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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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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 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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The Hot(el) Files: La Quinceañera


Pardon?  What’s that you say?  I’m sorry, I cannot hear you.  You see, I catered a Quinceañera the other night and don’t remember if it was the Ranchero band’s trumpet player, or the lime green-ostrich leather elfin cowboy boot (with matching belt) that punctured my right ear drum.  I also sustained serious psychological trauma, so please, speak loudly through the glass and into my left ear.  Thank you.

***CAUTION:  The following content is of crude and wanton nature.  Please be seated, have parental/spousal supervision and keep a stiff drink beside you.  Reader discretion is advised.***

My therapist says I should always start from the beginning:

My restaurant recently agreed to help out another business in town with a little predicament: loss of a liquor license.  It’s not an indefinite dilemma, simply the result of faulty paperwork resulting in a period of time whereby this particular establishment, has no liquor license.  To assist in such a pinch, my boss- a kind-hearted and good willed man- loaned his picnic liquor license to the cause.  This means that at least one of our bartenders must be present at all times.  I was one of the lucky ones to help out in this act of philanthropy.

What did I get in return?  Physical tourrettes, inexplicable crying fits, jaw-drop (prompted by a visual cue), borderline schizofrenic-paranoia, and I have chewed through my finger and toe nails.  The worst part?  This wasn’t just a one time deal.  I have worked three of these and there are (hopefully only) 5 more to go.  I’ve started to pull out my hair and can’t seem to get my eyes to stop bulging.

Ready or not, here we WHORE! I mean, go:

I never know what kind of event I am catering, until I arrive at the establishment.  On this particular occasion, it happened to be a Quinceañera.  Having lived for quite some time in Latin America, I attended many a Quinceañera.  That being said, I was quite excited about bartending for this event.

For those of you unfamiliar with a Quinceañera, it is essentially the Latin American version of a debutant ball.  A girl, on her 15th birthday, becomes a lady and is introduced to a society of potential suitors.  There’s food, drink, dance and a special dance for the Quinceañera with a few the hand selected prospects.  A classy affair…typically.

I walked into the grand ballroom and stopped dead in my tracks, nearly certain that I had mistakenly walked into Barney’s colon.  It was wall to wall and ceiling to floor, purple.  Not even different hues of purple, but Barney the goddamn dinosaur, purple. Everywhere.

The manager of the establishment snapped me out of my catatonia and led me to the bar.  I slowly set up the bar as I watched the ballroom somehow accumulate more purple decor.  A purple stenciled light shown on the dance floor with the Quinceañera’s
initials.  A projector screen adjusted the focus of a photo, with a purple-flowered border.  Purple cocktail napkins with a photo of the Quinceañera’s face and birth date, were handed to me.  Purple feather boas wired into hearts were placed as centerpieces on the already purple satin table cloths, and in the corner, a purple spotlight shown on the band doing their sound checks.  Short of serving “purple drink” as the signature cocktail, I was certain that the Quinceañera was Violet Beauregarde, from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

The Quinceañera arrived and to my complete and utter disappointment, she was just a girl from the south valley.

Traditionally, the Quinceañera wears a white dress; a sort of audition for a wedding dress.  She wore a white-ruffled cream puff lined with purple satin and carried the theme of the room on her upper eyelids, electric purple (to set off the color of royal purple no doubt). Her eyebrows were painted on and her (with at least a foot of extensions) was nearly scotch-guarded in perfect curls, revealing the evident use of a single-barrel curling iron.  Corset in place, her premature b-cup cleavage was over-shadowed by the slump of her shoulders.  Clearly, the poor girl had never shown that much skin before and was uncomfortable exposing it.

To my surprise, the guests were arriving quickly and the band was still doing sound checks.  Given their attire- tight white cargo pants, white cowboy shirts, purple cowboy hats (as per the Quinceañera I’m sure) and punctuated with rhinestone belts and cowboy boots- I gathered that a Ranchero band was hired for the evening.  The band posed and adjusted the spotlights to ensure that the glimmer of the rhinestones was maximized.  When the light was just right, they stood in Magnum PI fashion and had one of the servers take a photo.  “Aye si huevon!  I’m putting it ahora directo en el Facebook. No mames, guey!”

The food was placed in chafing dishes and the guests were lining up.  They lined up, sat down, ate and served themselves thirds before the band was through sound checking.  No one seemed to mind, but I couldn’t help mentally reiterating the amount the event cost: $14,000.  For a band that was sound-checking throughout dinner and a cash bar?  No, thank you.

The band finally started as the buffet was broken down.  For the amount of time it took them to set up, I assumed I was in for a real treat.  An import of Grammy caliber Ranchero straight from Guadalajara!  Again, to my disappointment, they were from the south valley too.  Their trumpets began, and the keyboardist started pounding on the keys like a toddler.  How horrible they were wasn’t nearly as shocking as how loud they were.  My hair was originally straight and down, and somehow was now in a wind tunnel, blown straight back.  The saxophonist picked up his instrument, played about 5 notes and set it down.  What happened next is arguably the tap-root to my current diagnosable situation.

My eyes squinted as I tried to watch the band.  I struggled with a glaring light that I couldn’t seem to avoid.  The bartender I was working with that night pinpointed the source at the same time I did, and both of our jaws, dropped.  The saxophonist  had pulled his pants up making the bulge of his pants, more noticeable.  He was jumping up and down while hyper air-humping and grinding upon a stuffed-animal horse.  Sweating profusely, he reached for a towel and wiped his sexually generated sweat off his face.   The saxophonist then picked up a glass of what was sure to be cocaine-infused spanish fly, drank it all, and continued molesting the stuffed-animal horse.

I was snapped out of my disgust by a dozen boys asking for “eshirley tamples”.  As I poured out half a bottle of grenadine into six glasses, I observed the youth’s attire.  At first, I thought that they too were with the band.  They all wore elaborately embroidered cowboy shirts with jeans so tight, they could be considered jeggings.  For those wearing cowboy hats, they always matched their belts and cowboy boots.  Mostly ostrich leather in naturally occurring colors like neon pink, sky blue and lime green.

But these cowboy boots weren’t made for walking, but skiing.  Their toes must have only reached the first third of the boot, and the remaining two-thirds resembled an elfin-shoe designer line, jetting out and curling back over the foot.  Short of the bell dangling from the tip, I was certain that these were Mexican elves.

The saxophonists visual raping subsided and they announced the Quinceañera’s dance.  Brassy Mexican ballads thundered out of the speakers as the purple cream puff was escorted by six boys in (you guessed it) purple zoot suits.  The chains from their belts clinked together as they each awkwardly danced the Quinceañera around the dance floor.  Suddenly, the music stopped and the Quinceañera ripped off her dress, revealing a glorified negligee as a dozen men rushed the floor breaking into a choreographed dance number to “Lean Like a Cholo”.

I couldn’t believe how sexual a 15th birthday party was becoming.  No one would believe me- I needed witnesses.  I quickly text my fiance and one of my best friends and urged that they rush down here, sign the guest book and crash this Quinceañera.  I sent the text shortly before I dropped my phone in sheer horror.

They were entering by the dozens.  Escorts.  I didn’t think that this was part of the tradition, but perhaps a family touch?  Dozens of these escorts in mini skirts and tiny shirts, fish net stalkings and red faux-suede platform ankle boots, were making their way in.  The unmistakable reek of cheap perfume flooded the room with notes of Aquanet radiating from their bump-it hairdos.  I took a step back as one approached my bar.  She leaned in and asked for a “eshirley tample”.  It was only then, did my horror evolve into atrocity when I realized that these weren’t escorts, but 14-15 year old girls.

I looked around to find that they were all linked up with the elfin cowboys; some their fathers, others their crushes and nearly certain that in some cases, both.  The microphone fed-back a nasty shrill, accompanied by an accordion to grasp the attention of the now 300 person audience.  The spanish cowboy jumped about the stage as the rest of the band searched for the Quinceañera
for “algo especial”.  They placed a chair (yes, a purple one), in the center of the dance floor as the band members surrounded her.

The sexually charged band member jumped off the stage and air-humped his way over to the Quinceañera. He signaled for the DJ to play a song, and before I knew it he had his cowboy heels on her shoulders, thrusting his junk closer and closer to her face. He did a flip and stepped to the side to let the next band member put his member directly on her chest, as the other two band members dipped the chair backward.  Just in time to share my trauma, my fiance and best friend showed up stopping dead in their tracks.

My co-worker, fiance, best friend and I stood in silence.  What we were witnessing resembled a show in Vegas for a bachelorette more so than an adolescent birthday party.  Our jaws dropped in complete shock and to our horror, were the parents of Quinceañera clapping and laughing.  Where were we?  Surely there were candid cameras in the corners, but where?  In the purple chandelier?  Or perhaps the band’s rhinestone belts were actually micro cameras because this couldn’t be real.

The band got louder, the attendees got younger and the girls’ dresses got tighter and mysteriously shorter.  I looked around the room to find that there were now 8 security guards.  One of them was standing next to me at the bar and was radioed a message.  He quickly abandoned his station and bolted to the kitchen returning with latex gloves, two security guards following suit.  They dashed out the side door and I popped my head out to see what all the commotion was about.  The door opened up to the side of the building where the band’s massive tour bus was parked (it too adorned with rhinestone accessories), and in the distance I saw what looked like low flying shooting stars, jetting across the parking lot.

“What’s going on over there?” I asked a security guard standing at the side door.

“Panties, all kinds-” he responded.

“Panties?  As in under ware?” I asked.

“Yup.  Mad panties being thrown over there.”

Dios. Fucking. Mio.  Fourteen and 15-year-old girls were taking off their panties and flinging them across the parking lot!  One security came running towards us, his hands full with glittery thongs.

I popped back inside to find the band was still molesting the stuffed animal horse, and decided it was time to break down.  About 20 minutes premature, but after being visually accosted, psychologically degraded and throughly shocked to my core, it wasn’t for a few more “eshirley tamples” and a collective $10 in tips, that was going to make our night worthwhile.  My fiance and best friend left (encountering their own cultural experience upon their exit) and my coworker and I closed down the bar single-handedly; one hand plugging an ear and the other packing up bottles.

My vision began to blur as the bass got louder, the reek of Aquanet got stronger and the tension of brimming adolescent sexuality flooded the room.  I loaded up a cart full of boxes and made my way through the teenage crowd trying not to accidentally catch a glimpse at a butt cheek pouring out a skirt, or an elfin cowboy boot in the eye.  After signing off on inventory, I walked to my car and sat in silence for a solid 20 minutes.  My hands were white from how tightly I was holding myself and the leather seats creaked with my uncontrollable rocking.  I couldn’t hear anything but the yips and cries of the band, and the thumping bass that I am sure my heart now erratically beats to (furthering my current anxiety).

All I could think about was reenacting Jim Carrey’s shower scene in Ace Ventura: burning my uniform whilst taking a hot shower (in acetone) desperately plunging at my eyes, for they have seen too much.  I felt fragile, vulnerable and just putrid.  That night, I lost part of my soul.

I drove away in deep thought, wondering what the same group of girls might be expecting 9 months from now.

For a musical understanding of the demographic I was up against, watch:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ttqjhBijI8

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Is That Locally Grown?


At my place of employment, we strive to promote the culinary philosophy spearheaded by the likes of Michael Pollan, Joe Salatin, John Jeavons and of course, Alice Waters.  This philosophy is none other than the Farm-to-Table movement.  The basis of this philosophy is that one’s food should reflect one’s surroundings and be provided (to a maximum) by local farmers and proveyors.  Food, therefore, becomes an educative forum in which the presenter (chef or server), can inform the consumer (diner), exactly where their food came from, and the benefits that come with supporting local farmers.  A philosophy intended to fully use the pun: Consumable Education.

The beauty of Farm-to-Table dining is that depending on your locale, food varies.  In the high deserts of New Mexico, local produce provides the following bounty: corn, squash, beans, chili, peppers, tomatoes, leafy greens, onions, carrots, beets, apples, raspberries etc…

As I mentioned before, the restaurant I work in prides itself on supporting this philosophy.  We as servers and bartenders, are educated thoroughly in the origins of the ingredients we serve, and inform our diners every chance we get.  This brings us to my story.

(Thank you for your patience.  Although, the prefacing is necessary for some.)

It was an ordinary lunch shift; 30 couverts on the books (to finish with 120), the kitchen chopping their prep to the tempo heavy metal, the servers polishing their stations while drinking coffee while I set up the bar.  One of the cooks paged the waitstaff and we all convened at the kitchen line to note the day’s specials.

“Alright, today’s soup is going to be a green chili and chicken chowder garnished with tortilla strips- the chilis are local,” began the cook, “today’s catch is going to be grilled King salmon over a cumin seed rice, topped with local, organic bell peppers and squash and finished with a poblano-pineapple vinaigrette.”

After jotting the final ingredients, one server confirmed that the poblanos in the vinaigrette were indeed local.

“Where else do you suppose they grow poblanos, huh?” the cook smirked as he turned to blare the heavy metal and continued chopping.  Service started and I was seated a six-top.  I waked over to greet my diners and went about my usual five-part routine: greet, drink, specials, questions, order.  I zipped over to the wait station and poured six iced teas and returned to the table.

As I was set each iced tea before each guest, I began part three, reciting the specials.  “So, we have a few specials to complicate your decision today-” I began, always provoking a giggle.  I breezed through our soup du jour and our crepe du jour and was well into the catch of the day.

“Grilled King salmon over a cumin seed rice, served with local, organic squash and bell peppers and a poblano-pineapple vinaigrette.  I’ll let you all mentally digest the specials and be right back to take your orders.”

The table spoke amongst themselves for a few minutes, as the do, and when the last menu shut, I walked over to instate part four of my routine: questions.  “Do we have any questions on the menu?” I asked, assuming that there wouldn’t be any as the specials weren’t terribly complicated today.  But, there was one question.

“Yes, I have one.  On the catch of the day, the vinaigrette- is that locally grown?” he asked.  Assuming that he was referencing the poblanos, I responded.

“Oh, goodness!  I forgot to highlight that too.  Indeed, the poblanos are locally grown, in the north valley area,” I responded.

“Right, I figured that.  But the other part of it-” he inquired, “Is it local?”

“What, the pineapple?” I asked, confused.

“Yeah, is it?” he inquired.  Assuming he was absolutely joking, I started to giggle and looked at the other diners, waiting for them to join me.

They didn’t.

They were all looking at me like second graders, wide-eyed and eagerly awaiting the answer.  My giggle devolved into an awkward chuckle when I realized, holy shit- this guy is serious.

“The pineapple?” I squeaked.

“Is it local, too? he asked, again.  There I was, once again, giggling away.  I looked outside to see the chamisa bushes and aspen trees; pure evidence that we are not in the tropics and not even Monsanto could engineer such a thing.  This only made containing my laughter harder.  Yet, clearly this guy had no idea.  He must think that pineapples grow on pine trees.  I looked at the man whose eyes were still as curious.  I decided to have a little fun.

I answered, deadpan, “Why, yes.  Yes they are.”

 

“Oh, sure!  The pineapple is also New Mexico’s state flower, Governor, bird and motto: “Pineapple.”  

 -Fellow Server.

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Filed under Humor, Restaurant, Uncategorized