April 25th, 2008
In these times of global unrest and economic anxiety, I’ll admit that my concern over what is the proper platform on which to set my $10 cocktail is frivolous at best. Still, I continue to be plagued by the fact that, in the finest bars across our fair city, my drinks are consistently placed on flimsy paper napkins that quickly become wet and stick to the bottom of my glass, creating a moist mess that deeply dampens my enthusiasm for the entire cocktail experience.
At beer joints, this problem does not exist. Those places have stacks of sturdy cardboard coasters at the ready. After you take your seat and place your order, an attentive bar guy or gal will deal out coasters like a Vegas pit boss. Shortly thereafter, your frothy mug or frosty glass is plunked atop one of these colorful, practical discs and — no muss, no fuss — the bon temps can roulez.
In a cocktail establishment, the process is, of course, more refined and more involved. A drinks list is studied, the mixologist on duty is, perhaps, consulted to offer a recommendation or clarify a question on ingredients, history or flavor profile. Then, when the decision has been rendered, the magical matters of mixing, muddling, shaking and stirring commence, resulting in a custom creation that is carefully poured in the appropriate vessel and placed ever so delicately on (wait for it) a thin white paper napkin.
Look, I understand where our city’s serious bartenders are coming from. If I just spent 10 minutes crafting a drink based on an 1890 recipe found in an obscure pamphlet I discovered at a Paris flea market — a recipe that, after much experimentation, I had altered to incorporate a drop of liqueur made by Austrian monks from tulip stems and a dash of my own secret stash of homemade bitters — I would not want to serve said drink on a cardboard coaster trumpeting the “2008 Coors Light Spring Break Ultimate Swag Giveaway.” I get it.
Still, can’t we come up with a compromise? Sturdier napkins, perhaps? Custom doilies bearing, subtly, the logo of some high-end liquor company?
Let’s work on this problem, people. Once we settle the coaster conundrum, we can take a look at this global warming thing.