Life in the Service Industry

Server A: “I finally got my best friend to send me my albums.”

You mean vinyl albums or CDs.

Server A: “Yeah, vinyl albums. I have a bunch more at home, but she sent about 40. It was surprisingly cheap to send them as media mail.”

Cool!

Server A: “Yeah, I don’t buy CDs any more. If I can’t find it on torrent, I’ll maybe buy it from apple, but I haven’t bought a CD in a long time. Plus, when you buy vinyl, they usually give you the digital version for free.”

Nice! Yeah, I got a turntable for Michele for Christmas. I have a really excellent turntable I’ve had since college, but it’s belt drive, so you have to track down new belts every couple years. It’s just gotten harder to find the belts over the years.

Server B: “I buy vinyl and have a Crosley turntable, but I don’t really use it too much. I just mostly listen to digital.”

Gin Fix

Gin Fix
Use small bar glass.
1 Tablespoonful Sugar.
1/4 Lemon.
1/2 Wineglass Water.
1 Wineglass Gin.
Fill 2/3 full of shaved ice. Stir with a spoon and ornament the top with fruits in season.

OK, so those instructions are kind of hopelessly munged. First, this is an old recipe, so we’re definitely using Genever, not Dry Gin. Second, remembering the caveat from the Brandy Fix, “In making fixes be careful to put the lemon skin in the glass,” but let’s punch-i-fy further (oleo sacharum baby!) and muddle the peel of the lemon in the sugar.

How about the following:

Genever Fix

1 Generous teaspoonful sugar.
Rind and juice of 1/2 lemon.
Water.
2 oz Bols Aged Genever.
Fruit, in season, to garnish.

In heavy double old fashioned glass (or similar), muddle lemon rind in sugar until fragrant. Add water, and muddle until sugar is dissolved. Pour in Genever and lemon juice. Stir to mix. Fill with fine ice and swizzle until well frosted. Garnish with fruits, in season.

Ah, yes, delicious! And Kiwis are in season here in California, so there!

Mr. Angus Winchester, man about town and global ambassador for Tanqueray Gin, was kind enough to come out to one of our recent Savoy Nights at Alembic Bar.

When I was chatting with him, I quizzed him about what he thought was notable about the category of drinks called “Fix”.

Interestingly, he said his theory was the name “Fix” referred to the fact that the drink was “Fixed in the glass”. And went on to say that he considered one of the more important Dick Bradsell drinks,the Bramble, an elaborate “Fix”.

Hrm, well, Mr. Bradsell doesn’t exactly see it that way, he considers it a Singapore Sling variation, nor does he mix his bramble in the glass, but in a way, it works. Let’s “Fix” a Bramble.

Fixed Bramble

Rind and Juice 1/2 Lemon.
1 generous teaspoon Sugar.
Water.
2 oz Dry Gin.
1/2 oz Blackberry Liqueur.
Blackberries or other seasonal fruit, for garnish.

In a heavy old fashioned glass muddle the peel of a lemon in sugar. Add water, and muddle to dissolve. Add Gin and Lemon juice. Mix to combine and add ice. Swizzle until glass well frosted. Drizzle on Blackberry liqueur and garnish with fresh fruit and lemon slice.

Swizzle Stick courtesy Samurai Bartender, Chris “Rookie” Stanley.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the drinks in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, the, uh, Sauterne Cup.

Life in the Service Industry

What do you think of my new black shirts? I kind of like them, but they’re a little odd in the yoke to iron.

“Iron? What is this IRON you speak of? I don’t iron my shirts, I just hang them in the bathroom while I take a shower.”

Huh, good idea, I’ll have to try that. It’s just I don’t like to tumble dry my cotton clothes. I find they wear longer if I line dry them after washing. Then they’re too wrinkly to not iron them.

“Laundry?! I hate doing laundry! I just drop my clothes off at Laundry Locker in the Lower Haight, it’s a dollar fifty a pound for wash and fold, a dollar a pound if you sign up for a laundry plan.”

Clearly, I have a lot to learn about life in the service industry.

What’s Up, Winter 2011

I guess you might have noticed that the Savoy Stomp has been slightly stalled of late.

The long and short of it is I have been a bit too busy to find much time for leisurely making, photographing, and writing about drinks.

Full time job, Bartending shifts at Heaven’s Dog, Holidays, Travel. They’ve all contributed to a slight stagnation of content creation for the blog.

And to be honest, I don’t imagine there will be much else happening until 2012.

On the plus side, there really are very few Savoy drinks left to make. A couple more Fixes, Juleps, Smashes, Punches, and Cups and we’re DONE. Kaputt. Outta here.

What happens after that, with the Savoy Project and the blog, I really don’t know.

We’ll just have to see what develops.

As far as Savoy Cocktails go, you can always get your real world Savoy fix at Alembic Bar the last Sunday of the Month, when we hold Savoy Cocktail book Night.

Though, do note, as the last Sunday falls on December 25 this month, we’ll be holding it a week early, on Sunday, December 18.

And if Savoy Cocktails aren’t your thing, you can find me at Heaven’s Dog on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays, when I can make cocktails with ingredients which weren’t included in the Savoy Cocktail Book.

Hope to see you around!

Omakase

From the wikipedia entry about “Omakase“:

“Omakase is a Japanese phrase that means “I’ll leave it to you” and it comes from the word for “entrust”.

“The expression is used at sushi restaurants to leave the selection to the chef. It differs from ordering à la carte. The chef will generally present a series of plates, beginning with the lightest fare and proceeding to heaviest, richest dishes. The phrase is not exclusive to service of raw fish with rice, and can incorporate grilling and simmering as well. Customers ordering omakase style expect the chef to be innovative and surprising in the selection of dishes, and the meal can be likened to an artistic performance by the chef. Ordering omakase can be a gamble; however, the customer typically receives the highest quality fish the restaurant currently has in stock at a price cheaper than if it was ordered à la carte. From the restaurant’s perspective, a large number of customers ordering omakase can help in planning for food costs.”

The other day, while I was working with him at Alembic, Danny Louie asked me what bartenders I admired in San Francisco.

I went through the litany of respected bartenders I admire in San Francisco and why.

But later, I was thinking about it, and another candidate for my favorite tender of a bar doesn’t make drinks at all.

Tim Archuleta and his wife run Ichi Sushi in my San Francisco neighborhood.

Tim runs his Sushi Bar more like a neighborhood Sushi Tavern, greeting guests as the come in. Asking them about their families or dogs. Keeping track of the progress of the various diners’ meals at his sushi bar. Pacing people’s meals so they don’t get too full or wait too long. All the while, cutting and serving some of the freshest sushi I’ve ever tasted.

I really admire the spirit he brings to the restaurant and to his guests.

Every time we go in, I usually just say chef’s choice and tell him how much we’d like to eat and what we are in the mood for.

It’s really fun, the way he paces the meal, starting with lighter fare, throwing in a few cooked dishes, and finishing again with lighter, almost dessert sushi.

Watching him work has made me think about how to properly pace and what order to serve people drinks. What drink is best first, what to follow with, what to finish with. If a guest asks you what to pair a dish with, what do you tell them?

Some of the best experiences I’ve had being served by a bartender have been at the Slanted Door, when my wife and I are lucky enough to be served by Mr. Erik Adkins*.

Like Omakase, we give him a framework of what we are interested in, how hungry, do we have food allergies, do we like oysters, etc, and he fills it out with what food is currently best at the restaurant and pairs it with wine, beer and spirits. His knowledge of both the food and drink is amazing but it is his apparent joy at serving us, as guests, with the best he has to offer, which is truly inspirational.

I don’t really have a moral to this story, other than to to point out the self evident: As bartenders, it is important to be aware of the larger context of the guests’ experiences.

I REALLY enjoy making great cocktails and impressing guests with them, but sometimes you have to put away the desire to impress a guest with your cocktail making skill and respect the trust they have put in you, whatever that means, on that on that night, for that particular guest, at that exact moment.

*I will note that I do work for Mr. Adkins at Heaven’s Dog. This is in no way meant to suck up to him, he already gave me a job afterall, just an honest expression of my admiration for his talents as a host and bartender.