Some advice is actually worth paying attention to

“Know what you guys should do?” asked the man sitting alone at the bar. I looked around the room at the mob of holiday revelers and wondered what part of what we were doing made it look like we needed help.

If there are any words that a person already engaged in doing something really doesn’t want to hear, those are at the top of the list. It doesn’t matter if you are a plumber, a mechanic, a waitress or a mailman; nobody likes to be second-guessed when he is right in the middle of doing something.

“You guys should make large ice cubes,” he said when he realized no solicitation was forthcoming.

I looked at the drink I was making, one with a large square ice cube.

“Like this?” I asked pointing at the big cube.

“No, round ones.”

“Like that?” I asked, pointing at a large round ice cube in another drink in another patron’s hand.

“That doesn’t look like a perfect sphere,” he said.

“That matters?”

He then launched into a five-minute spiel loaded with spurious scientific jargon, which I stopped listening to after 30 seconds. Finally he got to the heart of the matter.

“I have a friend who makes a machine that makes perfectly spherical, perfectly clear ice cubes that are perfect for premium cocktails.”

With that many perfects how could one go wrong?

“How much is it?” I asked.


Three perfects and one very wrong.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I said, when time and circumstance allowed.

“It is state-of-the-art and makes one ice cube at a time, slowly melting the ice until a perfect sphere is formed.”

Three thousand dollars to make one ice cube at a time? Slowly?

I thought of all the ice cubes we go through on a normal night, made in trays that cost $3 each, and then I looked at all the people demanding my attention.

“Here’s my manager’s card,” I said. “You should run it by him.”

That should take care of that.

In the interest of the holiday season I am offering a list of actually useful items — unsolicited I might add.
A useful gadget
Final Touch: On the Rock, glass and ice cube mold: How could I resist? This set also makes a near-perfect spherical ice cube, one at a time. But it is the glass that makes the difference. The glass has a cone shaped “rock” ridge in the bottom that you can roll your round ice cube around in. Very cool and $2,981 cheaper than the other one. It’s $19, available locally at Bed, Bath and Beyond.
Non-alcoholic option
Bette Jane’s Ginger Beer: Made in Healdsburg but marketed through throughout the 415 area code, Bette Jane’s puts the kick back into your Moscow Mule. Using all natural ingredients (you can actually see them in the cloudy debris at the bottom of the bottle) Bette Jane’s has a bright lively lemony-ginger flavor, great in cocktails, and delicious on its own. And it supports a good cause too. Bette Jane’s is named for the founder’s mother who lost her battle with breast cancer and some of the proceeds go toward families affected by breast cancer and for breast cancer research. It retails for $2.49 each, or ask for it at better bars everywhere.
A liquor option
Square One Bergamot organic vodka: Love Earl Grey tea? Then you’ll be head over heels for Square One vodka’s newest edition. Layered with bergamot orange peel as well as pressed organic mandarin, navel oranges and tangerine then finished with the botanical essences of organic ginger, coriander and piney juniper, you practically have Christmas in a glass. And it’s all organic, too. Forget “Star Trek’s” Capt. Picard, I’ll have my Earl Grey chilled ice cold! It’s $35 for 750 milliliters at
A wine option:
Stubbs Vineyard Chardonnay: The address may say Petaluma, but the Stubbs wines are all West Marin. Located down the Marshall Petaluma road the family winery is entirely off the grid, literally. It uses no gas or electricity, only wind and solar. Its chardonnay is a blend of barrel fermented French oak, malolactic fermentation and coastal cooled goodness. Can you say crisp citrus with a hint of tropical fruit? Sure you can. Stubbs also produces a pinot noir and a merlot. It’s $27 at
Let’s just say someone out there has a bartending book available, if you know what I mean.

Have a happy and safe holiday.