Oregon Tavern Age: Shit Detector

“I don’t want you to know exactly what you’re getting,” said a Portland bartender as quoted by a weekly rag with writers who like to cuss up a fucking storm in print to make them seem fucking edgy.

The bartender was referring to the fancy drinks he serves in his fancy bar to his fancy customers who pay $13 for what is undoubtedly a mostly liquorless cocktail.

First rule of OTA country: bartenders never talk about the drinks he or she mixes and neither do the customers. We talk about interesting things, such as burn piles and barbecuing eels that ospreys drop from the sky.

I was reading this nonsense at an outdoor table in front of an OTA joint.

It was the day the Governor ordered the county into another Pandemic lockdown and thus my local OTA joint was closed for indoor drinking, depression jags and creative writing for at least three weeks.

Luckily, the new owners had installed outdoor seating when they opened the joint a month ago. They were trying to survive.

I ordered a craft malt liquor and tipped big to do my part to save OTA life. Previous lockdowns had put a dagger in the liver of these dives and many died silent deaths across the state, including the greatest OTA tavern of them all, Turkey’s in Gold Beach. I’m still mourning that incalculable loss.

Perhaps the only good thing to come out of the Pandemic is that you can drink, and drink a lot to support a struggling small business, and feel really good about drinking, and drinking a lot.

I kept reading the article because I was so desperate for reading material I would have read a Jonathan Franzen novel.

“I’ve always used Asian ingredients—bitter melon…toasted rice powder, galangal, and pandan are always flavors I’ve gravitated toward.”

Sure. They must go well with Old Crow.

One of this sorcerer’s signature concoctions includes noir and jasmine. He also infuses his gin with turmeric and makes one drink with chamomile syrup.

I somehow finished the article, in very similar fashion to how you have to finish a dump or pretend something exotic is something better than something simple.

Ernest Hemingway once said: “The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof, shit detector.”

He could have said the same for bartenders.