It’s a little known fact in the world that I used to work as a bartender. If you want to garner experiences that will shape the unique spiritual being that you are, it is imperative that at least once in your life you work nights for a raging alcoholic boss.
For me it happened at 21 and it happened in Rome. Stardust was the bar and Anna, 61, the alcoholic. Lo Stardust, as the Italians called it, was an adorable jazz club in the artsy Trastevere section of the city. I was thrilled to have the job and Anna was thrilled to have a bartender who didn’t like to drink much so there would be no one to add to the loss she swigged down every night by herself.
I welcomed the grotesque outbursts of anger and broken wine glasses as a breath of fresh air from the rigorous and perfectionist nice-jewish-ivy league life I was molded for. Gone were the days of thesis statements and parental approval and in were the raw nights of untamed rage and the free-flying smoke of endless super skinny cigarettes.
Daylight careers foster intellect, perhaps, and usually promote organizational skills of some sort, and most often invite society’s accolades. But if your nights are dedicated to sleeping so you can wake up in the morning for a “good job”, you are missing out on a good chunk of life.
Anna was a revolutionary of sorts. Stardust boasted the first Sunday Brunch in the city (with bagels!) and also decided to serve a signature cocktail, the margarita.
At this time in Rome (mid 90’s) cocktails weren’t even existent. Bars served strictly wine, beer and hard liquor straight up or on the rocks, which is why I was able to get a job as a bartender in the first place. But Anna decided to serve a margarita, shaken, in a martini glass. Salt on the rim, not an option. Where she got this idea, I have no idea. Mexican food was unheard of in Rome and guacamole unthinkable. But to this day, The Stardust Margarita is the best margarita I have ever tasted outside of Mexico.
PS. Anna always told me and the other girls who worked there to never use tongs to put the ice from the ice-maker into the ice-shaker. “Use your hands, its sexy!”