Don’t order a martini. I’ve never met a martini drinker I enjoyed. This sentiment certainly can’t be applied broadly on every martini aficionado on behalf of every bourbon enthusiast, but it still stands true for me. Once your order starts to resembles that of a Starbucks coffee, I’m out. Up, up, down, down, dirty, filthy, dry, extra dry, kind of dry, one olive, two, three, an onion, a twist, a peel, gin, vodka – while you’re reciting your preferences, I’m backing away. While I’m generalizing, martini drinkers are the types to think they know best. They are stubborn. They make remarks such as, “I can’t believe an olive touched my drink. It just ENTIRELY, significantly changes the flavor.” (I don’t care if it’s true. I don’t want to hear that bullshit right now!) They scoff, they grimace. They pay with Amex. Their conversations revolve around, in some small way or another, wielding power. They regularly, not rarely, send back food. They wear untailored suits. They resent and are resented, if only be me.
Bypass the Maker’s Mark. Every man in America seems to have it in his mind that a glass of Maker’s on the rocks is a surefire way to win a heart, or at least a conversation; it is not well, nor Beam, nor a gamble. It sure seems expensive enough to impress. Listen, Maker’s requires neither the thought nor the palette sufficient to rouse a whiskey girl. A Maker’s Manhattan has only become standard due to alliteration, not taste. Sorry Maker’s! You’re alright but there’s certainly better.
Survey the selection. Nearly every bar nowadays stocks a bottle of Bulleit, and perhaps also a Bulleit Rye. A Bulleit on the rocks is the simplest path to success – it’s smooth and subtle and strong. That glass of “frontier whiskey” is Americana and simplicity and also, a high alcohol content. Other easily available options: a Knob Creek is what you meant to order when you eyed the Maker’s, and try it chilled; an Eagle Rare is smooth enough to appease even an unseasoned whiskey drinker; a Basil Hayden carries a name recognition with a flavor that easily validates it.
Full disclosure: I once ran into an old friend I hadn’t seen in a few years. After dinner, I navigated us towards my favorite bar, where the drinks are impeccable and the lovely bartender concocts a new sweet bourbon drink whenever we stop by. When it came time to pay up, we split the bill, which said bartender comped and discounted. Returning my receipt to the glass, I saw the guy had tipped $1. 1 dollar. Perhaps the only amount more insulting than stiffing. At first, the guy tried to claim my three drinks to his two gin and tonics somehow proved the bartender paid more attention to my empty glasses. Eventually, he caved and admitted he’d read some statistic somewhere that bartenders have the potential to make a comparable, if not greater, living per year than he could at his corporate desk job, and he didn’t find that fair. Listen: don’t do anything this guy did or said. Tip your damn bartender. Like mothers everywhere advise, watch how one treats their service staff. It’s indicative of who they really are, and it’s one of the earliest ways to detect who is worth weeding out. Treat your bartender as a human, not a liquor dispensing machine; mind your manners, your pleases, and your thank yous; don’t order beyond what you can afford; and don’t stiff a decent, hard-working person and expect a girl to follow you to the next bar. I deleted my number from his phone at the curb.
Strike a match instead. Perhaps this should be prefaced with a rehashing of the perils of cigarette smoking: sour breath, yellowed skin, lung disease, dull teeth, a persistent cough. Sure. That’s all true. But those who smoke don’t seem to regard that as is. Least of all after a few drinks. So if you’re going to smoke, grab a few matchbooks on the way out to the curb. Maybe you conjure up 1950s rebels with an implacable Midatlantic accent and side combed hair and therein lies all the perceived charm, but whatever the case, it’s charming as hell. It even leaves the lingering scent of campfire in its wake. Listen, it’s long been a tried-and-true to move to ask someone for a light. But you know how to really up the ante? When they ask, let them draw their cigarette to their lips, step towards them generously, flick that match, cup out the wind from the flame, and melt a heart.
Get off your damn phone. Walk into any bar in America and survey the barstools. Cast your eyes on anyone sitting alone. How many of them have a phone clutched in their hands? Nowadays, the smartphone has replaced the book, the meditative stare, the bartender banter, the newspaper, the board game, the television screen, and the physical friend. A quick survey will reveal: a mundane string of text messages, a Words with Friends battle, a few lines of novel cast on a 3”x4” screen, a Facebook newsfeed, and ostensibly, the glories of a well-connected world. Yet here we all are, as any curmudgeon will grumble, entirely isolated in our digital worlds. You know what’s really sexy? Someone who can sit alone in a bar without needing a device.
Don’t tell her you “try to avoid the brown liquids.” This line almost always precedes either a discussion of your intestinal tract or an admission of past regrets, neither of which will be conducive to a successful connection.
Don’t get drunk. Sure, alcohol calms your nerves, delivers clever anecdotes from your lips, and seems to cast a dulcet filter over whomever you’re glancing at. But monitor your intake. On an off-night with an honest friend, calculate just how long each drink maintains your wit before destroying it. Pacing is a delicate, yet crucial, science. When on a date, keep a glass of water nearer to you than your spirit, and sip nervously from this glass whenever compelled. You are likely at your most charming a drink and a half in. Your liver dispels a drink an hour. Calculate accordingly.