“Rum and diet, splash of cran, tall, lighter on the cran, no ice. But you know that, RG.”
And I do, even though I toss in a few ice cubes because I know she likes just a few.
“Try this, I love the bouquet. I think you will, too,” says the manager to the girls in the expensive black dresses that they would comfortably wear anywhere in South Florida, but never anywhere in the Keys except in this place.
“Vodka and diet, RG. I’m diabetic,” he says every time I ask if he’s ready for another, every time I already know he’s diabetic, because once–only once–I poured a vodka and Coke–but questioned it before he even sipped it.
“Take it away,” gestures one of the girls with a half wave. “Just get it away,” she adds with a slight wrinkle of her nose. The manager doesn’t hesitate.
“I used to be a Navy Seal,” says my splash of cran’s husband. “You know, RG, when I was 100 pounds thinner.” And as he laughs, I wonder what it would be like to have this couple as my grandparents.
“I know my wines,” asserts the girl to the manager. “I know!”
“I’ll drink that margarita if he won”t,” says the grizzled man with the fake fur cap who always drinks vodka and tomato, gesturing to the “terrible” margarita I have just served to a cross-over regular from my restaurant who also frequents the local bar I now happily tend a few days a week. My regular slides it back toward him. “I don’t think so,” he says as he takes a gulp.
“Seriously, take it away,” says the girl to the manager who wants nothing more than to close early this Sunday even as he tries to ply the two girls and a man with small quantities of good wine that doesn’t measure a full glass. And now they are here to stay, at least until he plies them with enough of the good enough free wine.
“This one’s on me,” I tell the quiet man who always orders a single rum and Coke before he silently slips away from my bar without so much as a hello or goodbye. He does so on this day, too, even though the rum is on me.
“Hey, great to see you tonight! How long has it been? Months? Years? Welcome back! This round’s on me,” says the manager, extending his hand to a handsome one who returns nothing in kind.
“Are you kidding? You changed every battery in every smoke detector in my house. These are all on me!” I say to the gentle soul who has bought me a peaceful night’s sleep–finally–with this pain-in-the-ass favor.
“Remember your pour line,” says the manager to my bartender friend. “Enough with the over pours.”
“I wish I could remember everyone’s drink like you do,” I say to my friend who comes on the night shift after me. “I think they are getting tired of reminding me what’s what,” I tell her.
“Don’t worry about it. You’ll get it soon,” my friend tells me. “Meanwhile, just ask them!” she laughs.
“To the line,” says the manager to my bartender friend. “Except for them. Them! Okay? Okay,” says the manager, only slightly angry.
Local bar, well drinks. Upscale restaurant, top-shelf entitlement.
Once a week I take myself to dinner to a place that screams Fort Lauderdale/Miami/Palm Beach. Once a week I am reminded why I love my job at the local bar just a few doors down the road.