I don’t frequent bars, it’s just not my crowd. The drinks are too expensive, the music always loud and the staff overworked. Sure you can always fix the problem by adding more of your friends but do you really need to travel as a pack to have a fun night? However I did find one bar, a small place usually playing indie bands at a volume you could talk over. The kind of place you could wear a neck tie on and not feel out of place. Sure it was a fancy cocktail bar but it was the closest thing that I could relate to when people were saying they were going to the pub, somewhere I wanted to be that served alcohol.
It wasn’t perfect, again the drinks were expensive so you couldn’t go very often, reserved for birthdays and end of semester for me. The drinks were good though, you would order a Tom Collins and receive a liquid where you knew all of the ingredients but it was as though the barkeep with the top hat had sold his soul for arcane knowledge in drink construction. Thus I was ok with the price of the drinks as everything was interesting, unusual or somewhere in between. Even a drink I didn’t like I could appreciate the craftsmanship of each one.
So it was my birthday the other day and all I wanted for my birthday was for others to pay my tab at my favourite drinks bar. Thus the resovation was set, the guests reserved and the plans made. It was all perfect in my mind, first a whiskey trio followed by an Espressotini then the Lychee Martini followed after some time by a Tom Collins and lastly a Mojito. All of this together would be an evening for me to forget in a haze of well crafted concoctions. Thus the expectations were set and the guests were to arrive, the whole affair was not to happen at just the one location though first we had to visit a scotch place to get the last of a reserve bottle of Glen Moray which happens to be my favourite scotch (yes I know is sweet and Spayside but I don’t care).
So once we finish the scotch we move onto the main event. We walk though the doors oh so familiar to us but strangely the faces are not. It’s a Saturday night they are probably different weekend staff, we are ushed by one to our reserved table and sit waiting only on one other member to join. There is a new menu presents, the horror is starting to set in, gone is the twenty or so pages of drinks of all varieties replaced by six pages not even stapled together. This is where it hits, there is a third of the variety of bottles on the wall and the zenith of the scotch is now Chivas Regal and not a single malt in sight. The Lychee Martini is somehow watery and not sweet, the Espressotini adequate and the Mojito somehow sour, and the final insult there is no whiskey trio.
One round is all we can stomach though the grief, we need a drink to down our sorrow but we clearly cannot obtain it here. The food menu while has always been small was always eventful but even this has escaped the brutality of the changes. Gone is the shichimi and honey glazed wedges and in is the “shoelace fires”, out with the prosciutto rapped chicken and in with the karaage chicken. I can clearly while my stomach churns from the knife that is being twisted in it that my bar is dead. Killed by profits, killed by innovation, killed by pubs. It is clear to me now that the bar wasn’t making enough money so they brought in a new chief and manager who knew how to make money.
It’s quite easy to make money in this case, step one get more people in the door. Quickest way to do that is make things simpler and generally cheaper, but not that much cheaper I mean you still have your reputation to beat like a dead horse for a while. Second anything that was interesting, or expensive off the menu, this is easy as the old clientele will order from memory what they actually want while ignoring your pitiful attempt at a drinks menu, now all you have to do is not restock anything good especially the single malt whiskey. Third step more, cheaper and tasteless food. Pubs seem to do well and we all know their food is crap but people still eat it so why not just dress up your pub food with the thinnest veneer of effort and then carry on business as usual. Fourth step is that choices are hard, so remove them, do you know the difference between scotch and whiskey? Why bother anyway when we can make more money off our new extended craft beers that we will do. The social medias keeps ravings abouts it so lets do that just like everyone else.
I liked my bar because it was a special place unique and individual, no other place ever reminded me of it. I tried to find a similar place while visiting in Melbourne but I must have been in the wrong place as I found no suitably moody replacement. The worst part is the bar didn’t even have the decency to die an honourable death. Every time I walk past I will have the bitter memories of a bygone golden era and the farce that it has become. And now with a bar dead one more social outlet destroyed all that is left is to mourn as though a warm but friendly acquaintance over the years has died.