Yo, Barkeep: Keep Your Straw Out Of My Drink

Categories: Complaint Desk

theaviation.jpg
You walk into a dark cocktail den and take a seat at the bar. A bartender hands you a small, leather-bound menu featuring drinks from 1930s with some wild modern flavor combinations mixed in, to keep the staff from getting bored.

You're a classicist, though, so you settle on an aviation, and watch as the bartender pours gin, lemon juice and maraschino liquor into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. He strikes a purposeful stance and shakes the drink with necessary flare. And then, after pouring the concoction into a glass, he inserts a bar straw, caps the top with his finger and neatly extracts a small sample.

I get the move. Lemons are finicky fruits, sometimes as tart as bad candy from Willy Wonka and sometimes vaguely sweet. To maintain balance a bartender might add a little extra maraschino liqueur or perhaps a little more lemon juice. A small taste would illuminate which direction to go.

But that's the problem.

Bartenders never ever go in any direction after tasting a drink. Instead, they invariably top the frothy mixture with a little Crème de Violette and push the finished cocktail across the bar. Every damn time.

When the phenomenon of bartender drink-tasting started in top-shelf bars, it made sense. Drink prices swelled way past the $10 mark, costing more than many appetizers. If you expect a chef to taste and adjust the salt in your soup, why shouldn't you expect the same from a master mixologist and his drinks?

But now bartenders at dive bars are sampling whiskey cokes without even thinking about adjustments. That's not monitoring quality and balance; that's getting drunk a centiliter at a time.

If a bartender is going to pause for a moment and genuinely think about the flavors of the cocktail as they grace his or her palate -- if they're going to ask themselves if they taste the burn of alcohol or the essence of a spirit and then adjust accordingly -- I openly invite them to taste the shit out of my cocktail.

But if it's just an empty gesture -- if they're never going to use the information bestowed on them by their tastebuds and synapses to further refine my beverage -- then I must politely request they keep their straws away from my drink. I paid $15 dollars for that hand-crafted cocktail, and I'd like to enjoy every last drop.

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28 comments
sabius.au
sabius.au

This is awesome and I totally agree with you bro.

CoKlink
CoKlink

Your crappy "aviation" tells a whole lot about you. You are a trend follower. If you were a teen girl, you would be a Justin Bieber fan. If you were a 20 year old girl you would order a vodka soda and blow fraternity guys in the bathroom. Instead you are a douchey drone, following the latest trend in drinking brought to you by corporate shills.

In 20 years you will be as embarrassed that you ordered an aviation as the douches from the 80's are that they ordered Zima.

I read posts like this and understand why boomers have the feeling that younger generations are "entitled." How arrogant must a person be to 1. come to someone’s work and assume that they know more than the person working there, and 2. then go write an article about how you are being oppressed by not having a straws worth of your cocktail.

I am a career bartender, I have worked in the industry since '93. If you came to my bar and ordered an "aviation" I would laugh in your face. If you whined to me about the cost of a drink, I would politely point you in the direction of the liquor store down the street and tell you to hit the road. If you EVER accused me of stealing, by strawing your crappy drink, I would have one of the very large and juiced up guys checking ID's show you the back door.

Your assumption that strawing a drink began in "top-shelf bars" is ludicrous  (I am not even sure that “top-shelf bar” is even a real term.) Strawing drinks is common and not new.

I remember growing up in a small West Texas town in the 80's and the country club bartender, who was a lifelong bartender, and over 70 years old was strawing drinks. It is not some new thing, and strawing is not for the bartenders benefit, it is quality control for the customer.

Are you really so naive to believe that a bartender really wants a strawful of your drink so badly? Bartenders have unlimited access to -- all they can drink and not fall down -- booze. They do not have to pay for it. I have worked in this industry for years and you want to know what bartenders drink? 1. Rumplemintz 2. Beer 3. Whiskey 4. Whisky.

Bartenders do not want your "Crème de Violette," I Googled to see what kind of horrendous crap that was, I died a little inside to imagine that grown men were actually drinking a French flower called a violette.

Please for the love of God, go out and get a hobby, fall in love, or find something else to do than complain and be upset by how someone is doing their job.


#LBB, #__, #AHOT

inmate
inmate

most of the industry people i know have livers of steel. it would take a lot of damn "centiliters" of mixed drinks to get one of us trashed.

and really centiliters? what a douchy use of the metric system.

#LBB

Bittershite
Bittershite

Off topic, is that the bar at the Texas Theatre up there?Maybe the best bar in town, hands down.Please don't douch it up.

Chase
Chase

Scott, your articles are continually frustrating. You clearly have no grasp of the service industry.

I personally will modify drinks if they do not taste correctly, and never get drunk on a shift. The insinuation is insulting. However, have you ever stopped to think that your drinks don't get modified after the straw test because they were MADE CORRECTLY? If I have to modify a drink after a straw test it means that I messed something up in the drink constructing process, however I when I do straw test a drink I want to insure that the drink is made correctly. If I modified a drink every time I straw tested it that would mean that I made the drink wrong. Your drink is one of HUNDREDS that I have made in a night, so the fact that bartenders rarely modify your drink simply means that your drink was made correctly, as it should be. I am still baffled that you get paid to write bull shit articles over and over. #LifeBehindBars

Asherallen
Asherallen

Dude, you are an idiot.  Tasting a customer's drink serves only one purpose: making sure it is the best quality possible.  If I pour a drink and it is not perfect, I will remake it.  No tasting is necessary for simple mixers but for more refined drinks I wouldn't feel right charging someone 10+ dollars for a drink I don't find suitable.  My bar is always clean, fruit is fresh, hands get washed, tins are always washed after every drink and glasses are polished throughout the night.  Get a clue, you are making a mountain out of a molehill.  

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

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Alex
Alex

Honestly I understand it even for something as basic as a rum and coke, because the syrup to seltzer ratio often gets thrown off throughout a night even with the best machines and you might have just opened new bottle of rum, which is also variable. Much better to just do the test than let a customer be blindsided by an off bottle or mostly seltzer soda.

Nico Martini
Nico Martini

Really? You're BITCHING about that fact that Dallas a decent cocktail scene now and that you actually CAN order an Aviation? Could it be that they got it right? Of any of these drinks that made you feel so terribly "icky" . . . which one didn't go well? Did you send it back? Did YOUR tasting it necessitate a change in the mix? Or are you just bitching?

Pro Tip: Margarita's out of machines and Beer out of taps do not require a straw test. Stick to those. 

cp
cp

Wait, wait, wait.... Yes, the analogy of expecting a great chef to taste his food is correct. However, are you complaining about that (the $15 crafted cocktail) or the whiskey and coke (the say... Snuffer's cheese fries; they are what they are)? Because I don't expect the line cooks ate Chili's to taste their "food". SO if you are ordering a whiskey and coke, then yeah, take your straw outta my drink, but if you're actually going to spend $15 on a damn cocktail, it better taste right!

Ricky Agustin
Ricky Agustin

I contend that straw tasting ought to occur in the shaker tin or mixing glass so that adjustments can be made where the drink is being made. Glassware is where drinks go when they are finished. Once it is there, the only liquid which leaves goes into your mouth.

BB
BB

I work as a bartender, what I find quite ineresting is bartenders who tastes the drink after it's poured in the first place. Any adjustments to the drink should be made before it touches ice, not after, and in the glass, thats just a waste of time.

Beda
Beda

Zero comments about paying $15 for a cocktail in the first place???

MBM
MBM

Easiest solution for me would be just to keep your fucking straw.  Usually the first thing I do is toss that straw right back on the bar as soon as they hand me my drink.  I'm also not shy about sending a drink back if it doesn't taste right, don't need the barkeep to taste it for me.

And when I drink, I just block out the thoughts of dirty limes, dirty hands, and all the pathogens that are hopefully killed by the liquor in the drink.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

What fuckhead sticks his straw in a crown and coke?  Its crown and coke, you cant eff it up, pour the standard pour of crown in a shorty over ice and click the soda button once real fast for the splash and serve me my drink, ill tip you later for your service unless you want your sip to be your tip

Nic Rodriguez
Nic Rodriguez

Is this like when a waitress puts her thumb in my Miller Lite?

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

You partake in drinks other than beer? Oh great Scott.

On a side note with the straw thing, since I bartend from time to time and didn't give much thought to it before, does it gross you out when a bartender puts a straw in your drink or squeezes a lime in your gin and tonic? You know they don't wash their hands all night, right? Handling money, dirty glasses, etc. The germaphobe in me looks at bars a lot differently after tending bar.

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

Right on......liquor kills everything. Never be shy about sendin' a drink back!  That guy is making 200 bucks a night to do basically nothing-except be cocky and run his mouth. 

CoKlink
CoKlink

@ScottsMerkin bartenders do not drink crown. It is the one whiskey that when ordered makes us realize the other person is absolutely not service industry.


Crown to bartenders is like a Rolex to watch collectors. Crown is viewed as a decent call liquor by many outsiders, but bartenders see it as a bland status symbol of questionable quality.

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

I like it when a waitress rubs my cod filet against her apron, to get rid of the fishy smell. 

Laineybgs
Laineybgs

I bartend and I purposefully wash my hands after handling money, shaking someone's hand, touching my hair or face, handling dirty dishes, or enganging in any other activity that requires it before making any drink. And I would think any other professional would do the same thing. 

Joe Buck
Joe Buck

I don't think the lemons or limes get washed at the bar or the restaurant let alone the bartender's hands getting washed. 

Allie
Allie

I too have noticed this but then I just drink more and forget what I've observed and how dirty everything is.

Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

I agree with the lack o cleanliness factor..TRDP1..if'n you were to bartend over in the Fort me and Mrs. Brokengroin would gladly come out and see ya.  You'll know me by my order: I just want the bar mat, squeezed into a short glass...with a smidge of Mountain Dew..

anonymous
anonymous

i applaud you, problem is half of bartenders are just glorified bartenders who care nothing of their craft.

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

lol, only private parties, sir. My wife wouldn't be too keen to me serving up to hot co-eds. There are some dirty girls out there (see below--eyes darting and eyebrows raising) whose inhibitions lower progressively, regardless of your wedding ring, beer gut, and bald spot.

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