When customers leave you shaken and stirred

They had already caused a fuss at the front door. News travels fast in the restaurant business. Take my word for it, if a customer is being unreasonable, unruly or just plain rude, most likely everybody working there knows it within five minutes of it happening.

“We were told we can’t eat here,” replied one of the men.

I looked to my left: two people eating steaks. I looked to my right: three people eating appetizers. In fact, every single person (except for those two men) had food in front of them, as well as drinks.

“Where did you get that idea?” I replied.

“The person at the front door told us that.”

“The person at the front door told you that you couldn’t eat at the bar?” I asked for clarification.


The person at the front door hadn’t said anything of the kind. I know, because I asked. The manager had told them that they could, in fact, eat at the bar, just that all the bar tables were taken, and it would be an hour before one came available.

People often only hear the narrative that they want to believe.

Once I interrupted a gentleman who was explaining to his guests that “The restaurant deliberately doesn’t put prices on the drinks so that they could rip people off.”

“The listed cocktails are all $12” I said pointing at the wording clearly listed at the top of the drink menu.

Then he pointed at the wine glasses. “Look, they only fill the glasses halfway.”

“We do a six ounce pour, which is ¼ of a bottle,” I added. “If we filled that glass all the way up it would be almost a full bottle of wine.”

But it was a losing battle. In an industry where opinion trumps facts, pointing out truths, is like bringing a knife to a gunfight.

The two men did order food. Our smallest appetizer.

“Can we order drinks?” asked the second man finally piping up.

I love that question in the bar business.

“I don’t know Sir, let’s see,” I thought but did not say. Because if there is one thing that I’ve learned in the hospitality industry, it’s that some people take themselves far too seriously.

“I’ll have a James Bond martini,” he said.

“That could be a couple of different drinks,” I replied.

“I’ve had it here before,” he said, which of course provided no useful new information.

Often people think they are being clear, when they are not. For instance, repeating exactly the same thing over again, and again, when it wasn’t understood the first or second time is not going to make it clearer. Neither is repeating it very, very, slowly.

“A…James…Bond…martini…” chimed in his guest.

Thanks for that.

“Don’t you know what that is?”

The manager walked by behind them taking another couple to a table. She looked at me, and I looked at her. And then we both looked at the two men. Yep, everyone knew.

James Bond is famous for his martini: vodka, dry, shaken not stirred. Most everybody knows that. Less well known is that he also drank another drink, named after his girlfriend Vesper Lynd. It had gin, vodka and Kina Lillet, which is most decidedly not a martini. Changing one ingredient in a drink renders a completely different drink. Think old fashioned (whiskey bitters, sugar) and a Manhattan (whiskey, bitters, and sweet vermouth). Similar but different.

Mixing both gin and vodka together and then adding Lillet (an aromatized wine like vermouth, yet not vermouth) and you stray far outside the martini parameters. It’s like calling a gin and tonic a martini. You are only changing one ingredient, right? And tonic is bitter just like vermouth, right? Try it once, see what happens, I dare you.

But bartenders are there to provide service not to make people feel bad, or stupid, or inadequate. People can often do that all on their own.

So, after many questions, and only a few answers I made the two men Vespers.

The two women sitting next to them asked what they were.

“They are James Bond martinis,” the men said in unison.

Leaving me with these thoughts:

-The new James Bond movie “No Time to Die” is now out. Here we go again.

-“Convictions are more dangerous foes of truth than lies,” once wrote Friedrich Nietzsche.

-The illusory truth affect, is a term coined in 1925, explaining that the more someone is exposed to falsehoods, the more likely they are to eventually believe them.

-Vesper Lynd was named after the canonical hour of Vespers, because both are right around Cocktail/Happy Hour.

-There are none so ignorant as those who refuse to learn.

-And the answer is “no” they weren’t capable of ordering drinks. Just saying.