Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thirsty Thursday: Pali Blue Breeze (New Cocktail)

Another request for a custom cocktail inspired this tropical delight, made with the ocean and its salty sweetness in mind.

2 ounces Malibu rum
1 ounce vodka
1 ounce Rose's Blue Raspberry Mix
2-3 ounces pina colada mix
Splash coconut milk
Tablespoon each of organic salt and sugar
1 cup of ice

Step 1: fill blender with 1 cup of ice

Step 2: pour each ingredient into blender and mix

Step 3: mix the salt and sugar together for a "sandy" effect

Step 4: moisten the rim of the glass and then dip into salt/sugar combo

Step 5: pour blended mixture into glass and garnish with a pineapple or orange slice

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tell It Tuesdays: Freeman's | NYC

Restaurant:  Freeman’s
Location: 191 Chrystie Street #2F
New York, NY 10002

Drink Damage: Cocktail | $12, Pino Grigio | $10, Tom’s Tonic w/Gin

Interior Swag: Romantic setting down a clandestine alleyway. Warm and lively atmosphere with strange but clever taxidermy wall d├ęcor. Tables were a little close together, in fact we heard our neighbor’s entire conversation without even trying to.

Service: Incredible service. Friendly but not overbearing.

Food & Drink: We enjoyed drinks at the intimate bar in the back room before being seated at our table. Food was delicious.

Go-Back-Again-Ness: If I find myself in New York City in the near future, I won’t hesitate to go there again!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday Manners: Rule #22

Rule #22: Ten Do's and Don'ts of Opening Wine

1. Always take the metallic seal completely off the wine bottle. The wine should only come in contact with the lip of the bottle as it flows into the glass.

2. If the top of the cork is discolored or moldy or damp, air has likely seeped into the bottle and the wine is no longer good. If a party brought their own bottle of wine in, alert them to the possible damage and suggest a tasting of the wine if there is resistance to throwing it away.

3. If it's proving difficult to pull the cork out of a bottle, don't, for the love of God, but the bottle between your thighs in an effort to get a better grip.

4. When using one of those push and pull bottle openers that clamps to the bar, place it in a spot that does not face a bar stool. Because in my experience, sometimes the cork is shoved into the bottle, spraying large quantities of wine onto one unlucky patron sitting in one unfortunate spot.

5. Don't touch the bottle opening with your hands. Ever.

6. If cork has broken off into the bottle, offer to decanter the wine with a filter.

7. Carry a bar towel or fabric napkin with you to catch drips when pouring.

8. Speed is everything. When you take a long time to open a bottle of wine, people get nervous.

9. Invest in a few good wine openers. When you're opening dozens of bottles a night, a cheap opener will give you calluses, bend, break, fall apart, slow you down, or whatever else you can think of that may ruin your night

10. Sometimes customers like to show off and may ask to open their own bottle of wine. Let 'em. Only two things can happen. 1) He'll screw it up and you'll save the day  2) He'll do a beautiful job and love you for allowing him to look so good

Friday, March 25, 2011

Non-Fiction Friday: I Didn't Cry When

Written by Guest Blogger Caroline Helper

I never thought I was a cryer until I worked in a restaurant. I was working at a very la-di-dah restaurant in a wealthy neighborhood in Los Angeles that was known for its beautiful back patio, high prices, and excellent food.

The general manager was a temperamental Brit, a little rough around the edges yet even more charming for it. When he turned it on, he emanated the kind of easy charisma that made you want nothing more than to be the source of his smile. Of course the accent didn’t hurt and his tendency towards swift and unexpected changes of mood made him seem a little dangerous, which, of course, never hurts either.

The Chef was even more mercurial. He could transform from a slick-as-oil cool-stoner into a raging beast faster than even the most beleagured PMS sufferers and provoked by far less.

One very busy evening he stopped running his kitchen for a few minutes to launch a tirade against me, in front of the majority of the staff, for carrying an armful of toilet paper rolls through the kitchen (a route that involved a quick 5-foot dash to the ladies room and which I took in lieu of through the dining room). That little incident did not make me cry.

Nor did I cry the time the GM insisted I go to the drugstore to buy some deodorant on a swelteringly hot August afternoon.

I didn’t cry when the brand new printer in the office jammed and Chef blamed it on me, banned me from touching the machine, and berated me for being stupid while questioning my attendance at a four-year university that happened to rival his alma mater.

I didn’t cry when an unhappy guest took to Yelp to air her complaints against yours truly. I didn’t cry when the GM made me stand in his office as he read aloud the review that bemoaned my attempts to accommodate the author’s seating preferences by showing her and her date three different tables on a busy summer night. I did not cry while I tried to point out that the review made the author sound like a spoiled Goldilocks (this table was too cold, this table was too quiet, this table was too far, and on and on).

I didn’t cry when one night, all of a sudden, the GM decided a shirt I had on was not right. I did not cry as I stood in front of the entire wait staff at their pre-shift meeting and was told that a shirt I’d worn many nights previously without comment, was suddenly inappropriate and in poor taste (it was a gauzy button down in a black and white print that I wore over a camisol).

I finally cried when, on an unusually busy night, I was yelled at for doing the cocktail server’s job. The hostess stand was in the front of the restaurant, where there was also a long bar and lounge area. I was on my own at the end of the night, when the bar scene suddenly picked up and swelled so large that the singular cocktail server was swept under – servicing her tables as best she could on her own. She was a friend and I liked to help her out when I could on busy nights – taking drink and food orders for tables that she couldn’t get to. Just in front of the hostess stand was a couch of ladies who frantically beckoned me to their table and brought their empty cocktail glasses to my attention.

The women, acting betrayed exasperated and beyond annoyed, claimed they had been waiting for their server to come by “for like an hour” (it had been more like 15 minutes since she’d placed the now-empty glasses in front of them) and demanded that I bring them some new drinks. Of course Chef had happened to walk up to the hostess stand just as the women waved me over, as he had a habit of doing towards the end of the night, when the kitchen was shutting down. He watched as I explained to the ladies, with my back to him and a smile on my face, that the cocktail server is on her own and sometimes it takes her a minute to come back around but I would be happy to put in their order and what would they like.

As I walked back towards the bar to put in the orders, Chef grabbed me and asked me to recount the goings-on between me and the guests. I didn’t cry when he called me a liar in my version of events – from where he was standing I had been unendingly unaccommodating even as I tried to make my way towards appeasing the miffed guests.

I didn’t cry when, as chef was verbally abusing me at the front door, in front of guests, a couple walked up and asked for a table. I told them I’d go have a table set up and turned to stop at the bar to place the ladies’ drink order (still not put in on account of Chef’s tirade) on my way back to setting the table. This time Chef stopped me to demand why I’d lied again –this time to the guest at the front. Why on earth would I tell them I was setting their table and then go to the bar instead? Multi-tasking was not the right answer. And when I finally dropped the drinks off at the thirsty ladies’ table, 15 minutes later, and they demanded to speak to a manager, I didn’t cry then, either.

I finally cried when I was called in for a meeting with the GM and Chef. I cried as I accused them of verbal abuse, I cried as I demanded an apology, and I cried as I refused to accept blame for doing some else’s job, and I cried as I defended myself against being called a liar. I cried after the meeting was over, behind the restaurant I shook with loud wailing sobs that wouldn’t stop coming. 

For more of Caroline's writing follow her at OR on Twitter @ForgetBurgundy

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thirsty Thursday: The Junior (New Cocktail)

Crafted specially for a local Los Angeles women's club, this drink captures the member's sweetness and strength at the same time.

Squeeze of lime
Squeeze of lemon
Squeeze of orange
Splash of cranberry juice
Splash of triple sec
3 ounces peach flavored vodka

Step 1: Slice a lemon, lime,  and orange. Squeeze one wedge of lemon and one wedge of lime into martini shaker. Measure out half an ounce of cranberry juice and pour into shaker.

Step 2: Slice orange and squeeze into shaker. Cut off a long piece for a twist garnish and set aside.

Step 3: Pour in 3 ounces of Absolut Peach vodka
Step 4: Pour in a splash to half an ounce of triple sec

Step 5: Shake hard and strain into a chilled martini glass
Step 6: Garnish with an orange twist

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday Manners: Rule #113

Rule #113: Don't Publicly Gossip About Celebrities

In our book, "This Girl Walks Into a Bar," I continually stress how beneficial your relationships with your regulars can potentially be. Celebrities included. If a star sits down to have a drink, and acts strangely or drinks too much or doesn't tip what you think a celebrity should tip, don't pick up the phone for TMZ or PerezHilton It's an unclassy and selfish move. Instead, cultivate a friendship with that famous face. You never know how you will be rewarded for your class and confidentiality.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Non-Fiction Friday: 5 Ways To Tell It's St. Patrick's Day

5 Ways To Tell It’s St Patrick’s Day
By Guest Writer Phil Green

Now I’ve been living in Ireland for the past 8 months and am about to experience my first truly Irish St Patrick’s Day, but it won’t be my first ever. Whilst away travelling I had a lot of Irish friends, as well as an Irish girlfriend and being someone who has worked in bars for most of my adult life I noticed a few things about a day that revolves around drinking.

1. There Will Be A Queue Outside The Pub/Bar Before It Opens
Yes, on this day and this day only it is socially acceptable to act in the same way as the bums, alcoholics and wasters. Those that would normally be the first customers in the pub each day with their dole or pension money at the ready are joined by the rest of the Irish population waiting to get absolutely wasted.

2. Everyone Will Be Wearing Stupid Promotional Guinness Gear
Big tall hats with the Guinness logo on and ginger beards attached and big badges with slogans such as ‘kiss my clover’ will be going around. Most people will be wearing these for a bit of fun, but there will be a few who think they actually look good. Keep away from these people.

3. Everybody Suddenly Becomes Irish
Even though the guy standing next to you in the bar is from Thailand and has never left his country before now- even he, somehow, has Irish roots. This is what everyone fools themselves in to thinking on Paddy’s Day and will proudly proclaim to anyone willing to listen. Is it the fact that they're jealous of the way the Irish proudly embrace their patron saint’s day and make use of it? Probably, but they’ll never admit it.

4. You Will Need To Stock Up On Irish Booze
Got Jameson’s behind the bar? Serve Guinness on tap? If your bar is serving Irish imported booze then it’s going to be hit hard. Going back to point 3, part of everybody needing to feel like their Irish means sticking to the Irish liquor and with so many people out using the day as a hall pass for intoxication you’ll need plenty of reserve stock!

5. People Will Get Themselves Completely Wasted
Although this is an obvious one I feel it needs mentioning. In my experience St Patrick’s Day isn’t just a day of drinking; it’s a day when people get so drunk they are being carried home at 2pm in the afternoon. Last year my girlfriend couldn’t even stand up straight at 5pm and we hadn’t even left the house at that point. The fact that the next day is still a work day won’t matter to the masses; they will be out in force acting as though this is the one day of the year that booze will be available.

So, you’ve been warned! Although most people reading this will actually be part of the crowd committing at least a couple of the points above. Still, spare a moment's thought for those of us working on this day and dealing with the aftermath, although I don’t think even St Patrick himself will be able to help us.

Visit Phil Green's Website at or follow him on Twitter @TravelFoodPhil

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Thirsty Thursday: The Lucky Martini

This cocktail fits right in with St. Patrick's Day and couldn't be easier to make. Choose your favorite martini vodka and garnish with a thinly sliced bell pepper. Simple to make and promisingly lucky.

3 ounces vodka (I used Absolut Peppar)
Sliced green bell pepper to garnish

Step 1: Select a green bell pepper with four indents on the outside

Step 2: Thinly slice off the bottom until you are satisfied with the clover shape

Step 3: Make you favorite martini (we chose Absolut Peppar for this one)

Step 4: Put a small slice in between two of the "leaves" and place on rim

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tell it Tuesdays: Sonny McLean's | Santa Monica

Restaurant:  Sonny McLean's | Santa Monica 
Location: 2615 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90403

Interior Swag: Most Irish pubs have so much natural charm that streaming flimsy plastic four-leaf clovers across the room in a hundred directions isn't necessary. That free flair from the beer and liquor companies is only acceptable for supermarkets and airport bars. I'm hoping Sonny hung it up only for the St. Patty's Day rookies who otherwise may not be able to identify an Irish pub from a hole in the wall if there was a Leprechaun dancing out in front.

Service: Love a bartender who knows her beers. I couldn't stay too long and she took care of my order and bill quickly.

Food & Drink: Similar to the Mexican food I've had in Canada and the Chinese cuisine I've eaten in Mexico, a fantastic Irish pub meal in Los Angeles is yet to be found (let me know if you've discovered one). This afternoon I opted to skip the food and count my beer as the afternoon snack. But the beer was perfect. I asked for the darkest beer they had and she poured me a 16 ounce glass of Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout. It was heavenly.

Go-Back-Again-Ness: Let's just say I'm still on a quest to find that perfect Irish Los Angeles.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday Manners: Rule #15

Rule #15: Guidelines for Drinking on the Job

Don't drink if there is a no tolerance policy
Do drink if you've whipped up an original on the spot and need to take a sample
Don't drink if some dude just wants to impress the bar crowd by buying you one
Do drink if some dude wants to buy the entire bar crowd a round, you included
Don't drink if it will impair you from doing your job well
Do drink if it has been a bitch of a night and a shot will get you through it the rest of it
Don't drink if you are closing the bar alone
Do drink if your boss permits you accepting the offer from customers. You can always bill for it then and drink it later
Don't drink if it will make your customers wonder why you're having a better time than they are
Do drink if your boss thinks it's good for business
Don't drink if you can't hold your liquor
Do drink to be familiar with what you sell
Most importantly, never do anything you don't want to do!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Non-Fiction Friday: Don't Be The Hero

When I bartended at a four star beach front hotel, a couple in a luxury suite ordered a bottle of Belvedere to their room, along with mixers, garnishes, and several glasses. Our lobby bar supplied the goods, room service took care of the rest. This wasn't an unusual order, as bottle service has become more and more popular over the years, even for parties behind closed doors.

As far as we know, the party went off without a hitch. There were no complaints from other guests of unruly behavior or loud music. The furniture was left intact. Their bill was paid upon check-out the next morning. But there was one little problem. They left the bottle of Belvedere in the room with a note that said they decided not to use it after all, seal broken.

House keeping brought the bottle to us, suspicious. Yes, the seal was broken, but the bottle was full.
Our colleagues said it smelled like alcohol, and they were right about that. But when the bar staff pulled out the cork to smell the contents, it was obvious that this was not vodka.

In my opinion the broken seal was enough to bill that couple for the bottle, without any explanation needed. You open it, you pay for it. But another girl I worked with thought we should be 100% sure that it hadn't been accidently opened. The rest of us said it wasn't necessary but she insisted.

She poured a few drops into a shot glass, and drank the foreign substance. I don't know what she was trying to prove exactly. It's not like we were going to use it anyway. Right away, she confirmed for us that it was not vodka. More like rubbing alcohol she thought.  We dumped out the bottle, made sure it was on the guest's bill, and went about our business. But not our fellow employee. She got so sick she ran to the bathroom about a dozen times in about an hour, and then asked to be sent home. When she came back the next day, she seemed fine. I was afraid to ask.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thirsty Thursday: The Sinful Girl Scout

I can't stop myself. Every year I over-order the Girl Scout cookies, and am faced with eating them all or banishing them to the trash bin. This year, I decided to get a little more mileage out of these guilty pleasures by making an alcohol drink (for the 21 and over crowd of course). This is a perfect sunny afternoon treat, or a yummy evening dessert.

Ingredients (this drink allows for plenty of improvisation. Be creative!)
Handful of Girl Scout cookies
3 small scoops of ice cream
2 ounces Bailey's
2 ounces vodka
1.5 ounces half n' half

Step 1: Bring out the cookies
Step 2: Scoop out 2-3 small servings of vanilla ice cream (or your favorite)

Step 3
: Measure 2 ounces of Bailey's, or some other creamy liquor
Step 4: Measure 2 ounces of vodka
Step 5: Measure 1.5 to 2 ounces of half n' half or milk

Step 6: Put all of the ingredients into the blender and mix at high speed
Step 7: Service in a clear glass for full layering benefits
Step 8: Serve with a green straw

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tell it Tuesdays: Ponce's Mexican Restaurant | San Diego

Restaurant:  Ponce's Mexican Restaurant     
Location: 4050 Adams Avenue
San Diego, CA 92116

Drink Damage: Margarita | $6

Interior Swag: Somewhere I have a family picture taken from the 80's in this restaurant, when it looked a heck of a lot different than it does now. This old amazing hole-in-the-wall has been replaced with wall-to-wall funky art, loud music, and killer drinks. And I'm not going to complain about it. Ponce's has grown up with its neighborhood, attracting a steady stream of people for its incredible food and lively atmosphere.

Ponce'sService: I miss the bubbly waitresses with the off the shoulder blouses and ruffled skirts that worked there for decades (literally) but imagine they are kicking up their heels, drinking Coronas on a beautiful Mexican beach. The current staff is all business but just as nice.

Food & Drink: The food is no frills Mexican and darn good. My favorites are the enchiladas and ground beef tacos. They also serve a kid's burger to cater to families, though I wouldn't call it a kid's place. And the prices are super reasonable.

Go-Back-Again-Ness: Not a place for intimate conversation, but a great location for a festive night out.