Eric Felten at the WSJ on the sad (and enraging) state of most grand hotel bars:
Chief among these is this abomination:
There's no shame in looking something up, but ignoring the request and faking it with crappy ingredients? That's like being a chef at a restaurant and saying "I don't know how to make Hollandaise sauce, but here's some Velveeta mixed with gravy from a jar."
This hereby serves as advance notice to any bartender who tries to pawn a sour-mix-vodka concoction off on me instead of the drink I've asked for: you will receive an angry complaint from me and you'll be the subject of a discussion with the manager.
Though that may not help; my friend Michael Palmer relates this sad tale of an afternoon almost exactly a year ago at the Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle Hotel:
My wife and I got married at the Carlyle and had a drink at the bar later that night. Four years later we went for a classy drink at 1pm, first drink of the day. I asked for an Old-Fashioned, and was given a tiny bit of Scotch over ice, and lots of soda, in a tall Collins glass. No sugar, no orange, no bourbon, no bitters. . .
I said 'I don't think this is an Old-Fashioned". . .to which he said, "Sir, might I suggest when you order from a hotel bar, you know what's in the drink before you order it", with the "might I suggest" remarkably condescending. He rolled his eyes at my party and walked away. . .I ordered a Manhattan (which was soapy), we paid our $16 per drink tab and left.
The Bemelmans! As my friend concluded, "they are definitely coasting on their reputation."
This story reminded me that I haven't been to the Bemelmans since Audrey Saunders left to start the Pegu Club. A return visit is clearly in order.
(hat tip to Anita for the WSJ link.)