View Full Version : Shady restaurants....

07-16-2006, 10:02
I went to downtown San Diego on Friday night. My girlfriend, her sister, my one good friend and myself went to a bar/grill called Dick's Last Resort. Decent food, good beer selection. I ordered a MM manhattan from our waiter. It didn't taste right to me when I got it, I thought that perhaps it was a real low quality vermouth or something. I went to the bar when the drink was empty, lo and behold, no MM in their bar. Only WT101 and JB white.

Want to know the best part? When the chack came I was charged for a "premium spirit". $9 dollar manhattan with WT?!?!

What else have you guys experienced like this?

07-16-2006, 10:49
Binny's has Makers listed at $23 and WT at $20 so I wouldn't feel badly about that substitution, pricewise. You seem to be implying that you were cheated out of a great, high end spirit and given rot gut instead. I completely disagree. I would rate the quality of the two as roughly equivalent. If you were willing to pay $9 for a drink from one the price difference of the other would be nominal.... Now as to taste, well, they are quite different and the right thing for the waiter to have done would be explain they are currently out of MM but offer WT as a substitute and left the decision with you....


As to equivalent stories.... I almost never order a drink out..... I want what I want when I want it and whatever that is isn't generally available "out". It was different when I was traveling a lot for work and I was more accommodating back then.


07-16-2006, 11:08
No no no. Please don't misunderstand me. I really enjoy WT. I have a bottle of everything they make open (except the tribute, and gold foil). it is just that when i order something, and am told that it is something, that is what i expect, ya know? I am not trying to put WT down, ir just made me mad that i was lied to.

07-16-2006, 11:35

This is not quite the sort of thing you are asking about; the only similarity is that it involved bourbon and annoyance.

Since moving to the Prescott, AZ area two years ago, I've eaten at establishments where ranch clothes and sweaty baseball caps are frowned upon fewer than a dozen times. Accordingly, my wife and I value such outings all the more.

Our first visit to what is either "northern Arizona's finest supper club" or a Mobil two-star-rated dive, depending upon one's source, was notable in that I had the best whiskey sour I can recall. In fact, I had three of them, an almost unheard of event. When I ordered, I made a special request for Wild Turkey 101, and then I half-jokingly added ". . . and please make sure it's at least four-to-one." Perhaps the bartender honored my request. All I know is that they tasted like bourbon with traces of other flavors added. Just as I like them.

Upon our second visit, when son and D-I-L were visiting over Independence Day, I made the same request, except that I left out the part about the ratio. (I try hard not to embarrass D-I-L with uncouth behavior in public.)

That drink barely qualified as such. The flavor of bourbon was barely detectable. Even the lemon flavor was weak. The dominant flavor was sugar. Had we not been entertaining the kids, I would have sent it back.

The next time we visit that establishment, probably several months from now, I will skip the whiskey sour. To me inconsistency is almost as bad as skullduggery.

On a side note, I wonder how many people have formed a lasting, negative impression of a particular cocktail based on an initial, mediocre example. That probably belongs in a different thread.

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

07-16-2006, 11:40
We're they all a bunch of dicks? I went to the one in San Antonio and thought that most of the workers were A holes. Then when I got back, someone told me they do that on purpose, its all a part of eating at Dicks Last Resort. They all act like dicks, but their not being serious. I probably would have enjoyed my meal a lot more if I would have known that before hand.

07-16-2006, 11:41
it is just that when i order something, and am told that it is something, that is what i expect, ya know?

I fully understand that. I would have felt really bad had the receipt said it was actually Makers! Premium Spirits is pretty undefined.... But, again, the right thing would have been to tell you!


07-16-2006, 11:53
We're they all a bunch of dicks?

We have (had? Who knows?) one of those here and that was my understanding of how they work. Never really sounded like an enjoyable evening to me.....


07-16-2006, 12:42
yeah, they act like assholes, kinda throw your silverwear at you, flatware is a piece of white paper. i don't mind that, i knew what kind of service was there before we went. it is kind of fun once-in-a-while. if you're out of water or need a napkin or something, you can just yell at any waiter, "get it now or watch your tip go bye-bye!"

07-16-2006, 18:25
I can't imagine why a place like that would have any customers.


07-17-2006, 05:40
Variety is the spice of life. I bartend and I watch everybody here rip bartenders because they make crappy whiskey drinks. :shocked: If I make 1 whiskey cocktail to 100 non whiskey cocktails a night, I would say I'm being nice to whiskey. I work at a trendy club and its the best $$ by far for a bartender. I've worked at classy restaurants and local bars, maybe the ratio there was 1 out of 50 cocktails were whiskey drinks. All the people I work with are 20 somethings and they all have a ton of shooters and cocktails in their catalog. They are all very good bartenders BUT they know almost nothing about whiskey.:bigeyes: Heres the thing now, it just doesnt matter anymore. We (us bourbon drinkers) are a tiny group in the world of bars and clubs. If you dont believe me, go to every bar and rest. in your area , even your local liquor store and look at the selection of whiskey. We are in a free-market and if it sold it would be there, wouldn't it. I can find every vodka everywhere I go because it sells.
I'm the goto guy when it comes to whiskey with my crew but I dont look down on them because the owner of the bars and rest. could care less about whiskey drinkers when vodka and rum cocktails and shooters make them a fortune as it is. WOW did I go off on a tangent. Heres my point. Whiskey cocktails arent the craze We ( us whiskey nuts here) think they are. When you go to a bar or rest. most every bartender will never frown upon a guest teaching them a new cocktail and how to make it. Instead of looking down on the bartender because he doesnt know our version of a whiskey cocktail we love, stop and tell him how you would like it made. Do like Dave and give ratios.


07-17-2006, 07:19
That's a darn good reply with some advice thrown in as well Steve. Thanks.

I like my Old Fashioned made in the original way with no muddled fruit or soda water. I make sure the waiter or cocktail guy knows this beforehand. This tends to negate any problems that I may have run into on previous occasions.

The only crime I do hate is people trying to pull the wool and pass of something it's not. Does get me mad but with age and experience it happens less and less.

I was a "bouncer" in my Army days and all the club staff were looked down on by many people, from the security staff to the glass collectors. People who were polite, friendly and chatty got better service no question.

07-17-2006, 11:51
Do like Dave and give ratios.

Thanks to your comments I will now do so with a clearer conscience; I am generally uncomfortable telling someone else how to do a job.

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

07-17-2006, 14:48
To both Dave and Flash I would say never hesitate to complain. One can "complain" without being offensive. Most businesses want to know when a customer is dissatisfied. When an establishment makes a mistake, or merely guesses wrong as to what you want, an immediate corrective is in order, but don't pull the plug on them, or tag them as bad, just for that. Let them know what was unsatisfactory. The way they handle that is what tells you if the place is worthy of your business or not.

In the case of Flash, they cannot substitute without asking you if it's okay. That's the law. Not just bar law, real law.

To that, the only caveat I would make is that, personally, I probably wouldn't order a mixed drink at Dick's. I might order a call bourbon neat, but I would not have a lot of confidence in the skills of the bartender at that sort of chain establishment. You might get lucky, but the odds are against you.

I'm very careful about where I order a manhattan. I have been to Dick's in various places, I like Dick's, but I usually have beer.

In Dave's case, if you give certain specific instructions and get what you want, don't abandon them. Most bartenders appreciate a patron who knows what's what and gives clear instructions. That's not telling them how to do their job. That's telling them how they can satisfy you.

There are limits to that, of course. Again, my personal approach. Unless I have found everyone in a place to be very capable and professional, I would not trust a server with that kind of message. I would go to the bar and order it myself (assuming that would be acceptable and it's not a service-bar-only set-up). If I expect to visit that establishment on a regular basis, I would want to get to know the bartender anyway and get the bartender used to seeing me. Again, the good ones value knowledgable patrons, as long as you're not obnoxious about it (which I am certain our Dave would never be), and they do remember regulars. There's nothing like going up to the bar, placing your order and just saying, "you know how I like them."

Again, my personal practice, I would never order a martini without giving certain specifications. I don't really care what gin they use, but I don't want vodka, and I do want about a 3:1 ratio of gin to vermouth. And I want at least three big olives. I've never had a bartender push back on receiving or following those instructions.

07-17-2006, 16:15
Whiskey drinkers are definitely in the minority. Anytime I've asked a waitress what they have for Bourbon, I get a blank stare, but generally they reply that they can go check. The problem is that the staff often doesn't know what Bourbon is. The waitress will come back and name off 2 or 3 Bourbon's. If you then go up to the bar and look for yourself there are often a few more choices as well. So my normal procedure is to check out the bar selection when I arrive, and then when the waitress comes by I can order easily.

A few weeks back my boss took us all to his country club for lunch. (Many of us don't really fit in there well, but that is another story) I checked out the bar, they had plenty of good Scotch, but only JD black label and Gentleman. I asked the waitress for a JD Black Label in a snifter (which I really don't mind in a pinch). She returned shortly with a huge pour in a snifter. Excellent. I nosed the glass. Hmmm... this doesn't smell right, maybe it is an old/stale bottle. I took a sip. Nope, this is Scotch. Oh well, I'll deal with it. A few minutes later the bartender himself came over. He asked, "Did you order JD black or Johnny Walker black?" I said "JD". "I was afraid of that", he replied as he took my snifter and set down another hefty glass, this time actually JD. Too bad I didn't know this would happen, I would have drank faster from the Johnny Walker :grin:

07-17-2006, 18:20
The level of whiskey knowledge in bars here (Ontario) is the same pretty much as described elsewhere apart from a few specialty places. I always try to look at the selection because the servers won't know all the choices (same usually with beer).

I agree with the comment below from a person with bartending experience, that it is best to explain what you would like including type of glass, etc. I do not like cognac glasses for whiskey for example, I like a small tumbler and try to specify that (although if I had a dollar for the variety of glassware I've been served whiskey in I'd be rich :)).

I generally avoid cocktails in bars, too much hassle and risk. My drink out is generally a beer and a whiskey (kind of a cocktail right there). At home I make cocktails the way I like them. I agree with Chuck that it is good to get to know the people at bars and I have my favourite places here. On the other hand, often I don't want to talk to them or the people next to me, just have a quiet drink and go. So I might try a new place, or even an older one where people recognise me but it isn't expected to talk to them. This gets into bars with the right atmosphere.

I must say while I enjoy different kinds of bars, I find too the variety can be overrated. Those essays about storied bars and pubs in, say, Old New York, always leave me a little cold once I actually go there. And I say this as (at one time anyway) a dedicated bar hunter. I enjoyed finding local atmosphere and interest on my travels, but my real goal (I have decided) is the drink itself - not any drink - but finding a place with a good selection of beer or whiskey. I like a quiet atmosphere with a helpful but not overfriendly staff. But I believe too that, certain things being given, i.e., the place is not a dive, is not too small, clean, well-run, etc. that most bars are more the same than they are different. For me given those minimums it is the choice of the beverage I am interested in. Of course everyone has their own view on this. Some people go to bars to find a date, or for sports viewing, or to eat out (I do that too, in fact almost always now when going to a bar), or for a neighborhood atmosphere and chat. I am mainly interested in the selection of potables a bar has.


07-17-2006, 19:17
The more I think about it, the more I think that one must be specific when ordering a whiskey cocktail. Aside from the JD vs. real bourbon vs. Scotch issue [1], there are things like ratios and straight-up vs. on-the-rocks to consider.

While I still have yet to dive into the Martini world, it seems like martinis also need to be specified when ordering them at a bar... especially the gin vs. vodka issue!

I'm quite sure that I would have better enjoyed the Maker's Mark Manhattans I had this spring in a bar in St. Charles, Illinois, if I had specified straight-up, 3:1, with bitters (regardless of whether the bitters were Angostura, Fee's, or Peychaud's).

The Manhattans I had there were OK, but I've made far better versions on my own...

[1] I'll never, ever turn down good Scotch!

07-17-2006, 19:28
I always check out the bar when I walk into an establishment. Around here, it is usually Jim Beam white and JD black. Sometmes there are brands from the Beam small batch collection. Occasionally you will find a bottle of Gentlemans Jack. If I owned a bar, all of the bottles would be on the bar back in plain site. I would keep the bourbon in one spot, the scotch in another and so on. Many times you don't even see what little bourbon they have as it is down below counter level. This is OK for the cheaper well type brands, but not for the more popular name brands. It seems the bar back of many establishments is primarily lined with vodka, rum, and liquers with very minimal representation of bourbon or even whiskey of any type!


07-18-2006, 12:03
I was in a bar just last night and followed my own advice vis a vis a martini and will now modify that advice. I accepted the well gin and while the drink was tolerable, as was the second one, I think in the future I will pay the premium for a call brand. The flavor just wasn't there. Everything else was done exactly to my liking, however, and with good cheer throughout.

Part of the problem, though in a way it isn't a problem, is that better bars don't really have a well as such, so you either don't have to specify a brand, or your choice is limited to only premium brands. This was not a better bar.

Worst of all, a bottle of Bombay Sapphire was sitting right there.

07-22-2006, 06:47
This whole thread should be renamed, "How to go to a Bar"

Steve, Great post.

Everybody, great posts. I want to quote and reply to each one.

When I go out, rarely, it is either beer or whiskey, neat.

Here in Japan, a draft beer is usually served with two-three inches of head. That is fine with the Japanese customers, that is the way they like it. Most of us expats want more beer less foam. Expats often order beer, no foam. Bottled beer is usually served with little tiny glasses. Maybe 4 oz. Again, that is what the Japanese patrons want. Now, if you order bottled beer, you know just how much beer you are going to get and it is usually much cheaper than if you order draft. The smart Expat will order bottled beer and a big glass. You know what you are getting and can pour your beer with as much or as little head as you like.


07-22-2006, 08:04
Here in Japan, a draft beer is usually served with two-three inches of head. That is fine with the Japanese customers, that is the way they like it. Most of us expats want more beer less foam. Expats often order beer, no foam. Bottled beer is usually served with little tiny glasses. Maybe 4 oz. Again, that is what the Japanese patrons want. Now, if you order bottled beer, you know just how much beer you are going to get and it is usually much cheaper than if you order draft. The smart Expat will order bottled beer and a big glass. You know what you are getting and can pour your beer with as much or as little head as you like.

I agree, completely. I have always hated places that will have a $1 draft beer special, then they give it to you in a small glass. What's so special about that?

I liked draft beer in the old days, though. There was a popular restaurant chain called Lum's (I know it was in more than just Atlanta, but I don't know if it was nationwide) that specialized in beer-steamed hot dogs and a wide variety of draft beer. They also had various sizes of glasses you could order, specified in ounces. So, they had something like a 32 oz "schooner".

Man, it was wonderful to have a huge glass of real draft German Lowenbrau or Danish Kronenburg (I think that was one of them). That was back in the early 70's.


07-22-2006, 09:08
I liked draft beer on the old days, though. There was a popular restaurant chain called Lum's (I know it was in more than just Atlanta, but I don't know if it was nationwide) that specialized in beer-steamed hot dogs and a wide variety of draft beer. Tim

No kidding! We had one of those up here in MA back in the late 60's / early 70's. My grandfather used to take us there for lunch sometimes because it was across the street from the factory where he worked. It's gone now, I don't know what year it closed. Great place.

07-23-2006, 09:17
Still have one in Nebraska, although I don't think it's chain affiliated any more

07-23-2006, 12:55
So, it does sound like Lum's was pretty widespread (GA, MA, NE, at least). Is the one in Nebraska still "cool"? Or, have you ever tried it?


07-23-2006, 18:57
You can add Ohio to the list. We had one in Mansfield in the late 60s, early 70s.

07-24-2006, 09:46
Add Virginia and Maryland to the list. There was still one in Woodbridge, VA on Rt. 1 last time I was through there about 5 years ago. It looked pretty run down. I haven't been in one since I was very little, maybe 1975 or so.


07-24-2006, 11:42
Lum's Ollieburger

3 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 1/2 tsp Seasoned Salt
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp A-1 Steak Sauce
1 Tbsp Corn Oil
1/2 Cup Beef Broth
1 tsp Heinz 57 Sauce
1/4 tsp Garlic Salt
1 tsp Vinegar

1. Mix the above ingredients.
2. Take 1 1/2 to 2 lbs. of ground round and shape meat into round
patties, 3/4" thick and 3 1/2"round.
3. Place in a covered container and pour the marinade mixture over them.
Cover tightly and refrigerate 12 hours or overnight.
Turn the patties frequently.
4. Remove from marinade and sear over high heat to seal in the juices,
then turn down heat and cook to your desired doneness.

07-24-2006, 15:53
It still retains the Lum's name, but the items are not anything like they used to be. I haven't been there in about two years now, but the last time I went it had become more of a family style buffet place.