Wednesday, January 09, 2008

UK Bars vs US Bars and Pinoy Bars vs Thai Bars

Tunku Varadarajan of Financial Times must have spent a lifetime in bars to share these things (mostly anti-UK pubs):

1. The virtues of the English pub are vastly exaggerated by sentiment and nostalgia. Why are so many named after dead aristos (The Duke of Connaught, Prince Albert)? Many, in fact, have been taken over by big chains, tackied up and renamed The Slug and Lettuce, The Ferret and Firkin or The Farting Wayfarer. Their juke boxes play raucous punk-rock classics of the 1980s. American bars, more often than not, are called ''Bar''. As simple, unpretentious and effective as the country and western music that tends to be the ambient noise.

Ye olde pub was part of the local geography, independent, and run by a local gaffer who knew the local boozers. Today's pubs are managed by young trainees who have bachelor degrees, from Sheffield, in Hospitality Studies. As for service, American bartenders/tendresses are more professional (tipping is an incentive). English pubs tend to be manned by lackadaisical Aussies on their ''gap year'', although now, and not a day too late, more and more pints are being pulled by industrious lasses from Gdansk.

2. It is easier to extract a barman's toenail in an English pub than it is to extract that extra cube of ice for that glass of scotch that barely contains any scotch (see next point). American ice is better, and bars do not ration it as if it were butter in wartime London. The negatives of an American bar include the fact that you get ice with everything, even a Bloody Mary, which should be shaken with ice and then strained. But there's a simple solution to this problem. Just say: ''Hold the ice.'' (While on the subject of cocktails, American bars offer a far greater range of drinks, made with far greater aplomb - especially the great Martini, which you'd never find in a pub.)

3. There is a ''mean sod'' culture in pubs - pint glasses filled to the exact pint-marking on the glass, and not a drop more; bottles that are in those horrid upside-down racks with a plunger gizmo that dispenses exactly one-sixth of a gill (now there's a word!), and not a drop more. I'm all in favour of drinks being measured carefully to achieve accuracy in the proportions of a cocktail recipe, but this is just stinginess. An American barman who poured drinks like an English one wouldn't last a day in his job.

4. There are far fewer ''regulars'' at American bars than in English pubs, ''regular'' being a euphemism for ''appalling bore'', often prone to chippy right-wing views that are ventilated at the drop of a hat (''That Margaret Thatcher, she was more of a man than any of the recent prime ministers''). American bars are more cosmopolitan places, drawing people from all neighborhoods and beyond. They are not local wells from which the people on one block all draw their water. Pubs are essentially front stoops with alcohol. American bars, by contrast, can offer high-stakes contact with fascinating strangers. There is much less swearing, besides, in American bars (despite the occasional mother-****er), and many fewer drunken women than in the English pub, where the bladdered ladette is now a nightly hazard. As for the fauna, plucky American girls are more interesting than dart-throwing Englishmen.

A friend of mine, in a New York bar recently, found a woman in the men's restroom, cheerfully chatting with confused male patrons therein. She just hadn't wanted to wait in line for, as Virginia Woolf would put it, ''a room of one's own''.

5. Two final words in celebration of the American bar: no cider.

The Real Pinoy Bars

1. Remember the "Dirtiest Bathroom in Scotland" ? De rigeur in Pinoy niteclubs.
2. There must always be a videoke. It doesn't matter if it's working.
3. Waiters will place ice cubes with their hands and dip their fingers in your soup. How else would they know if the ice is cold and the soup is tepid.
4. Napkin wrapped on the beer bottle makes it ten times more expensive
5. Always demand that your beer be opened in front of you. You don't want to taste "blended beer."
6. Just look at your beer and not your neighbor.
7. Share a seat. Win a visit to the nearest hospital.
8. When you plan to make your GRO drunk, don't order the "ladies drink." This is just Seven Up and salt. Let them order beer.
9. If your GRO's visit to the "Dirtiest Bathroom in Scotland" takes 30 minutes, it means she has another customer.
10. If you hear "My Way" sang twice in a row, leave immediately.



Anonymous volume-addict said...

Discussing Pinoy bars reminds me of The Camouflage along Legarda from back in the 90's. I had to prop myself against the bathroom door and shoot piss all the way across to the other side of the room into the bowl just so that no one could get in while I was doing my thing. I still enjoyed going there in spite of it because they were the only club in town that had bands that played contemporary hard rock.

5:10 AM  
Blogger frank cimatu said...

Oh Camouflage. I was always picked up by the police then and my friends who were lawyers would vouch for my being unlucky to be in the middle of things. Then there would be discussions and then everybody would be hauled off. But then the Blank Band makes up for all the troubles. Hec Cruz is in Canada and Bad Boy Cacho I think has settled down in Bolinao. Two are in Manila including Grace Nono. And one is in the forest somewhere

10:20 AM  
Anonymous volume-addict said...

There was one time that I was with friends from SLU Boys High. We also got raided by the cops. They hauled off a couple of our friends for underage drinking...who the heck arrests people for underage drinking in Baguio? I had a feeling that some of the nearby competing waterholes were tipping the cops off because at the time, Camouflage would be packed to the gills while places like Spirits Disco were floundering (folks got tired of dancing and decided to get their rock-on perhaps).

5:57 AM  

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