Sunday, June 22, 2014

Events from tonights gig...

What an odd odd evening...

I was hired to run the technology for a high end fund raiser just outside of Milwaukee tonight.
There were about 250 people for a sit down dinner in a room meant for around 200. It was very crowded with no room to sit to operate the gear for the presentation. My position was behind the bar.
I will just start listing the weird things that happened.

1. Being behind the bar and wearing a black tech operators shirt, I got asked to make drinks over a dozen times.
2. A bartender dropped off a very over poured glass of Bourbon to a lady then walked away. The lady tried to get her attention but to no avail. I asked if there was something I could do. She wanted her drink split with ice in both glasses. Everyone else was busy so I just grabbed two rocks glasses, iced them and split the drinks for her then went back to my sound board (2 feet away) no tip.
3. A woman dropped a glass out on the deck and a shard cut her foot, again being the only person behind the bar not doing anything she got my attention and asked for a bandage. I saw a med kit and grabbed a bandage. Her dress didn't lend itself for her to treat herself so I had her put her foot on a chair and slapped it on, again no tip.
4. A woman standing at the bar with two of her girlfriends grabbed two handfuls of her own bosom, snarled and declared, "well now they're too firm!"
5. A man at the bar talking to his buddies " What the "F"?? My handicap is now like an "f"ing" 23 or something...."F!!" His wife standing next to him must have been so proud. Oh the problems of the arrogant rich.
6. During dinner, I did not have a place to sit so I went out on the deck and found a chair. About 5 minutes later 3 guys came out, pointed towards me and said "now THIS guy's got the right idea", came over and introduced themselves thinking I was one of "them". After 5 minutes of private school woes, import car repair expense costs, they looked at me and all I could say was, "you guys know I'm poor right?" I explained I was just a hired support guy for them. "You know what Doug? you're ALRIGHT!" Their wives then came out,  joined in and eventually asked me to take a picture with them.
Drunk rich folks like me, go figure.
7. Again, while standing behind the bar, a woman comes up and asks me if I can turn the volume down. Now normally, that wouldn't be a problem for me, I always mean to please but I didn't have any audio playing. She was talking about the noise from all the people talking and cackling. Her request was valid.
8. The car I'm driving now has the best quirk. The left headlight won't come on unless you open the hood and slam it, poof, it comes on. Well I get out to perform the required maintenance and sure enough, one of the guys I was joking with was in some number of BMW. He sees me slam my hood with the light coming on and all I could do was give him the "how you doin'" head nod, get in and drive away. I told him I was poor.

crazy job.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Manhattan & Drunken Cherries...

My stint as a bartender had me searching for a better alternative to the standard restaurant Manhattan.
The original Manhattan was Rye, sweet vermouth and bitters. Most everywhere the Manhattan has become some sort of Whiskey, sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters drink garnished with a candied maraschino cherry, often the same cherry you would find on ice cream. People have been drinking these for years and I served hundreds of them. Most every restaurant uses something like Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth which I have to say is just horrible. It might be passible for the first day it's opened but it's a wine based product and oxidizes very fast and "turns" making a very funky cocktail.
There are other options in the sweet vermouth world. Many fine products from Italy and such but I have found the proverbial Holy Grail of Vermouths. Vya vermouth is a California product that is fantastic. Keep it cold and a bottle will last you a good month or so. It's around 21 dollars.
    Whiskey, where to begin. Personal preference, I enjoy a more spicy Whiskey. My Manhattans are made with Rye. A bourbon Manhattan is absolutely fine and I would never turn one down, Rye is just my personal preference. Blended Whiskeys like Canadian Club or something like that, in my opinion   don't stand up to bitters and vermouth and get sort of lost. I'm only going to have one cocktail so it's going to be a good one.
    Bitters, yet another hotly debated issue so again I will give my personal preference.
Angostura bitters can be found in most every restaurant out there. If you take a drop on your finger, give it a taste. It will remind you of Jagermeister. It has very similar properties.
I have found bitters from Fee Bros and my favorite are their old fashion bitters. What a great combination of clove and anise. They make many different flavors and are fun to play with.

On to the cherries...
Frustrated by candied cherries, I set out to try and make my own. My first batch was 4 quarts of pitted cherries in a bath of Bourbon, Triple sec, cherry brandy, simple syrup and Vya.
I then added a star anise and a cinnamon stick to each quart jar. A little goes a long way. In my future batches, the cherries will sit on the star anise and cinnamon for only a few weeks then get pulled.
Let them "Pickle" for a couple of months and you're ready to make drinks with them. I gave some of the cherries to a bartender in Green Bay who said he liked them but they were very "boozy" and was looking for something a little sweeter. I could see his point and it made me re think my process.
Right now I have 3qts sitting on half simple syrup and half triple sec. I am going to let those sit for 2 months and replace the liquid with my bourbon/cherry brandy mixtures and see how that works.

My variation on a Manhattan.

2oz Rye.
1/2 oz of the aged cherry liquid
1/2 oz Vya vermouth
5 dashes of the Fee Bros. bitters.

Combine in a pint glass with ice and stir.
Pour into a martini glass or over ice in a rocks glass (your preference) and garnish with two of the cherries.

Drink responsibly...

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A first for me...

Well this is a first for me in show biz...

Arrive to a venue with a crew and a truckload of gear to set up for a one off visiting show by a separate division of a regular local client.
Meetings, gear selection, phone conferences, yada yada the whole bit.
A car pulls up with a trailer and starts unloading gear. Not unusual at all.
What took us both by surprise is we started loading into the same ballroom. The other Project Manager and myself looked at each other with one eyebrow up.
I asked who he was loading in for, he told me. Same client.
I asked him if he was setting up for the vendor showroom. "No, we're doing the General Session"
huh, were we. We decided to have a quick game of rock, paper, scissors to see who got to do the show. I finally got ahold of my contact and questioned her about the gig. She cancelled us and hired a much cheaper DJ company from KANSAS CITY!!! who does work for them in MO.
Problem, they never told us. I explained to her that I already had a hotel room, a truck driven to WI to pick up the gear and three techs to help me build.
She apologized and told me to bill response?
"Oh, we will..."
The funny part is the show is for 240 people. The biggest screen they had was 6ft x 5ft.
Yes, I said 6 feet by 5 feet. That screen would be great for 6 people around a dining room table.
Looks like the less expensive company has to do a little sub renting...
Nice guys but, come on!!