My nominee for the worst bartender ever

It is not often that service is bad enough to be worth writing about. Tonight’s bartender in London was something special.

After dinner a few of us ordered drinks in the hotel bar. The menu was somewhat limited (after hours room service menu), but one of the cocktails they offered was a Martini. The only Gin they had was Tanqueray.

I ordered a Tanqueray Martini, straight up, with olives. Not particularly complex. They also had only one vodka; my colleague ordered an Absolut Martini with blue cheese olives. Surprised when he took the order I asked if they had blue cheese olives. He confirmed, and I asked to change my order to a Tanqueray Martini with blue cheese olives.

You are probably thinking that I am grumpy that I didn’t get my blue cheese olives. If only that was the biggest problem with my order. Even if I’d gotten a Martini on the rocks with regular olives, it wouldn’t have been that noteworthy.

20 minutes later, however, what arrived was lukewarm, had no olives, and didn’t smell like gin. It also wasn’t quite clear, slightly yellowish. After a bit of conversation we determined that what we’d gotten were two glass of warm vermouth. When we said we didn’t want them, he said ok, but that we should pay anyway. He even brought out the bottle of Martini brand vermouth to support his case that he’d made us exactly what we asked for. Incredibly, all the discussion of olives, Tanqueray, and Absolut had been completely ignored, as had the traditional definition of a Martini.

Even if you have no idea how to make a Martini (in which case I you need to find a different line of work), what on earth is going through your head when there is all of this talk of Tanqueray and Absolute and blue cheese vs regular olives?

Giving up on getting a Martini, I ordered a Stella (primarily because I’d seen someone else get one correctly). My colleague ordered a Jameson’s and got a Jack Daniels.

Amazing.

— Max

8 comments so far

  1. kelly on

    Likely a French waiter. I’ve ordered a Martini in France and received vermouth on the rocks.

    • Max Schireson on

      Not French. I could have forgiven him if I order just “a Martini”. But a “Tanqueray Martini with blue cheese olives” and an “Absolute Martini with blue cheese olives extra cold” both arriving as room temperature vermouth???

  2. Bob Kimble on

    Max, you definitely have a case there. You should have traveled to Scotland instead — at least those guys understand the meaning of “single malt!” 😀

  3. Lily Teng on

    Did you guys end up staying at a cut-rate hotel, hence the atrocious bar “service?” Sorry about that but yay 10gen! 😉 (I have a feeling that the answer is no though…)

    • Max Schireson on

      I wish! When you see the bill you will be mad at the bartender all over again…

  4. cutlass2011 on

    perhaps a case of ‘two peoples separated by a common language’ methinks

    • Max Schireson on

      Wasn’t James Bond British?

      I did wind up drinking beer….

  5. Alan Fletcher on

    Max – this doesn’t surprise me, in England you should drink beer, not these fancy schmancy drinks….. Alan


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