Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Pleasant Surprises on the Sunset Strip, followed by Margarita Blues in the Valley

Why is it so freakin' hard to find a decent margarita in an average bar? High-end places hire savvy bartenders who make some wonderful concoctions, like the rosemary margarita at X bar in LA or Poste's lavender margarita in DC. But, when dive-bar hopping, is it too much to ask for an imbibable tequila classic?

But, let's start at the beginning. On Sunday, we kicked off Khristina's week - o - birthday fun. We had a fabulous time at Saddleback Ranch in H-wood. We noshed on the perfect greasy, cheesy, fatty Sunday / morning-after fare and drowned in "bottomless mimosas." At $9.99, I can assure you we got more than our money's worth!

The manager, a Georgia transplant, charmed us with his Southern drawl, as did our adorable waitress, Dawn, an aspiring pop-star. And, the strolling musicians kept everyone lively strumming 80's punk tunes.

We ended Phase One of Party Day with Khristina riding the mechanical bull, after we were treated to a crazy-decadent chocolate chip cookie sundae in peanut butter sauce. (porn on wheels.) And, it was on the house in honor of special day. Who knew Sunset Blvd. had become so friendly?

Next, we went dive bar hopping in the Valley. This is where things turned a bit ugly. Not because they were dive bars. Not because it was the Valley. But, because in one of them, I met one of those rare-yet-horrfiying creatures, the bartender who hates customers.

No smile. Pissed off to be there. She had probably worked there since before the drinking age was 21, and will probably be there til she dies. (Bless her.) But, I wouldn't take up space on my blog for either of those reasons. Everyone has a bad day. It was her drink that got under my skin.

We ordered margaritas. Now, you may say that's a mistake in a dive bar... but, you know, I've met some awesome, kick-ass, "undiscovered" talent slinging drinks in dive bars. I love fancy places, but ultimately, it's all about who is standing on the other side of the rail. (per my rant in last year's Debbie Downer at the very high-end Cafe Milano in DC)

Basically, this lady's margarita was everything I hate in a drink. Sickly sweet, low on liquor and loaded with sweet-n-sour. So, for the next one, I asked her to make it a double, add extra lime and hardly any sweet and sour. She shot me a "fuck off" look. I explained that I'd actually prefer no sweet and sour, at all, to which she retorted, "Then why'd you order a margarita?"

Wow. That pretty much said it all.

Firstly, even in bartending school (many years ago) I learned that sweet-n-sour is not so much an ingredient, as a topper, or a sweetening agent. Like simple syrup. It is absolutely not meant to be equal to the tequila!

As my cocktail palate has become more sophisticated, over time, I've banned sweet-n-sour from my house, completely. There is really no reason to even have it in my home bar. If I were a bartender, I'd probably even refuse to use it at work.

Not to mention, when using a high-quality tequila (or any spirit, for that matter) it is almost criminal to debase it with sub-par mixers. Its like eating filet mignon and smothering it in 1000-island sauce, and cooking it in "I can't believe its not butter." Just craziness.

Obviously, this has been bothering me since Sunday. So, for your summer celebrations, I thought I'd share are my "perfect margarita" and "heavenly margarita" recipes. If wants to send over one of their own, by all means, leave it in the comments or e-me, and I'll post it. Punctuated by a milestone birthay celebration, all I can say is that life is just too short to waste drinking crappy drinks from people with crappy attitudes. So, don't do it!

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