(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!