Putting the Cock Back in Cocktail: Mixing the Proper Old-Fashioned

Is there any cocktail that gets people as lathered up about technique as the Old-Fashioned? If there is, I don’t know about it.

Come and have a drink with the unwashed.







6 Comments

  • Dave Zoby

    September 9, 2014

    Okay Ray,

    You asked for some notes on your latest video and here they are: Remember, I was a licensed bartender in the 90’s. From December, 1994 to May, 1995, I slung more booze than a frat boy at a jungle party. The big drink then was Sex on the Beach, which I perfected by muddeling an actual peach in the glass.

    This video is on Old Fashions. I like the prose here. This series always offers great prose, and I truly appreciate that. As I always say, if the script isn’t worth a damn, the whole thing will suck. The script here is great, but I wanted it to keep going, some voice-over work as we saw in some of your other videos: Gin, Getting Numb with Rum, Sugar My Rim and Tequila Fucks Me Up.

    I like the subject: The Old Fashion. I always enjoyed making them. (I bet you didn’t know that 91% of all Old Fashions are consumed by white males between 39 and 79 year old. I bet you didn’t know that.)

    Anyway, you do some antics, the single-ice toss and catch, which is nice. I saw that in a Tom Cruise movie, I believe and it’s cute. You’ve got it down. Keep doing it. But there’s another sort of bicep pose you do, a switching of angles at minute 1:34 that I find arrogant and, quite frankly, phony. I mean, it only changes the angle of the booze going into the shaker. Does it make the drink better? It leaves me asking: why?

    I like the upbeat, fabulous music. I reminds of Richmond, 1996, when after work, all of us bartenders used to go to an all-night club called Fielding. We got so drunk that there exist no word in the English language to describe it. Some of your fan-boys like Mickey might call it “wasted”, but this was much more than that. And I know you love that movie Barfly that shows alcoholism, but this was a different case. I refuse to explain.

    What’s the fucking deal with the bolus of ice now so popular at bars? I see you drop a wad of ice into a high-baller at 2:04 and I just shake my head. That’s bush-league, baby. Those new ice wads REDUCE the surface area on the booze. They’re weak and I can’t believe you’ve gone that way. Go back to crushed ice for pete’s sake.

    I like the effort you put into the twist. That fucking twist of lemon is probably bigger than….sorry, I lost my train of thought. But the twist looked huge, menacing even. Do people want nine full inches of lemon rind in their drink? Ask yourself that.

    At 2:34 you change gears–it’s a new scene and new lighting. I see you shake Texas Pete or Tabasco into a drink, and I say, hey, what happened to the Old Fashions? There’s no explanation. Are we making something new? What are we making here?

    At 3:43 there’s another weird arm pose. I see you’ve been working out for Christs sake. If I were a paying customer, say out with a date, I would have the immediate impulse to reach across the bar and smack your handsome face. I wouldn’t tip. Why would I when you’ve been flaunting your physique in my Lady Friend’s face all night. I think you should shelve that move altogether, pal.

    In the end, the video is a success. The music got me dancing. Will you ever do anything with tropical drinks?

  • Scott

    September 11, 2014

    Jeez, Dave … nICE bucket of you don’t get it … unlike your recent award-winning paragraph – uh, I mean, sentence. (Yes, it would appear that you, Micky, Ray, and others just give each other a hard time for fun while getting some points across. Please take this missive in that vein.)

    Aw. If an insecure male is worried about the bartender’s physique in front of “my Lady Friend’s face” … well, then it could be argued there may be greater concerns than the structure of ice. Perhaps there may be unforeseen benefits later in the evening when she is on top, closes her eyes, and thinks of him instead of you. Any excuse to not leave a tip, Mr. Castanza?

    Maybe sit at a table and stay away from, in your case, the threatening, muscular, and emasculating bartender, but then try not to ogle those in black dresses bringing drinks with any misconfigured ice in them. Crushed? ice. Did you tend bar at Sonic Drive-In? Could explain the interest in tropical drinks, but will assume you are trying to be funny. Yeah, when I hear of a dimly lit underground jazz bar near the Wyoming border I also think about needing a little umbrella in my drink … it’s the only thing missing! No fan(boy) of icebergs, either, but to each his own. The Fried Banana Sandwich (Velvet Elvis?) at rAyCE’S is a pretty astounding as it is unique, and could be considered a ‘tropical’ drink. Have you ever had that concoction? or cuntcockion (the t is silent)

    The 1976 ‘baseball’ film Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings has a scene where presentation does make a significant difference, not in the basic product itself, you are right, but in the perception and reception of that product by such as those referred to by Edward Bulwer-Lytton as the Great Unwashed. Hoi polloi, the plebs, etc. youtube com/watch?v=bCJ_INhdW9M See from 23:00 to 27:35. Yours, Ray’s, my, and others’ reaction to the effect may be that of James Earl Jones’ character at 26:36, but there obviously is something to it for many others – and if it generates more money in the cigar box at the end of the day, it is not to be disregarded. Granted, it is Hollywood and the soundtrack comes out of nowhere. Cake walk. Kick that mule! I have not read the novel upon which the film is based, but it likely provides more insight to this phenomenon.

    Besides, like the batter coming to the plate at (43:28), you do something so much you have to do little things just to keep yourself entertained. Sometimes superfluous things are done just because it looks cool and not everyone can do it – or be able to adequately “pull it off” even when one possesses the ability to do it.

    Three-way? (15:08–15:28) “Oh, no! You didn’t say nuttin’ about no threes-ees!”

    As with Dave, there is no argument that this is another successful entry in this literary-infused series. Please keep up these highly-entertaining productions.

    As I look around on the web at other video attempts by non-cocktologists … not … even … close.

  • Dave Zoby

    September 15, 2014

    Okay Scott–1976, I remember it like it was last week. I do, in fact remember The Traveling All-Stars. My mother took my brother and I to it. She dug into her enormous purse and found the bills to get us into the Hilton Theater, which even then, was falling apart and only offered second-run films. The floors were tacky with spilled cola. It was the last theater in Newport News where you could sit in the plush red balcony seats. Couples made out up there, it was said.

    But we were probably too young, my brother and I, too untested to the world to understand what Bingo Long’s was driving at. I remember bitches, and knife fighting, and “entertaining” blacks. But I missed the depth of the flick, because I wasn’t even a teenager yet. Thanks to you. Scott, I watched it again Sunday. And these are my observations: 1. James Earl Jones holds a bat like a woman. 2. The movie, as a whole, is corny, too talky, a little surprising for a Berry Gordy project. 3. Richard Pryor had all the making of a super-star, even then, boated on cocaine and booze. At 26:45 the All-Stars have to dance their way into town. Their uniforms are ridiculous. They have their hair parted, greased back. The look on James Earl Jones’ face is exactly the look on my face when I’m presented with something that is patently false, as in the latest “cocktail” video wherein Ray spins and catches the cube of ice. The theme here is disbelief. At 44:42, when the All-Stars have to play a white team in front of a hostile audience, the fat, white catcher says, “What are you looking at nigger?” We knew it was coming. It was coming as soon as I sat my ten-year-old ass down in the theater, circa 1976 and began fiddling with a huge pack of red twisslers. Perhaps I was high on cornstarch, but at 117:06 when Billy Dee Williams (slightly more handsome than Ray, I might add) places a Baby Ruth into the gas tank of a 1932 Ford, I thought it was the greatest thing ever. But remember, I was ten, I had no idea about Civil Rights, or Jim Crow Laws. I existed in a sort of gel of ignorance, totally stupid, willing to live my whole life in the sheen of motor oil slicks as they spread upon the marina where I went to peer down into the water at minnows.

    The problem with nostalgia is that it is completely untrustworthy, Scott. Do people remember the cool, fruity taste of a New Old-Fashion, or do they remember the awful hang-over thereafter? Did they make love after consuming three in a row, or was it that last one that tore their marriage apart? The drink itself is a lie. There never existed this “better”, more pure time in America, where the cars were nicer, the economy more sound, our war efforts more pure. You have to have a child-like mind to think that you have descended into the 1930s just by walking down a few steps and ordering a drink that sounds cool. These days it’s not so much speakeasy, as an engine of commerce. Outback restaurants have nothing to do with Australia unless you are a fool. Nostalgia is such a fuck like that. It leads you to foolish conclusions about the world if you refuse to call it what it is. It plays on notions, not reality.

    That’s okay, but when I pumped incredible amounts of liquor into the hordes, I made no apology. Richmond, back in the 90s, you felt partly responsible for the city’s decay. I didn’t try, as Ray does in his latest production, to call it art. And that’s what I want to talk about on this site. Can art be commerce too? Is the intention to create something beautiful ruined when you put a price tag on it? That’s what I was getting at Scott. Ray has never been able to give me a satisfying answer to this question because, as I suspect, he’s not sure himself. You can see that he is unsure of the answer at 1:26. You can see it on his chiseled face. Go on a Friday night. You can see it in the well-dressed patrons, as they dance, unsure of themselves, but holding on to their partners as if, when they let go, they’ll fall off into space, unrecoverable and lost forever.

  • Scott

    September 15, 2014

    Years ago before cell phones, answering machines and the wide use of e-mail, we had a pink pad of paper to take notes of incoming phone calls for others who “were out” at the time that read at the top: “While you were art.” Funnier back then, I guess.

    Aw, you took it easy on me, Dave. I was bracing myself. Oh, well. You could only hit the weak pitch that was thrown. BLTAS&MK is just a B-movie, no argument there. Didn’t mean to equate AG with the 1930s. Just an old flick that crossed my mind about presentation … given my limited background, the business of AG is barren of nostalgia for me as it surpasses most of the other professional hospitality experiences I have had, much less those in The Fart. Anyone can feel as sorry for me as much they want – or ignore me completely.

    Art … Labor …
    > And that’s what I want to talk about on this site.

    And I would have sworn it was something else … please forgive me in advance if I do not consistently live up to this expectation, or at all.

    > Can art be commerce too?

    Historically, hasn’t it appeared that commerce can engulf, bastardize and devour just about anything, even something as frail and subjective as art? Two bits a gander. Doesn’t it seem that art can be just anything to anyone … often simultaneously?

    > Is the intention to create something beautiful ruined when you put a price tag on it?

    Money again.
    I’d have to say no. Beauty is subjective so I am not sure there can be absolute correlation in that quiry. Depends on the service/product, who provides it and the nature of it, why it was created – and those who are perceiving/experiencing the event or benefit, including the artist …

    As intrinsic the concept of beauty is … if I was a starving artist, my work could get a lot more “beautiful” to me when I put a price tag on it to obtain a hot meal. Now, is it still art if it doesn’t sell? Sure. But how can it stop being art once it does? What if the artist dies before it is sold? Other than raising the price on the tag … how in that artist’s dead eyes did it ever cease being art? Art and beauty seem to me to be very relative concepts, which resist the comfort for some of absolutes.

    Some prostitutes (of any kind) may argue the necessity of a price tag. When provided the opportunity I know I am a whore and getting used like one. The concepts of Labor and Art are closely aligned, as is the compensation (the horror!) for both. One can get Chief Seattle or Marx/Engels about it in terms of it getting fucked up with “price” but theory and practice of most things are not so closely aligned.

    > Go on a Friday night. You can see it in the well-dressed patrons, as they dance,
    > unsure of themselves, but holding on to their partners as if, when they let go,
    > they’ll fall off into space, unrecoverable and lost forever.

    Insecurity again.
    Just come in for Great drink/food most at ‘meet the customer halfway’ prices – too lazy to do it at home? Yeah, at times … but mostly because I don’t want a bottle lying around the house for various reasons. By definition, is not art superfluous? – not that I hear anywhere in the video the word ‘art.’

    Maybe it is the bar I am holding onto and dancing with, less I spin off into space.
    May do your suggested recon some Friday, but personally tend to leave before any dancing in public breaks out. Sax is usually too loud for my geezer self.
    Was unaware dancing ever goes on there.
    Seems to be two general crowds: pre-music and music.

    By the time the tunes crank up, I’d rather be doing the horizontal mambo at home.
    (But I am positive that is not what you want to talk about here.)

  • Frank

    December 8, 2014

    Dear Mr. Harvey,

    First, I apologize for using your blog in an attempt to contact you directly, but I saw no other alternative. My wife Julia and I are acquaintances with one “David Zoby”. You may of heard of him by chance? He is a professor of english or creative writing or both, at some obscure community college in the middle of Wyoming. A big fish in a little pond, if you will. Anyways, he highly recommended that we pay a visit to your church of literature and philosophical bantering: Ace Gillett’s, which we are planning on doing Saturday December, 13th. In fact, we have booked a room in advance at The Armstrong so that we may imbibe to our heart’s content and then stumble and ride the walls to our room afterwards.

    My wife and I both hope that you will be leading the sermon that night, or if not, can at least make a guest appearance. Dave and his “Lady Friend” have informally committed to attending that night as well. We look forward to it! Cheers.

    Kind Regard,
    Frank

  • Ray

    December 14, 2014

    Hi Frank!

    I apologize for not seeing this sooner.

    It was a great pleasure to meet you and your wife Julia tonight, and I thoroughly enjoyed the evening, despite the fact that David Zoby showed up.

    I look forward to the next time.

    Thank you for your comment, and thank you for dropping by.

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