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Reflections: Ordering Drinks at a Restaurant

Reflections: Ordering Drinks at a Restaurant

Lemon Lime Orange Cranberry & Grapefruit Drop

Mitch |

Lara and I went to Soi 4 in Oakland last night. It’d been a while since we’d been there, and I was feeling like I wanted to have an up cocktail, so I smoked a bit and we headed over.

We sat down right away, and started in on the drinks menu. We’ve been going to Soi 4 for years, and the offering has been pretty stable the whole time — a couple of things with lychee, a saketini, good tall beers, and some pleasant vodka and rum-based fruit jumbles. I’ve probably had every custom cocktail on their menu at least once or twice, so I decided to order something different.

Earlier this year on SNL, there was a skit called “The Cougar Den”, in which an awesomely haggard Amy Poehler and a puffy Cameron Diaz talk about bagging younger men. It’s done in a talk-show format, and the hosts are all drinking something called “Tartinis”, which they find too tart. Ha ha.

So I figured maybe this Tartini is a thing? Probably some kind of sour vodka martini where you can’t taste the alcohol and there’s probably sugar on the rim of the glass? Anyway, our waitress came by, and I ordered one. She didn’t know what went into a Tartini, but said that if I told her, she’d get the bartender to make one for me.

Shit got a little confusing then. Later, Lara would say that I was being “misunderstandable”, and that may be true, because I remember talking a lot, but it’s sort of blurry. I said something to the effect of, “Well, I don’t know what’s in the drink, but my guess is that it’s a fruity, shaken vodka martini, served up, and that it is very sour.” The waitress was being helpful, and asked if maybe it had Buddha’s hand in it? I said that it probably didn’t, but maybe the bartender knows what it is, and if he doesn’t, I will order something else. But the waitress was sticking with it and I was on a roll trying to describe this indescribable thing (because either a) the drink does not exist, or b) I had nowhere near enough information about it to get anywhere close to the actual recipe).

At this point I started to wonder what my responsibility as a restaurant diner is when ordering drinks. I think there is a fundamental difference between ordering a drink from a waitress versus from a bartender. Were I talking directly to the bartender, and he didn’t know what a Tartini was, he’d probably ask me what was in