Barfly wins first place in CNPA journalism awards contest!

My Barfly column has beat out all the other columns in California for the top slot in the California Newspaper Publishers Association (CNPA) contest!

just saying…

Marin IJ announcement

What goes around comes around

I don’t remember the first time I saw him. But sometimes first times don’t matter.

“Do you have any [insert newest hard-to-get product name]?” he asked.

“No, we don’t.”

“Do you have any [equally hard-to-get product name]?”

“No, we don’t have that either.”

Being trendy and cool can sometimes be quite difficult. Especially when everybody else is doing the exact same thing.

It takes a village, and the village says, “Behave!”

There is a saying, “Your freedom to be you does not trump my freedom to be free of you,” which mimics the famous legal adage, “Your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose.”

Both came to mind after I received many emails in response to my column last week, “Screaming is rarely appetizing.” In it I told the story of the diner owner in Maine who yelled at a couple and their child, telling them to leave after their child (admittedly) screamed for an extended period of time.

Here are some of the responses, slightly edited for grammar and style:

Screaming is rarely appetizing

When my daughter was about 2 years old, my wife and I decided to see if she was capable of experiencing her first restaurant meal. Exposing your child to experiences early and often is a great way of getting him or her socially adjusted. At least that is what the books say.

Wanting something might be better than having it

The humidity hung in the air like a living thing, making each breath feel hot and heavy. Sweat trickled down my spine, tracing its damp trail between my shoulder blades and running down to the small of my back, making me even more aware of the peculiar summer heat. It couldn’t actually rain in California in July could it? It could and it did.

The couple appeared to be both hot and bothered when they arrived at the bar. Heat and humidity and the resultant dampness can cause all kinds of issues.

Rockin’ it in a hard place

Frustrated is how I felt. When you work in an industry where every tiny detail is an excuse not to get paid, you tend to pay attention to all those details. Not all industries follow those guidelines, however. In fact some insist that they get paid in advance, just in case.

Might as well celebrate Independence Day everyday

Happy Independence Day. A day late you say? Not so fast. The Fourth of July might be the legally observed day of independence, but it is not the only day to fit the bill. In fact John Adams, remarked to his wife in a letter on July 3, 1776, that: “The Second Day of July 1776 will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.”

You can’t always get what you want

We arrived 15 minutes early for our 7 p.m. reservation, partly because I know that reservations are not guarantees, they are best guesses, and partly because I wanted to have a drink at the bar.

“Your table will be ready in a few minutes,” the hostess said.

“We’ll wait in the bar.”

She looked perplexed. “But …” she started.

It all comes down to the people in your life

In the service business you get all sorts of customers but the hardest ones are those who don’t just expect you to do your job, and do it well, but also expect you to be delighted to. It doesn’t matter if its 10 seconds to midnight on New Year’s Eve, or the bottom of the ninth with a full count and the bases loaded in a tie game, or the last 30 seconds of the NBA Finals, someone is going to demand your undivided attention, and then expect you to be thrilled about it.

The quest to be cool is never quite cool

I hadn’t seen him in years, maybe two or three bars ago. If it is true that change is the only constant, then someone should let him know.

“I hear that you write a little thing for the paper now,” he said in a way that acknowledges yet diminishes at the same time.

“Yep,” I said, knowing better than to give him more ammunition.

“I never read it.”

Whiskey makers thinking inside the barrel

With the advent of craft cocktails and modern mixology it is possible, even in the most remote recesses of our great nation, to get the most inventive cocktails imaginable. And if we are to believe Plato — that necessity is the mother of invention — then our necessity is that imaginative cocktails require imaginative spirits. And credit our nation for its ingenuity because that is exactly what is happening, and it is beginning in the most unlikely of places.

  • #25 iBooks Bestseller
  • Top 100 Amazon Bestseller
    Food Related Books
  • “more about mixing people than drinks”
    Christopher Kimball America’s Test Kitchen
  • “racy and innocent”
    Marin Independent Journal
  • “insightful writing about bar culture and human nature”
    SF Examiner
  • “the best stories are of the clueless at their worst behavior — often before they’ve ordered their first drink” “juicier reads than you would find in the pages of a family newspaper”
  • “a book of riotous stories”
    The Bold Italic
  • “great book, quite funny, and includes recipes!”
    Joel Riddell, Dining Around, NewsTalk 910
  • “I love this book. It's insightful, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, and includes expert cocktail recipes, too!”
    Erika Lenkert, author of Last-Minute Party Girl and Raw: the Uncook Book
  • “Served straight up, with humor, irreverence and a one-of-a-kind perspective, Twenty Years Behind Bars takes us up close into the life of bars, bartenders, and those who frequent both. To get any closer, you'd need be an olive in one of Burkhart's martini glasses.”
    Kimberley Lovato, author of the award winning cookbook, Walnut Wine & Truffle Groves