It’s not you, it’s me – except when it’s you – Marin Independent Journal


Frankie Frost / IJ Archives

Jeff Burkhart

I approached the couple just in time to hear them say, “It’s not you, it’s me.

I tried to turn and head in a different direction, but I was too late. And when I say too late, I mean too much, too late. Because when one’s private humiliation is exposed publicly, it is often taken, and often in the wrong direction.

“Where are you going?” the man asked, turning me around.

“I’m going to have a martini,” he said, his staring eyes piercing me through and through.

I waited a second or two because I know there is no “martini”.

Martinis come in all shapes and sizes these days. Vodka, gin, soju, aquavit, juniper, to name a few. They also come with or without vermouth, and sometimes with different brands of vermouth (or different kinds). They also come in different glasses. The name martini is used to describe everything from apples to pornstars to secret agents. There are dirty ones, clean ones and even different kinds of dirty ones (Christina Aguilera vs. Britney Spears is a common trope). Some have olives, some have lemon twists, some have both, and some have neither.

“But I don’t want vermouth,” he said, proving my point.

“Or olive brine. I don’t want it to be dirty, ”he added, his eyes still motionless. “And I don’t want blue cheese olives in it.”

Sometimes people focus on what they won’t do instead of what they will do. They say things like “I won’t make chardonnay” or “I won’t make gin” like there is only one type of chardonnay or gin in the whole world. Often they think they are “clear” or “fierce” in their determination. And that’s what makes it difficult. Life is so much easier when you know what you want and are able to express it. It’s never easy to get around someone else’s dislikes.

Asking him if he wanted gin or vodka seemed to take him off guard. This is the problem with presenting all of your dislikes, sometimes what is most important is overlooked.

He had already looked away when I asked him.

“What kind of gin? “

Those non-blinking eyes couldn’t have looked more bored.

I ignored her “Do you think you can handle this?” comment. Because if anyone knows how the transfer works, it’s a bartender. They’re not mad at you, they’re mad at the situation, and if you take it personally, it’s going to be a long night for everyone.

I tried delivering the drink and then retreated, but that’s not the way life works.

“I’ll also have a martini,” she said.

The man looked from her to me, then back to her. This time, I didn’t have to wait at all.

“I’ll have Square One vodka, off-dry, with Lillet, if you have any.” Refrigerated, in a cut glass. And please garnish it with an orange zest.

What she didn’t add was a “Do you think you can handle this?” “

There are people who still insist that a martini is just one thing. Of course, these same people think they are the only ones who can define what it is. I have learned, in my 30+ years behind bars, that this choice is what makes the world go round. The bar industry is full of people trying to tell you that you don’t know what you want. They alone do it. And if you don’t agree with them, there’s something wrong with you. That’s why every year we have sommeliers who insist that Riesling goes better with turkey, and spirits writers who insist that “bailed” is the best thing. , and even “mixologists” who insist (and I mean insist) that you “can’t” shake this or you “can’t” stir that.

The truth is, there isn’t just one way to do anything. And the sooner you find out which method works best for you, the better off you’ll be. And it usually starts with the ability to express it, either to yourself or to the world at large.

“You are so picky,” he said on his date.

She smiled and sipped her drink, enjoying her choices.

Leaving me with these thoughts:

• I think it was actually him, not her. .

• “Everyone is so different, I have to change,” Joe Walsh once chanted of rock stardom. This is even more true for the bartender.

• Criticizing someone else’s tastes doesn’t make you more sophisticated or desirable. It just makes you a jerk.

• Not everyone is wrong. If you believe they are, you might actually be the problem.

• Right-thinking people often find themselves alone. Not so good as a bartender, but even worse as a lover.

Jeff Burkhart is the author of “Twenty Years Behind Bars: The Spirited Adventures of a Real Bartender, Vol. I and II,” the host of the Barfly podcast on iTunes and an award-winning bartender at a local restaurant. Follow him on jeffburkhart .net and contact him at [email protected]


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