The lost Art of bartending….

I watched in awe as he moved behind the bar reaching from fridge to freezer, gliding his fingers across the crystal clear glass shelves looking for the perfect liquor for the cocktail at hand, choosing a glass to compliment the cocktail was like choosing the color of a car, it had to fit as if to show off its personality. Fast. Neat. Classy. Shaken, not stirred. He would hold the glass up to the light after cleaning it with a soft cloth, then fill it with the perfect amount of ice if it called for it. He worked in such a manner that as you watched it reminded you of the gears inside your grandfathers pocket watch, each one working with the other in order to create the precise outcome. That, was my Father.

        He grabbed a glass, swished it with vermouth dumped it out and began the makings of the perfect Manhattan. “Don’t forget the cherry” he would say “That makes life perfect”.


The lost Art of Bartending
The lost Art of Bartending

My boyfriend owned his own ‘upper class’ restaurant if you will for a while where Tom Collins were made with homemade sour mix not the stuff you buy. Where he would chuckle when someone ordered a “Rum and Coke” and as he served them he would say “Here’s your Cubra libra” And they’d say “But I ordered a Rum and Coke”? He’d smile pushing the glass closer to them saying “I know” thinking to himself “to bad you didn’t”.

What ever happened to the beauty of the “Making of a cocktail” We talk of craft beers, wine with legs, champagne, which is really ‘sparkling wine’ not Champagne. {It’s atually not Champagne unles it comes from Champagne, France}.

Today, he sells restaurants instead of working in them but helps a friend bartend during the week at Mr. Paul’s Chophouse. Now, if you have never been there, I suggest occupying a seat at the bar for a few hours and just….watching. Now this is not a plug for the restaurant nor a future profitable tip for my boyfriend. What it is, is a first class seat to the lost art of bartending. Where women have their chairs pulled out and pushed in for them. Where a gentleman stands as she is heading or returning from the ladies room. Where a womans hand is delicately grasped in both of theirs when one of the owners walk around to say hello. A place where the owners know your name and they will sit with you and ask how your family is, how your holiday was, and say they are happy to hear a loved one of yours is doing better.

 

The first time I stepped into Paul’s I was immediately in awe. You can’t help but feel it. It’s was like stepping back in time, but to no time I had ever “lived in” as an adult, just the vivid images of my Father behind our basement bar. Glass mixing sticks, barrels with the perfect Manhattan mix waiting to be poured, aged scotch in enticing decanters with dim lights and a cherry wood high gloss bar that you admired as you sat and….sipped.

My boyfriend, Gary, introduced me to “Mr. Paul” the first time we went for a drink there. Paul came out from behind the bar to greet me, asked me if he could show me around his place, I of course smiled and nodded yes. He took my wine glass from my hand, offered me his arm and as I held on I was guided through an enchanting restaurant filled with conversation, aromas of incredible food and a wait staff including the bartenders all dressed in freshly pressed black tuxedo pants, crisp white shirts and blouses with tuxedo vests, the waitresses wore black bow ties and the bartenders had ties with clips or pins, now even that’s a lost art in dressing with style.

Now I am sure there are other restaurants out there, I actually know a few, that dress this way. But the bartending, I have not seen. Yes, there are plenty of  bars out there all trying to imitate the God-awful Tom Cruise “Cocktail” movie with flying liquor bottles, clanking glasses, towers of over flowing shot glasses and the occasional shot of 151 set on fire, and that may suit you just fine. But in time, it won’t. You will wonder where is your twist of lemon, where is your glasses rinsed with vermouth, where is the perfect spherical ice-cube that sits in your glass chilling your cocktail, the one made with time, with commitment, with pride.

Because at the end of a long day, haven’t you earned that?

 

…..Then, he would rim the glass with a lemon rind, hold the lemon rind over the glass lighting it with a slow flame to get the oils into the alcohol. Perfect.

And when you’re from Brazil you can’t call it rum.


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