Tales from the New Zealand Bar World: The Death Wish

What could possibly happen when cocktails and cockiness clash in the presence of the all-mighty All Blacks?

 
 

The Death Wish

15mls White Sambuca
15mls Jägermeister
3 dashes Tabasco
Build in a chilled shot glass

I’ve spent many years working in bars all over the world, culminating in representing New Zealand at the Olympics of the bar world, The World Cup of Cocktails, (yep, there really is such a thing) as part of the national team, the mighty All Drunks.

In that time I’ve been asked to do many things that I’m not proud of. I’ve been asked to manually remove a pair of socks from a toilet U-bend after two-dozen people, many of whom I suspect were on a protein rich diet, had continued to use it regardless. I’ve had to wrestle a woman to the ground after she went on a kill-crazy rampage with a surprisingly pointy shoe, and was once even asked to perform a sex act on a woman old enough to be my grandmother when she was horny and frisky on Jäger and whisky.

Without a doubt, however, the most stupid thing I’ve been asked to do was request a group of All Blacks leave a bar for being ‘rowdy.’

First let me say I am not proud of this. I did not choose to ask them to leave, nor did I want them to go. It was the owner’s bright idea (he’s Australian, just saying.) His reasoning was that the bar was in a quiet, conservative hotel populated by the elderly and Americans, and more often than not both. It wasn’t even that the five AB’s and their girlfriends in question were that loud, they weren’t; they’re just bigger than everyone else (the AB’s that is, not the girlfriends) and their voices carry further. Like, Spain further, but that’s not the point. The clientele, however, didn’t see it that way, and after a dark period of mutters and stares the owner finally acceded and told me to show them the door.

This was bad enough but not my main problem. My main problem was that he did it so loudly that the whole group stopped being ‘rowdy’ for a moment and locked on to me.

Those ten steps across the room remain the longest of my life.
When you ask someone to leave a bar there are many methods you can employ. You can appeal to their sense of reason or logic, you can use guilt, threats or bluster. For my part I always tried to use comedy. I’ve just found people respond better to humour than threats, as anyone who has ever threatened a kiwi will no doubt testify.

Nothing funny quite came to mind as the five All Blacks stood to face me, and kept rising, though it did give me a profound appreciation of what a rival scrum has to deal with. “Help you?” The leader, whom I will hereafter refer to as ‘Zorg the Destroyer’ asked pleasantly.

“I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you gentlemen to leave,” I mumbled, staring at my shoes and wondering if this counted as treason. All I can say in my defence is that I was young and really needed the job. Now of course I would tell the owner to go and stick his job so far up his rectal passage he could brush his teeth with it.

“Really?” Zorg said. From behind him someone cried, “I’m so frightened” in falsetto. Zorg waved him quiet with a hand you could paddle a kayak with, and then turned back to me, looking me up and down, pencil thin in my $10 warehouse shirt. “How exactly are you going to do that?” he asked. He wasn’t being mean; I think he was genuinely intrigued.

“By asking nicely?”

He considered this. “And if that doesn’t work?”

“Well, I guess I’d have to slap you.” I said.

There was a sharp intake of breath. Zorg’s jaw dropped open. It looked like a castle’s portcullis opening. “Excuse me?” he said, wide-eyed and incredulous.

I shrugged. “I’d have to slap you,” I repeated, shaking my head sadly, ”and your girlfriend’s present, and all your friends. It’d just be embarrassing.”

There was an awful, awful moment of silence and then Zorg howled with laughter quickly followed by the rest, putting an arm around my shoulders and calling me, “a good c**t” before organising the group to move on somewhere they would be more appreciated. I meanwhile headed for the nearest toilet to clean my shorts.

I didn’t stay working in that bar long after that. But the moral of the story is to show no fear no matter what the situation. Though the next time the AB’s are being ‘rowdy’ someone else can go and bloody deal with it.

 

Dan Miles is the cult bestselling Author of “Filthy Still, a tale of travel, sex and perfectly made cocktails, set in the world of New Zealand’s late night bars and clubs”.

 
 

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About the author

Dan Miles is an award winning bartender who represented New Zealand in the 2008 Cocktail World Cup, the Olympics of the bar world, as part of a team known affectionately as The All Drunks. Now a journalist and comedy writer he is the author of the cult bestselling novel "Filthy Still - A tale of travel, sex and perfectly made cocktails."

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