As people waste our time debating how much to tip baristas (the correct amount: the small pile of coins they give back to you after your transaction is complete) and bartenders ($1 per drink), a second, much more significant beverage problem has once again been overlooked: the frustrating delays caused by people who order complicated drinks and cocktails during peak times at crowded bars.
The faddish reintroduction of "cocktail culture" on these shores has been a boon for liquor distillers and prohibition cosplayers. But it's turned the once-efficient practice of ordering drinks into a sick and broken system. To be stuck in line behind a cocktail drinker when all you need is someone to pop the top off a beer is to be victim to a cruel and defective practice.
It is time to fight back against this invasive species.
There's an obvious solution. Patrons at packed, under-staffed bars should consider the long line of customers behind them as they order a Gin Fizz or whatever, and instead purchase a drink that requires less time to make, such as: one beer. This will never happen, because people are assholes. And so we are forced to consider another option: Segregation.
Separate lines, each with its own bartender. One for those of us attempting to buy a quick beer, shot, or any liquor on the rocks; another for anyone purchasing a cocktail.
Will people cheat the system, like they do for express check-out lines and HOV lanes? Of course. "Could you put some bitters in that bourbon?" they'll ask in the express lane. "Maybe a splash of vermouth, too?" No, fuck you. These rule breakers can be dealt with, with expulsion from the establishment. Customers will no doubt complain at first, too. Expel them. As the place is emptied out by force, the path to the bar becomes ever clearer.
The benefits of this system are myriad: The low-maintenance customer saves time and is rewarded for his or her dignified austerity; the bar makes more money as honest drinkers no longer feel the need to slip in mini airplane bottles of booze in their pockets in order to avoid the long lines; the sort of people who require elaborately-constructed beverages are stuck in one another's company.
This revolutionary idea would also work at coffee shops, where every day people hold up rush-hour commutes with their demands for similarly faddish espresso drinks when a simple coffee would work just fine.
The perils of rejecting this system: the agitation, discord, and chaos that abound at your favorite neighborhood bar every Friday night.
Thank you for your time.
[Illustration by Jim Cooke]