As I drew closer I realized that there was no way this man was an actual bartender. With his build I figured he had to be one of Dempsey’s thugs who just happened to be charming enough to stick behind the bar. Why would Dempsey place a dummy behind the bar? And for the same reason I had pushed my luck with the men at the front door, I decided to ruffle this one’s feathers too. So walking straight up to him I assumed the most cocky and arrogant tone I could muster. “What would you recommend, my good sir?”
The man appeared to be very confused by my open ended question. To his credit, he managed to keep his composure quite well, though there was the ever-so-slight crack in the armor. “Excuse me sir?”
He was providing me with such a great opportunity and I just couldn’t help but have some fun with him. After all he was wasting my valuable time and I had to put up the appropriate image. It was easy enough to keep a straight face, I have had a lot of practice with that, so I repeated my question with even more attitude while looking the man straight in the eyes. Which was quite an accomplishment considering he was about half-a-head taller than me. “What would you recommend for me, my good sir?”
Again this faux bartender impressed me. Despite my abuse, small though it was, he managed to keep his composure as he offered a suggestion. “Whisky on the rocks sir?” I had to give it to Dempsey, he had well-trained men working for him and that was not cheap.
If I had been looking for a drink, I probably would have said yes, but that wasn’t what I was trying to do. What I really wanted was to break his composure. So, just because, I tried to put him into a tough spot, “That could be good, but… but no. I’m not feeling all too good about that option.” Rubbing my tongue around the front of my lips I waited for a second before venturing on. “How about…” I paused, trying to think of a specific drink that would be difficult to make. I was never one to think about what I was drinking. But I quickly thought of a classic and ordered it. “… a martini.”
The faux-tender quickly went to work referencing a sheet and he tried to make the drink. It was fun watching him struggle, but as is true with all good things, this soon came to an end. He quickly excused himself and went over to the other bartender. My bartender communicated the request and the other man simply nodded, issued a few orders that were well within the other man’s capabilities to make and, once satisfied the faux-tender could get through the drink orders on that end of the bar, made his way down to me.
When he came up to me he leaned over the bar and asked, “Sir?”
Seriously, a bartender has this skill too! I mean bartenders are typically good at getting their inquiries across, but come on, does everyone else in the world have that skill mastered? His question was simple enough but it was also all encompassing. He wanted to know if I needed any special liquor or if I had any other instructions. It was apparent that he was top-notch, no faux-tender here. With a smile tugging at the edges of my mouth I answered his question smoothly. “Bartender’s choice will be more than sufficient.”
With a nod he looked me over and went to work, deftly mixing the required alcohol for the martini. And honestly, I was rather impressed with those skills. Once all the liquor was in the shaker he began to mix the martini and, within seconds, had speared one of the olives with a flourish of his free hand before placing it over the glass so he could pour the drink right in.
With the drink made, he placed the shaker down behind the bar before sliding the martini across the counter top to me. I picked up the glass and gave it a cursory inspection before taking the first sip. I let the alcohol flow over my tongue as I absorbed the taste. This was without a doubt one of the best martinis, if not the very best, that I have ever tasted. If I hadn’t needed a clear head I would have been tempted to empty the glass, but I had my priorities. Either way I needed to compliment this man, so I carefully placed the glass down on the counter and withdrew my wallet. I pulled out a hundred dollar bill and offered it to him. To my surprise, he looked absolutely offended that I was offering him money of any kind.