There I was, standing in my kitchen with no pants on. I had on shorts, mind you, but shorts are not pants, at least so I am told, quite often, by my wife.
I was in the process of demonstrating a particularly intricate cocktail recipe to a group of corporate types via Zoom. Since they could not see me from the waist down, and I was being illuminated by a particularly hot and quite bright slightly upwardly facing light, I figured my going half-Monty was not going to be a problem.
Corporate cocktail hour Zoom events are quite the thing nowadays. Now that going down to your local watering hole after work to hang out with your work buddies is likely to get one arrested. Add in a dash of home mixology, stir in some ToGo cocktails, mix in a cocktail kit or two, and serve it all up on Zoom, and the after work happy hour still lives on. And likely with fewer HR concerns too.
Recently, I did get a request to host a Zoom wine tasting with a winemaker. The only problem was that there was no way to deliver wine to all the participants. And if there is one thing people can’t stand, it is watching someone else taste something without being able to do so themselves. There are only so many times you can watch someone else say “yummy” before one is ready to throw something through their viewing screen. Suffice it to say, I didn’t do it. Correction, I did taste the wine, I just didn’t do it on Zoom.
“What do you do with the bacon fat?” asked Sue in Omaha.
“You have to shake the mezcal with it,” I replied, adding, “It’s usually best to let it sit overnight.”
“Overnight?” interrupted Jenny from Monterey. “But I just got my kit today.”
“You can do it right now just to get an idea,” I replied.
“But I don’t eat pork,” chimed in Paul from Albuquerque.
This was not going well.
I had suggested on three separate occasions to this company’s resource management officer that perhaps instead of a spicy fat-washed aquafaba mezcal sour, that maybe we should just do a margarita, all to no avail. She was insistent, this was going to be an “advanced” cocktail class for “connoisseurs.”
Sure, it took seven or eight emails to get the recipe concluded, and four or five more to figure out where and what ingredients to get, and two or three more to source alternate ingredients when those first ones turned out to be unavailable, and then one or two more emails when the infusions necessary confused the participants, and one more just about the time. But the service business is about taking care of business, not stopping at every obstacle. A happy customer is always the goal, for better, and sometimes, for worse.
“I didn’t get the sugar syrup,” said Red409 from wherever he was.
“It’s in that squirt bottle right in front of you,” I said.
“It’s not here.”
“It’s to your left,” I said squinting at his tiny image on my tiny screen.
“Your other left.”
“When were we supposed to add the mezcal?” asked someone whose name I didn’t get.
“That was the first ingredient,” I said.
One thing SIP has shown me is how few people actually know how to make cocktails, at all. Even self-described experts. The number one question I have received either via Zoom, or online, or through the newspaper is: “How do you make an extra dry martini?”
Typically, an “extra dry” martini is just the primary spirit, vodka or gin, with no vermouth. Remember Winston Churchill’s famous adage, “Just nod in the direction of France?” All your fancy misters, syringe injectors, and vermouth soaked olives are not going to change that fact. And if many people have questions about a one ingredient drink, what do you think three, four, five, six ingredients are going to do? Never mind fat-washing or aquafaba.
All of which, found me standing in my kitchen, pants-less, sighing while squinting at my phone and subsequently having the following thoughts:
-Trying to impress your co-workers by choosing something excessively difficult to do together, is probably going to have the opposite effect.
-If you can see me on Zoom, I can probably see you too. Just saying.
-Fat-washing cocktails is a real thing, not one I recommend, but a thing, nonetheless.
-The difference between a connoisseur and a professional, is that a connoisseur has only one to do it for, whereas a professional must do it for many.
-I’m now not sure I can ever go back to wearing pants again. I’m sure my wife will be thrilled.