Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bartender's Most Hated Drinks

Being in the hospitality industry, bartenders don't like to grumble. But there are certain drinks they hate to make.

The primary reason a particular cocktail earns bartenders' ire is the time it takes to make. On a busy night, with patrons three-deep, most bar professionals don't want to spend five minutes muddling mint leaves.

Other dreaded orders are popular drinks that have no accepted, consistent recipe; the martini is a classic example. These invite the customer to say the drink was made incorrectly, no matter how it was mixed.

It is not always the drink itself the bartender hates; sometimes it's the timing. Even the most simple shaken cocktail is a hassle during Friday-night rush hour.

But some drinks are the bane of bartenders at any time of day. Here are five examples.

The Lemon Drop.

This very common cocktail can come as a shot or in a martini glass. It's a combination of vodka (commonly citron-flavored), fresh-squeezed lemon juice and sugar that threatens to leave you with a hangover.

People love Lemon Drops because they're fruity, sweet and often come in a glass rimmed with sugar. However, this drink is time-consuming to make and leaves the bartender with sticky hands.

Paschal Smith, bartender at the Bitter End in San Francisco, says he hates making them "because of the damn sugar."

If the bar is busy and you crave that citrus flavor, consider having a Kamikaze, which doesn't include that bothersome sugar.

The Manhattan.

The Manhattan is a classic cocktail usually made from whiskey, sweet vermouth and a dash of bitters, served straight up or on the rocks with a cherry. Devotees favor this cocktail because of its old-time flavor and potency.

Bartender Eric Berchtold of the Cinch in San Francisco says he doesn't like to make Manhattans because, "Too many things go into it and everyone wants them made a different way."

Some insist on bourbon, others on Canadian whiskey or rye. Some people want cherry juice or Cointreau added.

Berchtold has had patrons order the drink because it makes them seem debonair, yet when it arrives, they decide they don't like the taste of bitters.

When ordering a Manhattan, help the bartender by specifying the type of whiskey you want. If you want anything more than whiskey, vermouth and bitters, ask for it.

The Cosmopolitan.

The popular Cosmopolitan carries the same pitfalls as the Manhattan. A basic recipe is vodka, lime juice, cranberry juice and triple sec (an orange liqueur). But ever since the character Carrie Bradshaw on "Sex in the City" demanded perfection in her Cosmopolitan, people have had high standards in what was originally a fairly simple drink.

While fresh lime juice is usually preferred, some people insist on Rose's Lime Juice. Others want sweet and sour mix added to sweeten the cocktail and give it a pinker hue. Sometimes Cointreau, a more expensive orange liqueur, is substituted for triple sec.

Without specific instructions, every bartender makes Cosmos differently. If you want it made your way, you have to specify.

The Mojito.

Mojitos are delicious -- they're minty and fresh, and they provide a strong buzz.

But, to most bartenders, the Mojito is the quintessential "it takes too long to make" drink.

The Mojito embodies every reason a bartender hates to make a cocktail. First of all, it requires fresh mint, which must be muddled -- mashed with a special tool to release its flavors. This alone takes a few minutes.

Sugar and fresh lime juice -- two sticky ingredients many bartenders dislike -- are added, along with rum and soda water.

To top it off, Mojitos must be shaken.

Bartender Noah Esperas of le Duplex in San Francisco says, "Go to a restaurant if you want a real Mojito."

He warns, "Honestly, if I am slammed at 1 a.m. and someone asks for four Mojitos, I won't make them. If it costs $9 for a Mojito and $8 for a Grey Goose (vodka), the bar isn't losing much and I can make up for it in tips with the other people by saving time."

Specialties of another bar.

Just because you had a Lavender Martini at the Redwood Room in San Francisco, or an Angry Bleeding Minnow Farmer on vacation last spring in Hawaii, doesn't mean that you will find those drinks at every bar.

The Bitter End's Smith says, "I hate making stuff I've never heard of, which are most drinks these days."

If you must have a designer drink, you're going to have to know the recipe yourself. It won't help to bark a crazy name at the bartender and then get upset when she's never heard of it.

That said, most bartenders like to experiment. Pick a time when the bar isn't busy, describe the drink you had, be willing to pay for whatever the bartender concocts, and you just might re-create your vacation drinking experience.

Finally, a nice tip can turn any of these cocktails into a drink your bartender loves to make.

Article stolen from a random blogger who in turn stole it from an edition of the SF Gate.

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