Inside the Skull of David Priest
Contains Adult Content
All drinks are nine dollars.
Sauza Hornitos Tequila with
Chili-Lime-Cilantro Bloody Mix.
Served up in a SeaSalted glass.
Yazi Ginger Vodka with
Stoli Pertsovka a dash of Sweet Vermouth.
Served up with Chilies.
Booker's bourbon with orange bitters,
DuBonnet Rogue and Grand Marnier.
Served up with an orange twist.
Malibu Mango and 3 Olives Mango
with muddled orange and bubbly.
Served on the rocks, tall.
Don Julio Blanco with Midori,
Muddled lime and Cointreau.
On the rocks in a tall SeaSalted glass.
Finlandia Grapefruit with X-Rated,
muddled grapefruit and lime.
Served on the rocks, tall.
Knob Creek bourbon with
Peach Schnapps, muddled orange,
and a splash of ginger ale, served up.
Stoli Bluberi with Cointreau,
Rose's and muddled lime,
served up with frozen blueberries.
Sailor Jerry with DiSaronno,
muddled lime, Coco Lopez, pineapple.
Served on the rocks, tall.
White Crème de Cacao with
Bacardi Coco, lime, and mint.
Served up with shaved dark chocolate.
Godiva White Chocolate with Stoli
Strasberi, house strawberry puree
and shaved white chocolate.
Bailey's and Bushmill's
with Frangelico and cream.
Shaken and served up.
Hot Buttered Grog
Sailor Jerry with Christian Brothers
and house Buttered-Rum Batter
in a mug with a cinnamon stick.
DiSaronno and Firefly Sweet Tea
in a mug of chamomile
with a lemon twist.
Another happy-hour. Three lemon-drops, one Bruiser, three drafts, gin-tonic, two reds.
Reds first. Both cabs. New bottle. I pull the foil off whole, flip my corkscrew from my right pants pocket and pop the cork. Turn the bottle straight down and glug-two-three-four twice.
Bucket glass, ice, gin, tonic. Done.
One more ticket up. And one more ticket. Grab four martini glasses. Sugar three. Set up four pints: one with limes, three with lemons and a sugar cube. Double-tap the limes with my muddler. Rinse it. No lime in my lemon-drops. Smash the lemons. Rinse it. Always rinse it. Ice all four then one-two-three Cointreau with four-five blueberry vodka over the limes with a splash of Rose's. Two shots citrus vodka with a splash of sour over the rest. Shake and strain. Rinse the shakers. Always put them down clean.
One more ticket up. Three pints from the freezer and a jar of blueberries. One in each hand, I pull the handles with my forefinger, left then right. Fill the beers and close each tap with my knuckle, left then right. I pour the third beer as Carlene is garnishing and traying up. I drop a few berries in the Bruiser last. In half a minute, the green and blue drink will turn purple.
Another ticket. Berries back in the freezer.
“Thank you. Drive through,” I tell her. She dimples and lifts the tray on her finger-tips. Good girl. Nice form. A quick glance and now I'm five tickets deep.
Carlene's was the long one. These are short and I clump them together as servers gather at the rail. Reds. Open a new bottle and launch the old cork left-handed into my tip bucket.
“Nice shot,” says a guy with a martini to the right of the well.
I shake my head. “Banked it.”
Bottle of white for the new waitress. “Can I get three glasses with that?”
“Yes you may. Could you put that on the ticket next time, please?” I ask. Big smile. Something about the new girls. The mystery. Will she be a star or will we burn her out in a few shifts? Will I wake up wrapped around her one morning?
I salt one pint, smash three limes with one orange, ice, one-two-three triple sec with four-five tequila, splash of sour. Shake it. Dump it. Another ticket up.
“Thanks, Dave,” Will says, traying his drinks.
“Party on,” I reply.
“Busy tonight,” says the martini guy.
I cock one eyebrow as I lay out a string of whiskey-cokes, vodka-sodas, a rum press. “What do you mean?”
Two more tickets up. Three new ladies at the rail to my right. Early to mid-thirties. I card them. Girls like to be carded. Eye-contact. Smile. The brunette adjusts her low-cut blouse. I wasn't looking at her purple lace bra.
While pouring three ice-waters, I tell them this week I'm mixing Midori with melon vodka and muddled citrus, served up.
The guys on the other side of the rail are telling each other “walks into a bar” jokes. They need two scotch-rocks, a bourbon-sour, and a beer.
“'...cannonball blasted off me leg,'” one says in a pirate voice.
I pour the scotch and bourbon, bring them over. I go pour the beer.
“And I asked him why the hook? 'Hand chopped off in a sword-fight,' he replies.”
Beer pours slow when I'm busy. My left hand wants something to do.
“So I asked him why the eye-patch?” says the guy with the brand new scotch.
I look around as I fill the beer. Another ticket. The ladies look through the menu. The one with the warm brown eyes was scoping me and looks back down.
“'Arr! A sea-gull pooped in me eye.'”
The guy by the well has four drops of martini left. I look at his glass and he nods. The game is 3-3 in the bottom of the fourth.
“I say: 'You lost an eye from sea-gull poop?'”
The new girl has a long tapered back and an ass like a lollipop. I'll guess soccer in high-school and now aerobic kick-boxing. Beer's full. I bring it over.
“'Nay!' he says. 'Was me first day with the hook.'”
His buddies roll. I reply, “The last pirate I saw in here had a big wood steering wheel stuck to his crotch. I asked him about it and he said: 'Arr! It's drivin' me nuts.'”
I return to the well to shake a melon special and replace the guy's martini. He wipes his forehead, grinning.
“Sorry. You're in the sea-world seat,” I tell him. “Sit too close, you might get splashed.”
I sink some red watermelon liqueur to the bottom of the green drink and garnish with a lime.
“What's that?” asks one of the three ladies. The one with the roots. Horrible addiction, hair color. Always either getting it dyed or growing it out and her hair's never the same again. Getting high-lights to make things look natural.
“This week's special,” I reply.
“What do you call it?”
“This Week's Special.” I'm no good at drink names. I think of drink recipes while I'm half-asleep, but most names just sound stupid or punny so I've stopped bothering.
They order three so I set up three pints with two limes and two lemons each. Smash them, ice, a shot each of Midori and melon vodka, splash of lemonade. Shake, strain, sink the liqueur. A bright green with a wedge of red at the bottom of the glass like a slice of cold watermelon on a hot day. I did alright this week.
I deliver the drinks. They order the crab dip and some calamari. The guys on the other side ask for the clams, garlic fries, and the salmon sliders while the printer drops three more tickets.
Quarter to six and it's time to get digging. I put food orders in the computer. No time to enter drinks. Back to the well.
“So what's on special for happy hour?” asks the martini guy, who's already been told. I line up glasses for two Long Islands, some cokes and tonics, two more Bruisers.
“All drinks, all apps, half-price. Four to six.” I four-pour vodka, gin, run, and triple sec with a splash of sour and coke.
“Even the martinis?” Whiskey-coke, two rum-cokes, vodka-tonic, two gin-tonics, a rare Meyers-tonic.
“Yep.” I smash limes, pour Cointreau, vodka and roses. Shake and strain. Grab more berries from the freezer. Next ticket says mojito-not-sweet, Maria extra-spicy, bottle of cab with four, three bottles of beer and a B-52 coffee.
“Those clams smell good. How do they cook 'em?”
“Steamed in a broth of shallots, garlic, sweet onions, chili flakes and ale,” I tell him. “With focaccia made here twice-daily.”
I fill a coffee glass with hot water then grab the wine. Check the glasses in the sunlight coming in off the bay. Spotless, but lipstick on one. Never built a machine to remove lipstick. I polish it with a napkin.
“They on special?”
I grab the beers, pop three caps. Then I drop mint and extra limes in a glass, skip the sugar, and smash them.
“Half price.” Ice, rum, sour, shake it, add soda, and dump it. Then habanero sauce, Hornitos, cracked pepper, mary mix. Shake, salt the rim, and strain while Alexis strings an antipasto of vegetables on a bar pick.
I dump the hot water, pour Grand Marnier, Bailey's, Kahlua, coffee and top it with an inch and a half of whipped cream.
“Whoah,” Alexis says.
“This ain't a game.”
“It's a sport,” she replies. She knows all my lines. She dances away, tray on her finger-tips, over her head. One of her best attributes: just like me, she takes busy, crazy nights as a challenge to enjoy.
“You got some white wine for the clams on Happy Hour?” asks the guy with the martini.
“Yes.” I hand him the wine list, grab rolled silver and plates for the guys and gals while eyeballing the tickets, return with a stout, an IPA, two merlots, and a chard. Vodka, Kahlua, cream rocks for a White Russian.
Next ticket says martini up, little dry vermouth, olive. I don't have to look at the name to know it's the newbie. I make the martini and garnish it because I'm a pal. The printer keeps spitting tickets and I keep laying out drinks.
The expo delivers my food. I follow him with the pepper mill. Sid, Seth, something like that. New. Good worker, I think. I've seen him bussing, bar-backing on the weekends, whatever they need. The “just put me in, Coach” plan.
It smells good in here, like garlic, basil, clam nectar and fried bread crumbs. The guys to my left want another round before six. The ladies want another at happy hour price, but don't want it poured yet.
The guy by the well gets clams, seared ahi, and whatever white wine I like. Sauvignon Blanc with the clams. The dry California not the fruity New Zealand.
Three dudes squeeze up at the rail for beers and shots. I card them. A keg blows as I'm pouring their second brew. I pour the full into the empty and bring them three halves with their Jaeger.
“These are just practice beers. I'll have your real ones in a moment.” They're each holding debit cards.
I tap an extension on my phone. “Amber, please.”
I arrange nine tickets, looking for the easy ones, common drinks, and whoever's closest to the well. New girl's martini is still here. I get Carlene another bottle of wine, put a margarita in the blender to spin, shake more lemon-drops, smash a Fizz-Mang, three more Bruisers, pour sodas, tonics, and cokes.
Most bartenders openly hate blended drinks. I find people often hate doing things they're bad at. Usually their margaritas, daiquiris, smoothies, or whatever are too thick, too thin, too little or way too much. That's when they whine about whoever ordered it while they repair the drink.
First of all, use the right amount of ice. It's a touch. It just feels like enough cubes when you scoop them. Add your liquids almost to the top of the ice and not over. Get the proportion wrong, it's either too thick or too thin. And err on the side of too much drink. Nothing sucks more than pouring 95% of a margarita and then having to rebuild that last ounce.
For virgin drinks, realize alcohol lowers the freezing point. Use less ice and more liquid or you'll get a snow-cone, not a beverage.
And yes, blended drinks taste lousy. Watered-down. Microscopic ice cubes melt too fast, but I have no time to complain about that now and no one wants to hear it. Besides, I can make a few drinks while the blender is doing all the hard work. I don't have an engine for shaking martinis.
“86 Amber,” I tell Will, “For a minute.” But already Corn is rolling it around the corner. He opens a fridge and removes the empty. “Corn-dog, you are my ace.”
Five-fifty-nine. The minute of my day most guaranteed to be action-packed. “On your left,” I tell Corn as I step next to him and pour wine.
“Fire in the hole,” he declares as he shuts the door and rolls away the empty keg.
“Thanks, Cornelius,” I reply loud enough for the bar to hear. A few guests echo the thanks. I pour the delinquent ambers. The guys with a shot and one-and-a-half beers each want their checks. Each still holding a debit card. Don't they know real men carry cash? I hold up four new tickets, smile, and say: “Just a moment.”
The new girl is finally getting her martini. Her eyes are focussed on a spot halfway between my chin and the drink. She carries it away, holding the tray in both hands. Her suede-brown hair is in a tight bun. Maybe too tight.
I choose not to tell her right now that martinis are up with a little vermouth by default and she doesn't have to tell me about the olive because she should do the garnishing.
Shake it off, little girl.
Shortly the printer stops throwing ninja stars, the ladies and gentlemen focus on their seafood, the servers take the last half-price drinks and I wipe things down. I top off the garnish trays, rearrange bottles, run the guys' cards and fix the ladies their last round. At the computer, I reach back into my brain for the drinks I haven't yet rung and get things up to date. I tell the nearest server I'll be back in three and step through the swinging door to the kitchen.
I need to wash my hair.
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