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The Barmaid Blog™: Life for a 30-something Manhattan Barmaid


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Behind the Bar
"Hey, honey, can you guys make a Benton's Old Fashioned?" asks the bedheaded hipster who looks too skinny to support life.

It's a relatively slow moment for a Friday night, so I take a second to appraise him and his friend. Of the nine thoughts that cross my mind in that moment, including the obnoxious juxtaposition of "honey" with "guys," I settle on replying, "I make a great Old Fashioned, but I have to admit I don't know what a Benton's is, and I don't get stumped very often."

"So you're in need of a good stumping?" That's from Bedhead's buddy, a bespectacled dude with a big shrub of curly hair like he's auditioning for the lead in "Knocked Up 2: Electric Boogalo."

I raise my eyebrows. "And you're just the guys to give it to me?"

Bedhead says, "We had it on the Lower East Side a few weeks ago at this place called PDT, but we couldn't get in tonight."

"Dude, PDT's in the East Village," says Jewfro.

"I thought it was Alphabet City?"

"Yeah, Alphabet City is part of the East Village. The Lower East Side is below Houston."

"I thought that was NoLiTa and SoHo."

I smack my hand on the bar a few times. "Guys, do you need me for this conversation?"

"Sorry," says Jewfro.

"I've got news for you - the entire East Village is part of what used to be called the Lower East Side. Nobody ever called it the East Village until the sixties, and that was just so nobody would confuse the artists and hippies with the Hasids and Russians." I enjoy schooling people who claim to be New Yorkers, and I've only been living in the city for six years. "Now, what's in a Benton's Old Fashioned?"

Bedhead smiles. "Bacon."


"We wouldn't kid about bacon," he assures me.

"So it's an Old Fashioned... what, with a strip of bacon?"

"No," says Jewfro, suddenly animated. "It's an Old Fashioned with bacon-infused bourbon. And maple syrup."

"Instead of sugar?"

They look at each other. "I guess," says Bedhead.

"And everything else is the same? Bitters, orange slice? Cherry on request?" Jewfro grins, and I refrain from rolling my eyes.

"As far as we know."

"Well, I've got maple syrup around here somewhere, but I know I don't have any bacon-infused bourbon, much less know what bacon-infused bourbon is, so I really can't make this for you. We don't have any bacon, period - we just don't keep it lying around. But it sounds... it sounds interesting. What can I get you instead?"

"Just a regular Old Fashioned, I guess," says Bedhead.

Jewfro adds, "Sea Breeze for me." And then, after Bedhead turns to look at him, "What?"

I mix their drinks, making a note to look up PDT at some point, maybe even swing by and try the Benton's. That's one advantage of being fairly casual about my Judaism - I get to eat a lot of bacon if I want to.

I wake up on Saturday, and I open the curtains. It's a beautiful day, and I immediately start itching to get outside. I find Jenny in the living room reading a brief, a bowl with a spoon and a little bit of milk sitting on the coffee table, and a box of Froot Loops next to it. I unceremoniously sit myself in her lap. "I've been dreaming about bacon. Can we go to the Happy Days for breakfast?"

"Breakfast?" she smiles, brushing one of the last remaining bits of blonde hair out of my eyes. "It's almost 12:30 in the afternoon. And I thought you were going home after work last night so you could finish packing."

"I was lonely. So where are we on the diner?"

"You're like a little girl sometimes, you know that?"

"Am not, and I'm going to hold my breath until you stop saying so."

Jenny laughs and kisses me. I'm suddenly very conscious of my morning breath, so I climb off her lap and start clearing her dishes. "I'll go put my jeans on."

"More's the pity," she says, going back to her brief.

Forty-five minutes later, Jenny's nibbling on a spanakopita while I dig into pancakes, a couple of eggs over-easy, and several strips of bacon, extra crispy. Other than sex and maybe being high, I swear I don't know any better sensation than the taste of bacon, and I have to smile at those guys from last night. I don't know what compelled them to try finding it at The Bar, nine neighborhoods and an entire universe away from Alphabet City, but I can understand their quest.

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