By the third batch, I had found my groove, and despite the unbearable cold of the ice-filled shakers and the tacky fluid that kept finding its way between my fingers, I was beginning to enjoy myself. Like playing one of those super-physical, hand–eye coordination video games, the better I got, the more fun it was.
During a lull between orders, I decided to make a Divatini for myself, seeing as I’d yet to taste the drink I’d been serving my friends. It must be good, I thought, because my sister Jenny was on her third, and I’d lost count of how many Rob had ordered. I stepped to the side so that I would be out of Brian’s way (he was hustling to fulfill all non-Divatini orders) and took a sip. It was not the best drink I’d had. I wondered about the ratio of ingredients, as I’d been haphazardly mixing and indiscriminately sloshing raspberry puree and vodka into the shaker. It certainly didn’t taste as good as any of the drinks Sara had made for me.
Being a good bartender takes a lot more than following a recipe — you have to understand the relationship of the ingredients to one another. I thought of a few of my favorite bartenders and realized they had all spent years sullying their hands in order to perfect their craft. I will be sure to tip them even more generously in the future, now that I see that even though they make it seem effortless, they are working their asses off. How could I think that one night of getting a little sticky could elevate me to the rank of bartender? I had begun to sulk at my hubris when I got an order for two more Divatinis, this time from Jen and Amy, who’d been sitting at the bar. I took in my friends’ relaxed smiles and cheered up a little as it occurred to me that there was one sure formula for immediate bartending success — if you can’t make ’em good, make ’em strong.