Fancy-shmancy restaurants serve fancy-shmancy cocktails full of ingredients you’ve never heard of, so that you will pay too much to get drunk on something gross and then, because you’re drunk, buy more and more expensive food and wine than you planned to and then, the next morning, wake up gout-y, dehydrated, and poor, wondering where it all went wrong. Don’t worry, the Times is on it:
a restaurant is way more likely to hand you a not-good drink than a bar that prides itself on cocktail conjuring. … restaurants have come to depend on these [cocktail] lists for extra revenue, which comes in two forms: the margin on the cocktails, and the extra cash that first drink of the evening may pry loose from a customer’s money clip.
“It’s an unspoken truth in the business,” said Eben Freeman, who used to superintend the bars operated by Mr. White’s Altamarea Group and recently moved to a similar job with AvroKo. “You’re hoping to get a cocktail sale in before they settle down with the wine list. The dark side is that they will drink the cocktail faster” than a glass of wine, he continued. “And it will affect their decision-making, and might cause them to get the steak for two. Or the more expensive bottle of wine.”
The only way to escape this endless, torturous loop is to stare down your server and decline the cocktail menu altogether. Stand strong, America! Only you can prevent Atomic Fireballs.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Gerard Depardieu is a little nutsy. After all, isn’t he the dude that was so outraged by the idea of paying taxes to his native France that he fled to Russia, and who claims to subsist on 14 bottles of wine a day? (Yes and yes.)
Well, according to Vanity Fair, he has written a memoir — sadly not yet available in English — in which he is candid about his days as a young grave-robbing, car-stealing, john-robbing thug:
In addition to stealing a car in his teen years—for which he went to prison—the actor claims that he also helped a man rob graves, digging up newly buried bodies and stealing jewelry and shoes from them. “At 20, the thug in me was alive and kicking,” he continues. Still working as a male escort, he writes, “I would rip some of [my clients] off. I would beat up some bloke and leave with all his money.”
It is precisely this hardened side of Depardieu that the actor says attracted Russian president Vladimir Putin, whom he now claims as a friend. “We could have both become hoodlums. . . . I think he immediately liked my hooligan side . . . the fact that I had occasionally been picked up off the pavement dead drunk.” Depardieu writes that his luck did not change in France until a gay theater talent spotter offered to pay for Depardieu to study drama.
Grave robbing can be a semi-noble pursuit: medical students used to have to sneak out to cemeteries at night to exhume bodies for research. It’s certainly one of the more challenging and unusual first jobs I can imagine. And in ineffable ways it probably prepares one well for being BFFs later on with one of the world’s most repellent plutocrats.
This Slate article offers wisdom for the many men who supposedly dream of quitting their mundane, workaday jobs and starting their own bars:
What would he tell a friend who was considering getting into the business? “I would tell them, ‘I hope you like being in the basement a lot, because more often than not, that’s where I find myself,’ ” Struble says. “I’m the guy schlepping kegs and unclogging toilets.”
Oh? “So many people I know have a glorified idea of Oh, you’re standing behind the bar and there are so many girls. That’s the fantasy. It’s not the reality,” he says. “If I knew the occupation I would have now during college, I would have gone to refrigeration school or plumbing. I would not have gotten a master’s in education.”
Plenty of us sometimes wish we’d picked another major, but what else do bar owners mess up? “Make sure you are able to get a long-term lease,” Struble says. “You can be the most successful place in the world, but if your landlord decides in three years that he’s going to double your rent, are you going to be able to cover it? It’s not sexy, but I’ve seen people flame out.” Little about owning a bar, it seems, is very sexy. This should be obvious, since you’re running a highly regulated gathering place for drunk people.
Um, seriously. I have never in my entire life met someone with this fantasy. Starting an artisanal belt-making operation using high-quality, locally sourced leather, sure. Starting a hip coffee shop that’s also part laundromat and maybe part used book store, absolutely. But a bar? That never seemed romantic, just tedious and terrifying in equal measure. Have I just been hanging out with the wrong crowds / not enough men? What’s your small business dream?
This Business Insider video (via Slate) points out that since cheap liquor is marked up more than pricier liquor at bars, it makes more sense to buy the expensive stuff. You’re spending more money but you’re getting a better value for your dollar.
It is true that knowing how much a draft is marked up (456%!?!) could really affect your ability to enjoy that glass of swill. (Sorry, beer.) But will you appreciate an expensive bottle of wine more because you feel like a savvy spender as well as a fancy-pants connoisseur? It probably depends on whether you enjoy expensive wine more than the regular stuff to begin with, and can afford it.
Beer is not only cheaper than a glass of wine, usually, it’s also less of a rip-off. Now if only it tasted better.
Bottom-shelf mixed drinks are as much of a rip off as draft beers. Good to know.
Apparently we here in our shining city on a hill (the US), unlike Russians, don’t like gifts, or business associates showing up at our houses unannounced. At least we don’t according to a fascinating Mental Floss experiment in DIY translation:
It’s not easy to find out what the non-English speaking world thinks of us, as it is another unique peculiarity of Americans that most only speak one language. But Google speaks many, even Russian. So with Google’s help, I set out to learn more about американский этикет, or, Russia’s take on American etiquette. (Note: We welcome any translation help from Russian-speaking Flossers.) …
“Business gifts in the U.S. are not acceptable. Moreover, they often cause suspicion. Americans fear that they could be construed as a bribe, and in the United States that is strictly punishable by law.” (Национальные особенности этикета в США)
“Showing up at a business associate’s home uninvited in the United States is not acceptable. You may be invited to a picnic if you’ve known each other for several years and are social outside the office. As a rule, the invitation will be only on a weekend, and you don’t have to prepare for something extravagant. Everything is the same as ours, only with far less booze. Bring something sporty – ball, badminton, Americans are certainly fervent fans of these things.” (Деловой этикет по-американски)
You need to stake a claim to two seats toward the exact middle of the train car. The “middle” part is crucial.
Bars! So alluring. So inviting. So terrifying to the uninitiated, the cash-poor, the afraid-of-doing-something-wrong. When I studied abroad in Denmark, everything about the drinking culture was more relaxed. Kids are allowed to buy alcohol starting at age 15 and virtually the only drunks you see stumbling about or yelling on trains are rowdy visitors over the line from Sweden, about whom Danes roll their eyes.
Once my friends and I stopped at a supermarket for beer on our way to one of Copenhagen’s zillions of parks, where we planned to drink and watch farmers bring sheep in for nighttime grazing. The guy at the check out patiently scanned each bottle and placed it, clinking against its fellows, in our backpack, until the backpack bulged like Santa’s shoulder bag. Finally he looked up at me and said, “ID please?” I gaped at him with the suavity of Urkel. He grinned and said, “Just kidding, welcome to Denmark!”
Help crowdsource funding for a bar and in return, get free beer for life. Crazy? CRAZY LIKE A FOX. The strategy worked brilliantly for Northbound Brewpub in Minneapolis:
Amy Johnson and her two business partners needed to raise $220,000 to secure a bank loan and fulfill their dream of opening a restaurant that served beer brewed right there at the pub. They went to investors who offered to give heavily for a voting share in the restaurant. But since the potential investors had no experience in the restaurant industry, the owners backed away.
And then came the idea from some friends and family who wanted to help out. “They were, like, ‘I’ve got a few grand, but I don’t have too much money,’ ” Johnson recalls. “And people kept saying this over and over, and we latched onto the idea. Why not just take a couple grand from everybody and then we’d have all the money we’d need?”