Saturday, August 14, 2004

the martini factor

It was a night of nights out. Meant to be nothing more than just a casual dinner, but of course when you are in the company of a few japanese clients, it is never really just a casual dinner. In any case I wasn't dressed to the nines, and I wasn't exactly in the mood to be doing so. I just looked forward to going home, getting some sleep and perhaps listening to some music, missing out on all the potential fun I might have. And of course that was not to happen.

We ended up at one of the supposedly respectable Latin bars where they served cigars and wines and played a mix of latin jazz and more upbeat salsas. Qba at the Westin had a good feel to it, the ambience was dim, classy, sophisticated, and the senoritas serving you were, well, calientes! As we sat us down, the conversation with the supposed bartender became an evident gauge of where our city was in comparison to the other developed cities such as tokyo, or new york. Now if you noticed I used the word 'supposedly' twice in respect of the bar, and the bartender. Just 2 things that you needed to do right, but sad to say, they didn't.

I've always compared our lovely city to the likes of new york, its dirty, there are various walks of life, its the center of everything you ever need to get, and the nightlife is where everything comes alive. Anyway, back to the bar - I noticed a distinct judgemental tone from the bartender, it was as if he was gauging who we were, and what we were doing. It did help that I was with japanese clients, so they mosied up oodles of respect somewhat (and this I noticed everywhere, for instance at dinner at a chinese restaurant, the service was impeccable), but it was there that his lack of knowledge on basic bar drinks, and his defiance of his lack of knowledge, made the bar look bad.

I have this theory, if you want to figure out if the bar is any good, ask for a martini. It is not the most complex drink, and it is mostly made of gin, but over here, nobody stocks up on it, and nobody knows how to make it. The key to a great martini is that it has to be served cold, really cold. I found out from one of the japanese, where we'll refer to as O, that in japan, the martini is the single most ordered drink that you need to know how to make, or it will make, or break your bar. He knows this not because he's japanese, he knows this because he owns a bar in japan. So back to our little Qba (which I just realized that it spells 'cuba'. Smart, and no I wasn't too drunk to notice), the martini they had were in the pre-mixed bottles. As the bartender proudly said, yes, we have 3 types! and O quickly retorted, ah, that's rubbish. you must make the fresh one! Indeed, if you were going to serve me a pre-mixed bottle of martini, I could've just done it at home.

At about the stroke of midnight, conversations with O turned into this informal bonding process, as we talked about love and relationships. Well, I suppose everyone does need some form of release, and I found myself turning from an unwilling participant, to a freeloading alcoholic, to a relationship counsellor. As we went through our RM-fiftysomething-a-shot rum, which was about the best drink they served, it seemed as though men, no matter how old, accomplished, or successful, were not that much different from women. At the end of the day, if you had no one to talk about your relationship problems to, who do you turn to? Most likely is the unlikeliest of people, high on rum, with a listening ear.

We walked out of Qba way past their closing time, and they were already cleaning up. Time seemed to pass really quickly. As O pondered on how ridiculous it was that they are charging fiftysomething-a-shot rums, I can't help but think that we are trying to be developed, but if you can't make a good martini, I think you still have a long way to go. As for O, I suppose he paid not only for the drinks, but for some good company. The latter, no amount of money can buy, however developed your city may be.