It was the red candle-wax around the top of the spout that initially caught my eye. It dripped down the glass bottle in globs, and parts even reached so far down that they touched the label around the center. Maker’s Mark. I liked the name. I wondered how the bartender was able to pour it with the candle-wax covering the top. I wanted to order it just to find out.
“What’ll it be, bud?”
“I’ll have a Maker’s Mark.”
I pointed to the bottle on the top shelf and smiled.
“How do you want it?”
The bartender turned around and grabbed the bottle. He looked at the candle wax, looked toward the rail, put the bottle back on the shelf, and then reached into the rail for a bottle that was already opened with a pour spout inserted. I was more disappointed than I would have liked to admit.
“Start a tab, bud?”
“Just need a credit card to hold.”
The bartender looked as if he was stuck between being a young old-man or an old young-man. He was thin, but not too thin that he would be considered too thin, but thin, and wore an all black t-shirt that revealed small pieces of a faded black tattoo that peaked out of the left sleeve. He had some scruff on his face and greasy dark hair that was cut short and spiked in parts; both his beard and his hair had accents of gray. He smiled at me and revealed a small gap in between his two front teeth.
I passed him the credit card and he slid the drink over to me on a promotional paper coaster.
“Could I get a splash of soda in it as well?”
I caught his eye roll as he pulled the drink back and squirted in some club soda from the plastic dispenser.
“Thanks. Sorry for not mentioning it before.”
“No worries, bud.” He showed me his gap.
I swiveled in my stool and surveyed the bar. It was a new bar and it showed. They were overstaffed with young college students and, with the exception of gap tooth, none showed any strong idea on what they should be doing. The bar itself didn’t really have an identity. It took elements from a sports bar, Irish bar, corner bar, dive bar, and cocktail bar – but failed to do any of them well. Instead the outcome turned into a wood paneled neighborhood located bar with football memorabilia lining the walls and rock music blasting out of the speakers. The cocktail list was written in colored chalk on the opposite wall of the bar and boasted some aristocratic favorites such as Sazaracs, Negronis, Old Fashioned’s, and Manhattans, but failed to capture the attention of the crowd who was seeking something more along the lines of Vodka & Red Bull or Red Headed Slut shots.
There was something particularly enchanting about the place however, and she stood about five feet six inches tall in the middle of the group of lost employees. She had strawberry blonde hair at the root that fell into a platinum by the time it reached her shoulder. I never learned her name that day, or gap tooth’s, or how to open a bottle of Maker’s Mark. I did learn the name of the bar, and I thought it was awful.