Category Archives: Ranting and Raving and Misbehaving

Leigh Pujado’s rants from behind the bar.

You Can Get Drunk in the Morning But You Still Can’t Bring Your Pig to the Beach

Did you know that there is a special law in Florida that prohibits unmarried women from parachuting on Sundays, lest she receive jail time or a fine?  Well, fortunately for all of us unmarried dames, we shall no longer sit idly by on Sundays watching our married friends have all the fun.  We can head to the bars and start drinking as early as we like because as of July 10th, the Key West “Blue Laws,” which prohibit the sale of alcohol before noon on Sundays, have been repealed.

Long deemed outdated, the Blue Laws were intended to keep morality in check and butts in church pews on the Lord’s day.  While we may feel triumphant over the dissolution of an antiquated law on our books, many ludicrous laws remain, here in Key West as well as throughout this great, strange country.  Some of these laws are throw backs to a time when lawmakers were steered by the church’s moral compass and prudish, ignorant attitudes about sexuality.  Others are just inexplicably silly.

Test your knowledge of bizarre local and national laws.  No looking up answers on the internet!

1.  In Big Pine Key it is illegal to _____________ a Key Deer:

a.  protest

b.  molest

c.  smoke out

d.  impersonate



2.  In Key West, which species are protected by law?

a.  green parrots

b.  parrot heads

c.  chickens

d.  bubbas





3.  In Tampa, what must a woman not expose at a topless dance establishment?

a.  Her six figure salary gleaned from high rolling, horny suckers.

b.  Her cerebral cortex.

c.  Her deep disdain for her customer base.

d.  Her breasts.


1.  Oral ________ is illegal in the State of Florida.

a.  Roberts

b.  surgery

c.  argument

d.  sex





5.  With regard to “positions,” which of the following laws is on the books in Florida?

a.  Seat back upright, tray table secured for take off and landing.

b.  It is illegal for a woman to put a man between a rock and a hard place.

c.  Gassy on 1st, Sassy on 2nd, Jessica on 3rd, Faith is short stop, Inga’s catching, Sushi’s pitching.

d.  The only legal sexual position is the “missionary position.”



6.  In Alabama it is legal to marry _______________ but illegal to marry ________________.

a.  a monkey,     -a donkey

b.  your cousin,     -someone of the same sex

c.  your brother from another mother,     -your mother

d.  for love,     -for money










7.  In Pennsylvania, it is illegal for 16 or more women to live together because it constitutes:

a.  a lesbian conspiracy.

b.  an anti-male terrorist movement.

c.  a brothel.

d.  one week out of the month a guaranteed living Hell.



8.  If you are convicted of drunk driving in the state of New Jersey, how will this affect your vehicle’s license plate?

a.  You’ll never be allowed to apply for vanity plates.

b.  You’ll be forced to display a scarlet “D” for “Drunkard” on your plates.

c.  You’ll be forced to manufacture license plates from prison.

d.  Your plates will be fitted with neon flashers that display “Stay Back: ASSHOLE Driver.”



9.  In Fairbanks, Alaska it is illegal to feed alcohol to:

a.  Alaskans.

b.  Nebraskans.

c.  Bristol Palin.

d.  a moose.




10.  In Detroit, it is illegal to have sex inside a car unless the car:

a.  is a late model hatchback with an old Journey cassette playing in the tape deck.

b.  is a rockin’, then don’t bother knockin’.

c.  has a clearly displayed handicapped parking permit.

d.  is parked on the owner’s property.






11.  It is illegal to bring swine to the beach in the State of:

a.  sound mind and body.

b.  shock.

c.  the Union Address.

d.  Florida.


(1) b but let’s try c sometime and see what happens!  (2) c & unofficially d,  (3) a, b, c & d if she knows what she’s doing!,  (4) because of people like “a” the answer is d,  (5) The year 2011 and it’s still d,  (6) Ah, the last state in which marriage is a sacred union between a man and his cousin!  The answer is b,  (7)  Legally, it’s c, but anything’s possible with 16 women,  (8) a, but if I were the governor of New Jersey, it’d be d,  (9) d, possibly c…..I don’t know.  How old is the little dancing tart these days?  (10) d, but then what fun would that be?  (11) While pigs are a lot of fun at the beach in times of both serenity and crisis, the president prefers you keep them at home when he’s addressing the nation and Florida frowns upon their presence at the beach year round.

Poke Me Baby One More Time

I am not a Hipster.  And even though this is the “What’s Hot” issue of Bar Tab Magazine, I am not going to pretend to be one.  In fact, I am not even cool enough to be a part of this issue, but the longevity of my professional relationship with this magazine’s publisher (and the fact that he still owes me for recently providing transportation and “check out fees” at the Stock Island Hilton) dictates that I participate.  So here it goes:

I am not certain when exactly it happened, but sometime between the Reagan administration and the Tae Bo with Billy Blanks craze, I went out of style.  There was no singular, clear indicator that marked my exit from “Modern Generation X-er” to “Lady with Nostalgia-based Tourettes, a bad hip and three cats.” It must have occurred slowly, over time, like walking down a long hallway strewn with the shed belongings of one’s former glory days…

The poster of Kevin Bacon in Footloose.

The six pairs of Guess jeans.

The cute little coupe with the turbo engine.

The Pioneer stereo with 5-CD changer.

The interesting array of body piercings.

The Sub Pop t-shirt and killer CD collection.

The 9 pound cell phone.

(Ahhh, the 9 pound cell phone.   The coolest piece of equipment to call people up on simply to tell them you were calling from a cellular phone.)

But those days of basking in the the glow of my Ban de Soleil self tanner, listening to Ace of Base on my jeep’s tape deck are long gone.  Now I am just a working Key West stiff with an antiquated taste in music and a tragically unhip wardrobe.  And I’m not merely behind the times with just fashion and music, I’m resisting the changing tides of technology.   Don’t get me wrong, I love computers and smart phones, I’m just not comfortable with technology entirely replacing the traditional ways in which humans communicate.

Call me crazy but I like hand written thank you’s, tangible invitations that arrive by snail mail, the occasional phone call and once in a while, live conversation over a hot or cold beverage.  Oh I’ve tried to roll with the times.  I’ve gone digital, paperless, wireless; I’ve even cancelled my land line and learned to text message with the best of them.  But now, my old friend The Email seems to be on his way down the halls of defunctness along with your parents’ 8-track player and your brother’s Atari.  This is where I have to draw the line.

People don’t read their email anymore, giving exclusivity of written communication now to Facebook and I am resisting the damn social network like the state of Texas resists sex education.

Last Christmas I made the mistake of sending a Christmas party invite via email requesting an email RSVP reply.  With only 2 responses to the invite, I cancelled the party due to lack of interest.  When the invitees eventually (a week later) read their email invitations, my phone began to ring and my email inbox filled up with responses.   I was repeatedly quizzed as to why I had not put the invite out on Facebook.

“Because,” I said, “I emailed you.”

When did email become passé?  You’d have thought I’d asked my friends to page me from the arcade at the mall.

I get that there’s 500 million people on Facebook and I understand that you cannot hold ANY social gathering and expect people to attend without going through Facebook first.  Yes, it is a great way to share your photos and promote your artistic and business endeavors.  Most of my friends and family are on Facebook.  In fact, most of them friggin’ love it.  That doesn’t mean I have to like it too.  But since I’ve already resigned myself to being a feisty troglodyte, I may as well explain my beef with Zuckerberg’s pesky international contagion.

First of all, the very format which makes Facebook so popular is what makes it terribly public.  All that linking of comments invites 500 million people to your page and your personal business.  If your page isn’t already set to private, tell me who you are so that I can stop by your page, gather your personal info, look at your photos and friends, and then quickly commit a little identity theft.  I’m pretty sure I can figure out your mother’s maiden name, the high school you attended, and by all those enthusiastic birthday wishes, your date of birth.  Oh, and if you “check in” at a bar or restaurant, It’ll be easier to break into your house without getting caught.  And since I’ve looked at all your photos, I already know where all the valuables are located.

The other thing that really chaps my hide is how the entire institution encourages users to cyber stalk their friends, their friends’ friends and people they will never actually meet.  Whether we choose to admit it or not, cloaked in internet anonymity we all quietly spy on our estranged classmates, colleagues and lovers.  Worst of all, Facebook is working hard to ensure that every goddamned person you’ve ever met, from your buck-toothed neighbor in Fourth Grade to your colonoscopy technician, has the ability to connect with you, should you choose to accept their friend request.  Then of course, should you choose not to, you look like a snobby douche.

Every second, Facebook is updating the latest newsreel comments as users are commenting and commenting and commenting.  It’s a verbal diarrhea at the fingertips which lets you know what everyone is thinking about, from an important upcoming vote in the House to what flavor of bagel your sister ate for breakfast, and there’s no filter.

This isn’t normal communication, Folks.  This is an A.D.D. colony of rabbits on high grade cocaine.

I feel like we never truly talk anymore.  Maybe there’s the rub.  500 million people talking all at once leaves me feeling lonely and left behind.

I just want someone to talk to me.  Just me.  Not someone to comment on my pictures, or sign me up as a member of some cyber fan club or to virtual-poke me. And if you happen to be reading this from my blog’s Facebook feed (yes, I’m well aware that I’m a total hypocrite,) please don’t “poke” me.  That’s just weird, man.

I don’t want to just be Facebook Friends.   I want to be unfashionable, real, live friends who meet at The Porch and go interesting places together.   Who knows…if we hit it off, I may let you borrow my polyester double knit leisure suits and Barry Manilow albums.

(Hipster artwork at top by Pat Harpin)

How to Talk to the Kitchen Without Getting Hurt

In twenty years of working in the bar and restaurant industry I have to say that cooks, hands down, are the crabbiest, most volatile members of this business.  Don’t get me wrong, there a lot of cooks that I adore and respect, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t berate me at the drop of a dime and make me cry for asking if we could please substitute something else for the octopus infused scallion glaze.

All cooks, from short order cooks to Michelin starred chefs, are a different breed of humans.  How else could they spend countless hours over a hot grill for a laughable sum of money?  Key West line cooks tend to be cranky because it’s hot in that kitchen and they are tired and broke because they party too much.  Key West chefs tend to be cranky too because it’s hot in that kitchen, they are tired and broke because they party too much plus, despite years of culinary expertise, they receive very little recognition.

Feuds with the kitchen are common, namely because they see the job of a bartender or  server as an overpaid cake walk while we see them as slow, temperamental, sweaty people who like to give us a hard time.  Discerning which side is right or wrong is a slippery slope because we do indeed hawk their creations.  When customers gush that the food is great, we say “Thank you, I know!” and proceed to take all the credit and the handsome tip money.  But when something out of the same kitchen is amiss, we take none of the blame and throw our dear kitchen under the proverbial bus.

Cooks can get away with being angry and crabby because

  1. They carry knives,
  2. They work in a hot, sweaty kitchen with flames, burners and steam all damn day,
  3. They are constantly reminded how much more everyone else is making by selling their concoctions, and most importantly,
  4. They do not deal with the public.

Developing Détente between the kitchen and bar staff is crucial to ensuring a peaceful (ie non-homicidal) work environment and to keeping your customers happy.  Many of us know that an unhappy, maniac cook can literally ruin your income during a shift.  I’ve always found that going out of my way to be nice to the cooks works to my advantage.  Buy them a drink at the end of their shift, pay them a compliment, tell them you appreciate their work or even tip them out.  Sure it’s a form of ass kissing, but more than that it’s “self-ass-saving.”

Before I say anything further that may incriminate me, I am going to allow my dear friend, Chef Martha Hubbard to plead the case of the cooks:

CHEF MARTHA’S Rules for Kitchen Diplomacy:

“Pissing off the kitchen is the easiest thing to do on the planet!  “How Not To Piss Off the Kitchen” could be an entire book on its own. We are, as a whole, the most insecure egomaniacs alive!  You see, the Back of the House will ALWAYS have a grudge against the Front of the House based on the premise that despite making less money, if we, the Back of the House, did not make the food, then the Front, aka “the messengers,” would NOT have a JOB!

I took a vow of poverty 20 plus years ago to cook well thought-out, tasty food for people and the last thing any cook wants to hear is how much cash any waiter or bartender has made that shift!  Whenever some snotty little waiter walks into the hot, sweaty, balls to the wall kitchen and bitches that they have only walked with a couple hundred dollars that night, well then they deserve to lose a digit or two!  The best à la mode to that would be then asking for any “snacks” or if there is any extra food for them to eat because they are soooooo hungry!!  Poor souls!  So when I ask if they have any extra tips they don’t need to act as if I am the one who’s fucking nuts!!

Cooks are like dogs, feed us a bone and we will do anything for the Front of the House!  The number one rule with the kitchen is be respectful.  Being nice and polite will get you what you want from us especially if you can avoid making stupid requests.  People are stupid and diners for the most part do not know how to dine anymore!  Kitchen people put their heart and soul into every plate and when people want to rewrite a menu, I just want to go out there and ask these people where they live and go rearrange their house for them so that it suits me better!  Oh, and FUCKING VEGAN’S!  Seriously, Do not let them into a place that serves meat!”

Thank you Chef Martha!

(Martha Hubbard is a world renown chef whose culinary talents have been experienced in San Francisco, Maui, Bangkok, Portland and right here in Key West.   Many people rave about her scrumptious creations like domes made from Ahi Tuna and truffle laced soups but most folks don’t know that her breakfast hash browns are to die for!  Martha can still ride a long board and out-cook any cocky punk newbie fresh out of culinary school!   Her pet peeve is witnessing a waiter serve a bottle of Opus One from their sweaty armpit with their tongue sticking out.  For more than a decade, Chef Martha has blissfully cohabited with a bartender.  Martha will be on loan to Key West from Portland this season, cooking up spectacular things at Louie’s Backyard through May 2011.)


Bringing Sexy Back—Writers, Chefs and Food Porn

Q:  What could be sexier than food and poetry?

A:  Poetry that is about food!   Words slathered with culinary references, meter that tickles the ears as well as the appetite, and writers, (those sensory whores!) writing about humanity’s other favorite pastime.  (If you think I’m referring to baseball, please stop reading this and go back to the drivel on your Facebook page.)

The 29th annual Key West Literary Seminar “The Hungry Muse” is well underway this week and I could not be more excited about the theme.  Like a true grifter, I plan on attending the one and only free event on Sunday afternoon in which seasoned and scholarly poets such as Jane Hirshfield, Billy Collins, Roy Blount Jr and Molly O’Neill will be offering up utterings about edibles, as this year’s seminar explores the world of food in literature.

Word nerds and Foodies rejoice! This sounds like a recipe for a truffle scented Pushcart Prize with an R rating from Zagat.

Poetry geeks often wax rhapsodic about the hotness (not the exact adjective a poet would use) of a person who can write, while excitable eaters rant that there’s nothing sexier than a woman or a man who can truly cook.  This raises an interesting conundrum.

Which is hotter:  The Poet or the Cook? Let’s explore!

New Jersey Poet and Creative Writing Professor, BJ Ward maintains there’s nothing sexier than a woman who can write. He primes his new students by wielding a girlie magazine and announcing he is about to show them the sexiest woman in the world.  After building the suspense, BJ tears open the magazine to the centerfold page and presents a taped-in insertion of none other than the sexiest woman ever to walk the planet…….

(wait for it……)

That’s right!  Emily Dickinson.  She’s hot, I know.  Kind of makes you wonder what 19th century bloke hit that to inspire “Wild Nights!  Wild Nights!”

Writers, like Emily, have the ability to achieve a timeless sort of hotness, uninhibited by their own physical appearance in photos or even on television.  It is only what they had to say across the pages that truly matters.  Superficial hotness, like the kind we are inundated with on the E Channel or People Magazine, relies upon looks and clothes, hair and make-up, wealth and fame.  I’ll bet if we read a poem by one of those Kardashian sisters, no one would think she was hot.  I imagine it would go something like this:

I like my Prada

and enchiladas.

Life is a dream,

but sometimes I scream,

because my family is retarded

and I no longer get carded

and the photographers around here

only photograph my rear

Some people say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I think a thousand words is worth more than a picture.  Which is why reading “Leaves of Grass” is a much more titillating experience than watching “Transformers 3″, but if you place Shia and Walt head to head in a photo competition, the results may vary.











Even the homeliest of writers can be sexy.  How else could Bukowski have gotten laid?  No one really knows what Greek sex poet Sappho looked like but as the Bob Guccione of antiquity, her immortal words roused centuries worth of loins back when loin clothes were popular.

But what about our darling cooks.  Do their skills in the kitchen translate to overall hotness?

When it comes to glamorizing chefs, Food Network appears to be both a blessing and a curse.  While it has brought Americans into the kitchen, teaching them the joy and bliss of cooking from scratch, it has largely de-mystified the cook as a sexual icon.  Think about Emeril.  And the Barefoot Contessa.  When you make their recipes, do you dare picture either of them naked?  Heck no!  You might just get a little giddy about whom you may be enjoying their concoctions with, but no teenage boys seem to be tacking up posters of Paula Dean on their bedroom walls.

So why doesn’t anyone want to sleep with the chef?  Being enamored with a behind-the-scenes-talent is not a new concept.  People swoon all the time over a song on the radio and admit their secret fantasy about the musician behind it.  Even filmmakers have their fair share of non-actor stalkers.  Writers enjoy long lines of fans waiting to simply meet them for a moment and obtain their signature.  Hell, in 1999, I waited in line for an hour and a half to meet Carl Hiaasen and nearly peed my pants when he signed my book.  Do fans behave that way when Guy Fieri or Bobby Flay are signing cookbooks?  And outside of Michelin starred establishments, do people actually sit at their table and wish they could meet their food’s creator?

I recall a teenage crush I had on the dough boy at Zio’s Pizzeria in Omaha.  Every Saturday for like six months I went to Zio’s for lunch and silently watched this cute boy toss the dough up in the air and skillfully press it into the pizza pans.  In my 16 year old brain, it was so hot.  One day I finally mustered up the guts to talk to him.  While I don’t recall the exact words of our conversation, I do remember discovering he was a student at the alternative school which meant that either he:

A) exhibited severe behavior problems and had been in trouble with the law, or

B) was developmentally disabled.

Still, he knew how to toss that dough!

Anyway, while food can be very sexy, I think seeing chefs on TV rather than simply tasting their creations, hinders their hotness.  Emeril would be so much better looking if I didn’t know what he looked like.  And Alice Waters?  Please, don’t let me see her in action.  Let me just continue to taste her concoctions.  In general, the experience of tasting a great bite of food is hot, more so than watching how it was created.  The simple act of discovering a great recipe can be sexy in and of itself.

About a month ago I made a pork roast which I bathed in Ephemere beer, apples and apricot preserves.  I emailed the recipe to my buddy Landon with a quip at the end suggesting that this recipe was so good that when he makes it, he will want to take it out back and have sex with it.   After hitting send, I realized I had just suggested my friend debase a piece of meat and I felt a little bit ashamed.  And strangely aroused.

I think the sexiest book I ever read was Isabel Allende’s “Aphrodite-A Memoir of the Senses.” It should be the consummate segway between the cookbooks and the soft core pornography on bookshelves everywhere.  And I think this helps answer the conundrum posited earlier before I went off on these bizarre sexy tangents.  Food writing is the sexiest.  Sexier than poets, writers, chefs, and people like Rachel Ray who call themselves chefs.

So, combining the two as this years Literary Seminar has done, must be better than a candy coated, spun sugar orgasm described to you personally by Pablo Neruda.

After Sunday’s seminar at the San Carlos Institute, I’ll be at Better Than Sex on Petronia Street, sipping an Ephemere Adult Apple and reading EE Cummings.

Bye Bye Beer Thugs

In the Spring of 1990 I inadvertently became an Aheuser-Busch customer.  My underage friends and I were drinking Natural Light (in a can) which we purchased for the bargain price of twenty-five bucks a 12-pack from the enterprising older brother of one of our classmates.  His name, (and I am not making this up) was Tony Randoney and although he too was under the legal drinking age, he was a linebacker sized white boy with several stunning gold teeth, an appearance that superseded the necessity of presenting a valid ID.  His hulking pretense also facilitated a very lucrative price-gouging part-time gig for old Tony and not a single beer-seeking   teenager at Westside High School (including me) questioned his prices nor his beer selection.  So we paid Tony’s obscene prices, drank our Natural Light and pretended it tasted good.

By college we all realized that Natural Light cost far less than twenty-five bucks a 12-pack and was the official beer of the homeless.  Far from the clutches of our parents and outside of Tony Randoney’s canned beer racket, at college we existed in a free market and of the myriad of choices made available to college freshmen, none are more prolific (and present) than choices of alcoholic beverages.  The average freshman learns very quickly that at Frat parties alcohol, from the Everclear spiked punch ladeled from a garbage can to the Keystone Light beer can tower,  is simply a means to an end.  It is a vehicle to get people drunk so that they can either (a) have sloppy meaningless sex or (b) experience an extreme episodic loss of consciousness known as  “Black-out Drunk.”

By sophomore year most college kids figure out whether they want to be social drinkers or black out drinkers.  The former generally discover that beer is not merely a cheap way to get hammered, but is available in a multitude of bottled and draft forms varying in taste, color and appeal, and if consumed in moderation, can be enjoyed along with a little thing called “memorable experiences.”

I love beer.  I love the taste, the hops, the barley.  I love the bubbles, the cold, thirst quenching river of delicious fermented delight.  I love lagers and ales, Belgium Wheats and Irish Stouts.  I love frosted mugs and beautiful glass bottles and even lambics that call for stemmed glassware.  In college I could barely afford to pay my electric bill but I kept a decent stock of imported beers to enjoy.   Red Stripe, Newcastle, Dos Equis Lager and Guinness were generally on hand.  When Samuel Adams Boston Lager first became available in our state, my nerdy beer friends and I rejoiced that a domestic beer was finally up to snuff.

Then I moved to Key West which in the bar business might as well be known as Bud-Land and once again, I accidentally became an Anheuser-Busch customer.  I started drinking lighter and lighter beer, eventually settling on Michelob Ultra since its inception about ten years ago.   Looking back, I think I was simply the credulous victim of marketing, as Michelob Ultra was touted as the “runner’s beer.”    I thought, “Hey, I’m a runner.  This must be my beer.”

Ten years is a long time to be partial to one brand but recently I’ve made a conscious effort to make a change.   I am trying not to purchase or consume any Anheuser-Busch products.

A perfect storm of events led me to make this odd little decision.  The first thing that happened was actually Chris Shultz’s fault.  He opened up this awesome little bar earlier this year called The Porch which specializes in delicious craft beers.  Reading his beer menu and tasting The Porch’s offerings was a taste bud re-awakening.  It was like I’d been eating at McDonald’s for ten years and all of a sudden a Chez Panisse opened up on the corner of Caroline and Duval!

Shortly after becoming a faithful follower of The Porch’s Sea Dog Blueberry Wheat on tap, I happened to watch a documentary called “The Beer Wars” which actually was made nearly two years ago.  The film explores the seedy underbelly of the distribution side of the beer industry, highlighting how the giant three (Anheuser-Busch, Miller & Coors) have such a strong hold on the distributing tier of our nation’s three tier alcoholic beverage system, that this imbalance of power has created a monopoly which quells and often prevents fair competition between beer brewers.  My views on the Three Tier System is an entirely different blog (which I’ll write up soon, I promise,) but suffice to say, “Beer Wars” incites the viewer to scan the beer isle, to look past the rows and rows of Coors, Miller and Bud products, try the little guys of the beer industry and taste for yourself.

So, I’ve been tasting for myself and I realized that for the past ten years I’ve been drinking (and selling) beer flavored water.  In my quest for better beer I’ve discovered some tasty craft brews off on the side shelves at the local supermarkets and I hit up Conch Republic Liquors regularly for Dog Fish Head Punkin Ale and Left Hand Milk Stout.  (“Punkin” is not a typo.  The bottle says “Punk” and the beer is delicious!)

This past year I also found myself in the position of selecting and purchasing all the alcohol for a small, local licensed establishment.  We are only open in season and sell mostly wine and cocktails.  I made the mistake last season of only carrying Bud and Bud Light and holy cow, did I hear some major beer bitching.  “Bud?  All you have is Bud?!  That’s not even real beer.”

This season I have yet to purchase any Budweiser stuff to sell but circumnavigating the Big Bud people is not as easy as one might think.  Since the 2008 merger of Europe’s InBev corporation with Anheuser-Busch, AB-InBev is now the world’s largest beer brewer with 25% of the global beer market.  They own 1 out of every 4 beers!   Besides the well known Bud, Michelob and Busch families, they own Stella, Bass, Beck’s, Kirin, Hoegaarden, Shock Top Wheat and even Rolling Rock!  I was careful to select outside the AB-InBev family and last week we opened for the first time this season, offering a great domestic craft Pale Ale and a tasty imported lager.  To my surprise, I heard quite a few “What?  No Bud Light?” As if denying anyone access to watery flavored beer was an abomination.

So my great better beer experiment continues and just as I once successfully severed my ties with big boned, gold-toothed Tony Randoney and his crap beer scam, I am severing my ties with Anheuser Busch.  It’s not what I want to drink and I’m not willing to settle.

Life’s too short to drink crappy beer.




Wine Me, Dine Me, Nickel & Dime Me

Want to know the worst place in Florida to wait tables or sling drinks?


Known for its pristine Gulf Coast beaches, champion golf courses and world class shopping, Naples, Florida is home to a whole bunch of wealthy retirees who became wealthy retirees by acting like cheap, petty bastards in the restaurants and bars.  At first glance the town presents itself as a luxurious off-season bargain but soon after, it becomes obvious that its year round residents and retired regular visitors are simply the nickel and dime-ing types with discriminating tastes.

Our recent brief stay there began with surprise discount after surprise discount.  Upon arriving at our hotel, we were immediately offered a discount which I attributed to the desk clerk being gay and my boyfriend being cute.  When I told the clerk, “Thank you,” and that we were Florida residents, he interrupted me by further discounting our room.  What the hell, I thought.  It’s September and they must be desperate and friendly.

After checking into our half price fancy hotel, we went for a stroll down Fifth Avenue, where fine art galleries and designer clothing stores flank fine dining restaurants who all seemed to be offering three course bargain meals with free wine.  Perusing the menus which offered lobster, chicken marsala, and sauteed snapper, not a single eatery was charging more than twenty bucks for three courses with a drink and some even advertised half price bottles wine.

My delusional bubble that we’d simply stumbled upon an off-season bargain was soon burst when we sat down for a beer at McCabe’s Irish Pub.  An elderly gentleman was arguing with the bartender over the price of beers on his bill which were not discounted for happy hour.  When the bartender pointed out that it was not yet happy hour, the guy cited that it was already happy hour at another neighborhood bar and his bill should reflect happy hour pricing.   Although I was certain that the bargain hunting gentleman and his jewel-encrusted female companion could afford full price beers, I resisted the urge to interject, even though the young bartender was far too apologetic and kind.

At each subsequent restaurant and bar we went to, the same flea market mentality was in force.  Apparently in Naples, it is customary to demand discounts and argue about the price of your bill and the server will apologize, smile and accommodate any and all of your thrifty bull shit.  I’ve never seen anything like it and am now convinced that the service industry workers are suffering what I’ve labeled “Battered Bartender Syndrome.”  They weren’t just being nice.  They were whipped puppies.  Abused, worn down and broken into submission.  Trained to slash the price of your bill and apologize for underhandedly attempting to charge you full price.

At Verginia’s on Fifth Avenue we enjoyed a beautiful meal while seated at the bar.  When I asked the bartender for a wine list she rattled off all the happy hour half price specials.  When we asked for a dinner menu she steered us toward the three course twenty dollar meal.  When we told her we weren’t necessarily looking for a bargain she made a joke about being accustomed to doing the “Medicare Shuffle.”  As she poured our wine she reminded us that it was half off and we could enjoy happy hour prices all evening.   When we paid our check she informed us that we’d received a free glass of wine as advertised, half price appetizers, and that she hadn’t applied the five dollar split fee for sharing an entree.  We left her an obscene tip which I hope she used towards a ticket for the next bus out of there.

During our final breakfast on our way out of town, we were unfortunately seated near a nasal-voiced local woman who was hell bent on loudly telling the servers all about her pending divorce.   She only shut up for a few minutes to scrutinize her bill.  She called the waiter over to complain that the menu advertised salmon for $6 and on her bill it said $6.25 and when computing the bill with tax, she had not received her true ten percent discount.

I’d like to see that woman pull that kind of crap in my town.

Know Your Product–Take the Quiz

Think you know everything about the stuff you pour?  Take the Product Quiz and find out:

1.  Rum is distilled from:

a) the rum plant.

b) sugar.

c) Sweet ‘n’ Low.

d) Splenda.

2.  Glendfiddich, Glenlivet & Macallan are three examples of:

a) names you should avoid giving to your male children if you don’t wish for them to get beat up on the playground.

b) Scottish guys you had to 86 from your bar after the last World Cup.

c) single malt scotch.

3.  The agave plant from which tequila is derived can be grown:

a) only in Jalisco, Mexico.

b) much like medical marijuana in grow-houses in California.

c) as a Speedy Gonzalez shaped Chia-Pet.

4.  Irish Mist, Southern Comfort and Drambuie are all:

a) whiskies.

b) whiskey flavored liqueurs.

c)  a great way to waste an evening.

5.  “V.S.O.P” stands for:

a) “Very Sexy Old People.”

b) “Very Schnockered Obnoxious Person.”

c) “Very Special Old Pale.”

6.  Gewurtztraminer, Muscat and Reisling are all:

a) Eurotrash bands.

b) characters from Tolken’s “The Lord of the Rings.”

c) wine growing regions in Iowa.

d) white wine grape varietals.

7.  Old World wines are named by region because:

a) the winemakers feel the characteristics of the place (“terrior”) are the most vital influences on a wine rather than its grape of origin.

b) Europeans just like to show off how they know more about geography than we do.

c)  the French find it entertaining to watch Americans sputter and stumble over pronunciation of their wine regions.

8.  “Woodsy, yet clean, with defined notes of cedar and cherry on the palette, and a lively, smooth finish,” is an example of:

a) a description of a cabin on the Finger Lakes you came across on a vacation rentals website.

b) a pompous wine taster’s notes.

c) something a street schizophrenic would mutter at random.

9.  What does “Brut” refer to?

a) A cologne by Faberage.

b) A dry champagne.

c) A large, ill-tempered oaf.

10.  If George Thorogood ordered “one bourbon, one scotch and one beer,” nine times at your bar, how much would his tab be?

Y’all Be Nice, Now, Ya Hear?

My apologies for not posting last week as I was indisposed and galavanting across the State of Louisiana.  It was my intention to spotlight some po-dunk Northern Louisiana town bar in this blog however the service industry experience on my trip that struck me as most profoundly Southern and distinctly different occurred at an entirely different establishment.

Welcome to the Waffle House on Highway 20 in West Monroe, Louisiana.  You’ll know you are welcome the moment you walk in the door because both waitresses, the cashier AND the short order cook will individually greet you with a whopping “Hello there!” or “How y’all doin’?” or  “Good Mornin’ folks!”

This was surprising because we were two couples and one toddler.  As a veteran service industry employee, I would categorize our party of five as “scary to volatile” but for some reason, the Waffle House wanted us as customers.

These diner employees were so pleasant that I can only deduce that they were either:

a)  very skilled a customer service,

b)  extremely high, or

c)  mistaking us for someone who might sell them something that gets them high.

As our breakfast proceeded, we watched the crew greet everyone who walked through the door with the same enthusiasm so I’m going to assume it was (a).

ANYWAY, Doris who had worked at the Waffle House for five years (it said so on her name tag) sat us at a nice corner booth while Moe, our waitress rushed on over to get our drink order.  The coffee was piping hot and not long after it’s arrival, our Number 4’s were on the table.  A steaming plate of yellowish white:  Hot grits loaded with butter, fried eggs, pancakes and white toast.   Mmmmmm!

Moe checked on us to see if we had everything we needed.  Doris checked back to see if we were satisfied.  The short order cook smiled at us.  It was diner Utopia.

We paid our paltry check, overtipped and sauntered back to the car.  As we drove away, we began  discussing the experience and the restaurant.  Our table had been a little sticky and the high chair provided for the toddler was not exactly clean.  As it turned out, two of us had attempted to use the restroom and decided that is was “too risky” for sanitary urination.  (And those two were both males, which makes me never want to know how bad the ladies room might have been.)  At the counter had been seated a woman resembling what I can only describe as a crackhead and we all agreed that the ice waters we’d been served tasted funny.

So the moral of this little tale is that great customer service can mask an incredible slew of flaws at your establishment!  So be nice, and maybe the customers won’t notice how crappy your bar really is!

“I’ll take a burrito, 3 taco supremes and a zzzzzzzzzz….”

Those of you who read this blog regularly already know that I really dislike drunk drivers.  I’m all for having a good time, but risking the lives and the well being of others by climbing into the drivers seat of 5,000 pounds of moving steel just because you are too cheap or too lazy to call a cab (or walk or hitch a ride) is inexcusable in my book.  Occasionally I like to feature such idiots when they are arrested for DUI in less than flattering scenarios.

Last week in Kingsport, Tennessee police arrested a 34 year old woman who had passed out at the wheel of her Dodge Stratus.  According to the Kingsport Times News, police arrived on the scene to find Crystal Wallen Lane passed out at the wheel, the engine of her car still running, and several CASES of open beer bottles and numerous medications for which she had no prescription located inside the vehicle.

Oh, and she was passed out in the drive-through of a Taco Bell.  Classy!

I’ve heard of sudden napping after a big meal, but not alcohol induced narcolepsy in anticipation of one.  Ms Lane was arrested for DUI as well as possession and transported to jail where one can assume that the food served is of a lesser quality than what she was accustomed to at the fast food chain.

Take This Job and Shove It

By Leigh Pujado

Once upon a time I held a job bartending at an establishment that I found “less than fulfilling.”  I could write chapters on the woes of my disgruntled 5 months there, slinging drinks in my mandatory tropical print shirt, competing for money shifts with tenured drug addicts and struggling to pass the day against an auditory assaulting backdrop of sing along country tunes and “island favorites.”  To make a long story short it was sort of like being sentenced to mixing tropical drinks in a time capsule hell with Jimmy Buffet and Billy Ray Cyrus.

But I digress.

The only reason I bring up this interesting experience in my employment history is to mention that one policy (among the many ridiculous policies) practiced by this bar was the assessing of a “breakage fee” to each bartender at the end of each shift.  What I am saying is that each bartender at the end of his or her shift hands off their cash drawer and sales print-out to the shift manager who then counts the drawer and charges a “breakage fee” to be paid by the bartender.  Each shift I was forced to pay several dollars off the top of my tips to cover the cost of glassware. Notably, this fee was never based on whether or not I or any other bartender had actually broken any glassware.

Listening to “Pencil Thin Mustache” and “Kokomo” multiple times a day was bad enough.  But being fleeced for the cost of doing business was too much to handle.  When I realized I was being charged for this I was incensed!  I was livid.  I was outraged!  And unfortunately I was without legal representation.  But like hundreds of nameless, faceless employees before me, I paid the fee, and after work, went on my merry way and reveled in too much beer and the angry banter of movies like “Office Space.”

Today I stopped by one of my favorite haunts, Louie’s Backyard, to revel in their sunshine filled Afterdeck Bar, which just so happens to be another place I spent a couple of years slinging drinks.  It’s a lovely place, and for those of you who have not been there, it is a must for both it’s majestic Atlantic Ocean view and its delectable island cuisine.

However, for all its merit, Louie’s also wallows in a ridiculous snare of assessing the cost of doing business to its employees.  While I was there (5 PM, just before dinner begins promptly at 6PM,) I witnessed the waiters meticulously counting the silverware.  Management insists on the counting of pieces of silverware nightly and as silverware goes missing, assessing the cost to the servers.

I assure you, I am not making this up.  Louie’s charges their servers for missing silverware.

Several servers have tried making a stink, citing how unfair the $8 periodic fee is, only to be greeted with their walking papers.  While I agree it is a ridiculously unfair practice by management, I understand that complaining about their policy does little to remedy the situation.  In the two years that I bartended on the Afterdeck, I used to bring my own flatware from home as back-up silverware for when we literally ran out of silverware during meal service.

Basically, what I am saying is, “You want to work for crazy people?  Then abide by their crazy rules.”

Me?  I don’t want to work for crazy people anymore.  The beverage industry is too vast and varied to resign one’s self to remain working at an establishment that insists on silly policies.  Louie’s gets away with it simply because it is a beautiful place that literally hoovers over a particularly scenic piece of the Atlantic.

Suffice to say, I didn’t last long at the other bar that charged the breakage fee.  Their myriad of arbitrary rules and regulations and candy ass music left me less than eager to sling their inventory.  But, while the honeymoon lasted and because I was being forced to pay for the glassware, I made certain to break no fewer than 7 glasses per day.

Mozoltov you stupid Fuckers!