

So young do we start making excuses for our friend’s behavior after a few too many drinks.  I refrained from laughing at how darling this little girl was and how eager she was to grow up.  If she only knew.

“Oh, a kindergartener?  That explains everything….what grade are you in?”

Her cheeks were sucked in tightly as she slurped the last possible drop of the Shirley Temple.  She gasped for air, wiped her grenadine-graced lips on her white lace sleeve and responded, “Third grade.”

Happy (belated) Holidays to you all and Happy 2012!

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The Hot(el) Files: The Wedding Reception.


I have recovered from the visual atrocities of La Quinceañera and am mentally stable enough to report the final Hot(el) File.  I apologize in advance for any emotional tangents that may find their way into this entry.  Although I may be mentally stable, there is no telling how the physical Tourette’s -the nervous tic I’ve been plagued with since La Q-  may manifest itself while I type.  You have been forewarned.

Of the five catering gigs my restaurant provided for this hotel, three of them were weddings.   As a prospective bride myself, I can’t help but to compare, contrast and critique each wedding I attend or work.  I’ve made a list of things I have loved from Thai paper lanterns to Hindi copper bells ringing in the kiss.  Centerpieces as simple as wheat grass flowerbeds have wowed me, where those involving live fish, have horrified me.  Color schemes ranging from navy and fuchsia to sage and chocolate have tickled my artistic palette while  officiates conducting the ceremony, have punctured it.

I’ve made my notes, collected addresses and dropped my names.  I am in full-blown wedding planning mode.  After three weddings at this particular hotel, one thing has been decided: I will die before I have a wedding there.

Why, you ask?  It’s quite simple: I love food.  This hotel, does not.  We’ll leave it there so as to not bash the coup, I mean, sous chef and their wonton handling of the pork loins, or their bastardizing of the sauce Béarnaise- WHERE IS YOUR BAIN-MARIE?! MURDERER!

Pardon me.  Let us stop there so as to not berate the staff members, whose uniforms displayed a traces of a buffet more appetizing than the one being set up,  nor the linen company whose definition of “dry cleaning” clearly entails a Swiss Army knife and a gentle scraping motion.  DAFT SWINES!  Please, let us get straight to the plump underbelly of this event; the guests.

Although each wedding technically had different guests, the demographic was the same.  All dressed in costumes stolen from the set of Friends circa 1991; subdued shoulder pads, platform felted-high heels with silver buckles and jersey-polyester blends as far as the eye could stand.  The hair?  Flock of Seagulls attack Farrah Fawcett and win, immortalizing the victory with Scotchgard.

Three separate couples were married, all mysteriously with the same color scheme: puddy on puddy.  There were three different brides who all looked like they could have been sisters, sharing the same breast size (53-A), and three grooms who were all definitely the asshole jock from your high school voted “Best Smile” and “Most Likely to Knock-up a Cheerleader”.  Teenage evidence of the latter award was present at each wedding.

In other words, these weddings were made for people watching so epic that Joan Rivers would have reversed every plastic surgery to have worked this catering event.  But I had someone far better than Joan Rivers; we’ll call her, Rosa.

Rosa is the hotel’s bartender whom I was teamed up with for each wedding.  Both she and Rivers were born somewhere around the Cretaceous period and when Rivers went Hollywood, Rosa went Guadalajara.  She is a pint-sized advocate of Catholicism, with jet-black hair, painted eye brows, mauve acrylic nails and the only member of the hotel staff whose uniform was freshly pressed.

It was the last of the three weddings, and the two of us set up the bar as she recounted moments from her wedding day.

“Aye, mija, it was so beautiful. We had everything in white,” she said, relishing in her day of glamour.

“What did you have to eat?” asked the gourmand inside me.

“A whole roasted pig, you know the kind you cook underground? Si, mija, con arroz and beans and salsas-”

Rosa’s description of the meal quickly turned into the description of the ceremony.  It was a traditional catholic wedding that sounded like a three-hour game of Simon Says.  Once married, the marriage was consummated bringing up Rosa’s view on children before marriage.

“Aye, it’s like, why bother, right?  I mean, they don’t deserve the wedding, right, mija?” she asked, ready to stab me with a pairing knife if I thought otherwise.

“Right, Rosa.  Why bother?” I said, terrified to disagree with what was turning out to be a million-year-old nun.  She smiled at me with great pleasure, happy that I had concurred.

We finished setting up the bar and had a perfect view of the ceremony.  The guests began to arrive, each eclipsing the other with their hair.  The wedding party, all dressed in puddy, started to walk down the aisle immediately prompting a remark from Rosa.

“Uy! What were they thinking letting them where white!?”

From the sounds of it, one would have assumed that she had just witnessed a grisly murder.  From the grip of her mauve nails around my arm, I thought she was in labor.  Rest assured, there was no baby, but to Rosa, there had just been a murder.

“Mija, do you see that?!  What did I just tell you, mija?”

“About the puddy?” I asked, trying to avoid the subject.

“No, mija! About the babies!” she hissed.  I turned to see the bride walking down the aisle, with her toddler. Rosa shunned the couple’s lack of integrity for the institution of marriage with a flagrant strand of Spanish profanities.

As I watched the bride make her way down the aisle,  two songs that popped in my head…the “Wedding March” was not one of them.  It was a tie between “Ballad of Bodacious” and “Mrs. Fat Booty”.  A visual spectacle.  To avoid horrid wedding dress karma, I am going to bite my tongue about the details.  I will tell you that getting into this dress, required both a trampoline and assistance from the local fire department.

The ceremony was soon over and the first dance began.  Rosa rolled her eyes as my heart melted as the toddler ran up to its parents midway through the song, to join them.  Unorthodox, but come on, it was sweet.  I was snapped out of my Hallmark moment by the following sentence.

“I need two red-headed sluts and a blow job,” blurted a bridesmaid, obnoxiously chewing what I know was watermelon flavored Bubblicious.

I was catatonic.  I had an idea, yet no idea as to what this puddy-dressed sailor was asking me for.

“Excuse me, miss?” I responded.  As I leaned into the cloud of watermelon Bubblicious, Rosa elbowed her way in front of me.

“What is it that you need, mija?”

The puddy-dressed sailor repeated her order and Rosa got down to business.

“OK, mija, but there are three kinds of blow jobs- which one do you want?  The one with the cream or the peach?”

I was now speechless on two counts.  First, by the original request and second, by Rosa’s wikipedia-like knowledge of what sounded like the Kama Sutra.  Her Guadalupe glow started to dim as more drink orders came in.  The groomsmen were now ordering and she needed some help.

“OK, jito, you got it-” she said to the groomsmen while turning to me, “Bueno, mija, I need your help.  I need you to make two sex on the beaches and three blue balls- OK, mija?”

“I only know how to make two blue balls, Rosa-” I said.

“Que?  Just make one more, mija.”

Clearly, my joke had no audience behind the bar.  I opened a reference book and started to mix ever cordial behind the bar to make the drinks I was delegated.  Syrups were flying everywhere and my shoes began to stick to the ground.  The wedding guests started to crowd the bar, screaming their drink orders.

“Sex on the Beach!” “Bald Beaver!” “Blow Job, please!”

I didn’t know if I should laugh or gargle peroxide, but ear plugs would have been a great investment.  Frantically referencing the book of diabetes-inducing cocktails, I turned to Rosa to ask how to make a Bald Beaver.

“Hey, Rosa!” I yelled, whipping her around.  She turned and smiled at me, waiting for my question, but I couldn’t find the words.  I was about to ask an old, conservative, hispanic, catholic woman, how to make a Bald Beaver.  This couldn’t be happening.

“I need that Bald Beaver, ma’am! Ma’am!” shouted the orderer.

“Rosa, how do you make a B…a Bal, bald b-b-b-b-beaver!”

“Que, mija?” she responded, walking over to me.  Our back facing the madness of open-bar gluttons, I was about to ask her how to make the Bald Beaver in question, when she started gossiping about the bride, again.

“Did you see her, mija?  She had the tattoo on her shoulder and her baby on her hip- did you see?!”

“I did.  Awful, truly.  Hey, how do you make a Bald Beaver, Rosa?”

“Oh! Easy, mija, watch-” and just like that, we had gone from morals and ethics, to Bald Beavers.

WHERE AM I?!

The DJ- who I swear to you played “Cupid Shuffle” at least six times throughout the course of the evening- announced the groom and mother’s first dance.  Finally, a moment of peace.

The crowd parted making way for the two to dance.  I immediately ran through songs from previous weddings, placing my bets on what the song would be.  I decided that based on the crowd, it would be a country song.  Rosa and I leaned up against the bar for a better view, hushing the sexually charged drink orders.

“Shhh! They’re going to dance- show some respect,” snapped Rosa.  The crowd calmed a bit as the DJ cued up the song.

“I bet you it’s a country song, Rosa,” I whispered.  She smiled, scrunching her nose in excitement.

The music began, and I had lost the bet.  It was not country, but a Disney song.  And, why would a mother and her son two-step, when they could bump and grind to “I Can Show You The World”?

I was horrified, as was Rosa.  Suddenly, whipping up three Blue Balls for a bar patron sounded not only classy, but normal.  This was truly a whole new world.

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The Hot(el) Files: The Bowlers.


Nothings hurts more than having to open a bar after a long night of drinking.  Senses are heightened beyond those of a pregnant woman.  Smells can be immobilizing, and the texture of a maraschino cherry is enough to make you hurl something you ate in the 4th grade.  This particular morning, was one of these mornings.

I met my co-worker in the lobby, both of us hissing at the sun as we hid behind our sunglasses; our livers spring-loaded and our hearts pumping more Manhattans than blood.  We drug our feet to Ballroom 1, and found an excessively perky concierge gingerly sliding a paper into the slot next to the door that read, “Welcome Regional Bowling Convention.”  Immediately, I perked up.

You see, The Big Lebowski is one of my all-time favorite movies and was about to be surrounded by hundreds of them.  With this in mind, I sent the bar back to fetch plenty half and half in anticipation for the wave of white Russians (aka Caucasians) I would make.  Although my mood perked, my hangover was still more than present.  The thought of drinking made my skin ripple.

I was setting up the bar -holding each bottle an arm’s length away from my face- when I saw the door across the ballroom swing open. I popped my head up to see who was coming in and did a double take.

“Do you see that?” I asked my co-worker.

“See what?” he asked.

“Do you see what’s walking over to us?”

We both slowly straightened our posture and focused our eyes on what we both thought was a man in a bowling pin costume.  As he got closer to the bar, we realized that the man was genetically pre-disposed to bowl, as his body was shaped like a pin…a six-foot pin.  We confused the color scheme of a bowling pin, with the glory of his fashion sense: a white satin shirt with a large red belt and white loose-fit jeans.

“Oh, wow-” uttered my co-worker, as the giant bowling pin approached the bar.

“Good morning!” I squeaked, attempting to sound perky and inviting.  “What can I get you, sir?”

The giant bowling pin set both of his hands (each the size of frying pans) upon the bar and gasped for air.  I suppose bowlers never really have to walk terribly far nor fast to the bowling alley bar.  As he caught his breath, he slowly picked his head up to speak.  Given his spacially-dominant presence, I was expecting a deeper voice than the one that hop-scotched out of his mouth.

“Dear God!” he chirped.  Pinocchio? Is that you? I asked myself. “This has been such a sssssstressful morning.  I need a drink-”

And without skipping a beat proceeded to order the most diabetic-inducing mixture.

“I’ll take a mango Malibu Sea Breeze, extra cherries.”

My jaw dropped and I quickly bowed my head pretending to look for what I knew we didn’t have: Malibu.  I could see my co-worker trembling, trying to contain his laughter.  There was no way he was going to be able to respond to the giant bowling pin, which meant I had to.  I took a deep breath, proving to be a horrible idea as the giant bowling pin had bathed in what must have been moth balls and Cool Water.  I refrained from gagging and popped up like a piece of toast from a toaster.

“Sorry, sir, but we don’t seem to have any mango Malibu today.”

“Oh! Don’t you worry you sweet thang you- regular Malibu will be fine,” he sung.

“Ah, you see, we don’t seem to have that either, sir.  May I interest you in something else?” I proposed.

“Gee, let me get an amaretto sour instead.”

“Goodness, you are going to hate me!  We weren’t stocked with amaretto this morning.  Third one’s the charm though…” as I awaited his next request.  The top of the giant bowling pin was beginning to furrow.  I don’t believe he’s ever had to think of a third option before…this was about to get interesting.

“Ok, let me get Liquid Marijuana-” he ordered, confidently.

Familiar with this concoction that contrary to actual marijuana, should be illegal I asked that he refresh my memory of its contents.

“Oh, it’s yummy.  It’s equal parts: Capitan Morgan, blue Curaçao, Midori and pineapple juice, with extra cherries for me.”

I was officially tending to a humongous hummingbird.

The poor giant bowling pin’s eyes were wide with anticipation as I pretended to look for ingredients that only a sweet-sixteen birthday party is stocked for.  I pulled the jar of maraschino cherries and the box of pineapple juice and smiled.

“I have two parts of it?”

He dropped his head between his frying-pan hands and sighed.  The guy was having a rough day and it was only 11:00a.m..  I turned to look at my coworker, who had taken to avidly jamming bottles of beer into ice buckets to avoid this interaction.  I looked back at the giant bowling pin, his head still dropped in defeat.  Starring at his balding head, a pop of color from behind his neck caught my eye.  I took a step to my left and leaned to find that the pop of color was in fact an electric purple and white scrunchie, slowly sliding down the two-dozen hairs it was desperately trying to hold.

Suddenly, the giant bowling pin’s head popped up with a near joker smile.

“I got it!” he chirped, “I’ll have a cherry coke and rum!  You do have that, don’t you?”

Afraid to deny him yet another drink, I nodded and proceeded to pour a pint glass a third full of maraschino juice, 1 oz of rum and top it with coke.  I garnished the diabetes- I mean, drink with a straw and cherry and glided my hand towards his.  The giant bowling pin’s eyes widened and his face lit up as though the heaven’s had parted and shone upon this celestial moment.  A rendition of  The Creation; a pint of red 40 and coke between our hands.

Thanking me like a child would Santa Claus on Christmas morning, he took his first sip and moaned with satisfaction.  His eyes locked with the pint glass like a pig to a trough.  Perhaps it was the maraschino cherry juice, but his face began to regain color.  He lifted his head up, his face punch-drunk with love as he seductively asked for extra cherries.

As I filled a shot glass with the only fruit that will survive nuclear fall-out, the giant bowling pin asked how our day was going so far.  We made small conversation about the weather and the excitement of the holidays ahead and the possibility of making loads of white Russians for this convention.

“White Russians?” questioned the giant bowling pin.

“Yeah, you know, Caucasians.  You’ve seen The Big Lebowski, right?” I asked.

“Oh honey, White Russians are soooooo cliché!” he remarked, spun around and waddled his way back across the ballroom.

I looked at my coworker in complete disappointment.  Sooooo cliché?  I asked him, as we both stood in shock.  We looked at the bar we had set up; rows of light domestic beers, plenty of vodka, Crown Royal and half and half  and the only cordial being Kaluhua.  The first 15 minutes of our shift had already proven that our assumptions of bowlers, were completely inaccurate.

“Something tells me we may not have properly stocked for this crowd,” I commented.

“You think?” mocked my coworker.

Damn you, Lebowski!

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