Customer Relations, and “The Ray-Ray”


One of the greatest honors we have, in the business of bartending, is being able to name a drink after a customer. It epitomizes an ethereal connection between bartender and patron, a convergence of opinions and tastes. It is agreed upon by all to be a reminder of good times had, and better times yet to come. As bartenders we live to please, exist to instill in our guests a sense of family, a sense of togetherness that meets in an apex of creativity and induglence. When we can create a cocktail that hits at the very essence of who you are, not only as a drinker, but as a person, we have fulfilled our eternal mission, we have identified a connective tissue, one neither of us knew was there at all.

Perhaps I’m being a bit romantic. I never was a good Hemingway, and I don’t enjoy his daiquiri as much as some collegues might like. But I appreciate the ability to make people happy, and if that means giving them the coldest Coors Light in the state of Connecticut, then, goddamn it, that’s what they’re going to get. If the guest at my bar wants a vodka and tonic, then they’re going to get a well iced, perfectly proportioned highball, with a solid, fresh, green lime; and my job is to make sure they enjoy it. I want them to drink their vodka tonics at my bar, not the one next door. And I want them to know I care enough about them to think their cocktail, no matter how simplistic, out to the level of perfection, even if they’re not prone to know the difference.

Call me a romantic, I don’t care. Call me a perfectionist, I embrace the term. But at the core of my person, I imagine myself as the customer, drawn and weary after a long day at work, looking for nothing more than a respite, a place to relax and unwind, where the thinking ends and the imbibing begins. I’ve said on numerous occaisions that we, as employees of the hospitality industry, exist solely to make our customers forget about their lives, and at times we sacrifice our own for the pleasure to do so. We put ourselves in their shoes. We know how it feels to be the last couple at a bar when the bartender wants to go home. We understand how it feels when we want to taste the pinot noir by the glass and the bartender rolls his eyes in contempt. We empathize with you, when, after a twelve hour day at the office, playing politics and sucking up to upper management, you don’t have the patience to peruse a ten-page cocktail menu to settle on your drink of choice. Those of us, who take our profession seriously, appreciate the ability to create something for you from scratch, to talk to you and get to know you enough to establish a semblance of trust. We want to make you happy. We want you to relax. We’ve been in your shoes, and you’d better believe that we got your back.

And so, that brings us to today’s cocktail. I don’t write about my own recipes often, as I’ve always been more of a fan of spreading the word of the industry, rather than tooting my own horn. But, I really like this drink; and more so, I really enjoy the company of my friends that made it possible. A simple twist on the Negroni, this drink substitutes Averna for sweet vermouth, while balancing that bracingness with Aperol in place of Campari. While the Averna adds an Earthy flavor and amaro-specific viscosity, the Aperol tones down the bitter and the booziness of the Campari to keep the cocktail well balanced. A dash of bitters (Bitter Truth Aromatic,) adds just the right amount of rich spice, while allowing the gin to stay the dominate player. It’s crucial here to use a juniper-forward gin like Beefeater or Tanqueray, and in this case, I chose the latter, and added an extra half-ounce to keep every bit of the flavor in play.

For your drinking pleasure, named after my friend Rachel, I present to you the Ray-Ray:

1.5 oz Tanqueray Gin
1oz Averna
1oz Aperol
1 dash Bitter Truth Aromatic Bitters
Stir with ice, and and strain into a cocktail glass or coupe. Finish with a large zest of orange peel.

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1 Comment

  1. rachelthompson7

     /  January 13, 2013

    Best drink ever! Thanks Adam!


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