September 27, 2023 1:53 pm

Now That’s A Pour!

My wife and I frequently visit The Pizza Grille in Camp Hill, PA.  The food is great.  Most people opt for their specialty pizzas, but we love their seafood chowder.  The service is always prompt and if the timing is right, we can sit at a high top in front of the bar to watch three TVs with football, basketball, golf, or all three at the same time, while we chat, clear junk mail on our phones and catch up on the week.

It became pretty routine.  My wife orders a bowl of seafood chowder and a chopped salad.  She is a beer girl, so for her adult beverage; Blue Moon.  I order seafood chowder, pork shanks or tenderloin slider and ask “do you have any rye whiskey?  For years, the answer to my question was always: “Let me check”, followed by “no, but we have this bourbon or that blended whiskey”.  

One Saturday evening the waiter returned with; “how about Bulleit?”.  “Bourbon or Rye” I asked. “I think … Rye” he hesitantly proffered.  “What color is the label”, I queried.  At this point, my wife, who had ordered her Blue Moon with an orange wedge for the glass, was ready to order her meal.  “What does it matter?” she snapped, impatiently eager to get to her bowl of hot, steaming chowder filled with chunks of seafood.  He returned to the table triumphantly presenting a bottle displaying the green label of Bulleit Rye.  

For the next few years, I was happy to order Bulleit Rye.  It’s good solid rye,  often the lone rye representative on a shelf filled with bourbons, scotches, blended whiskies, and a plethora of white spirits used for cocktails.  Life was good.

After a few more years, I finally asked a waiter, “hey, do you think you could get some Old Overholt on the shelf”.  “I’ll check with the bar buyer”, he promised.  Weeks passed until the desire for seafood chowder and chopped salad induced my wife to hint, “we haven’t been to Pizza Grille in a while”.  That night, a high top was open, and we took our seats.  The same waiter appeared at the table.  Seeing my face, he immediately remembered he had forgotten to talk to the buyer about Old Overholt.  I was disappointed but there was always Bulleit Rye and of course the seafood chowder.  

Time passed and new wait staff appeared.  A new waitress started to “take care of us”.  Anikk flitted between customers seated at the high tops in front of the bar and served drinks to customers at the bar with no evidence of them ordering.  It was as if she just “knew” what they wanted.  After one visit she knew my wife drank Blue Moon.  After two visits she had the orange wedge on the rim of the glass as we walked through the door, nodding in the direction of an open high top we could occupy.  

She would approach the table and ask, “bowl or cup of seafood chowder?” “Here is your Blue Moon.” “And what can I get for you?” I would contemplate, but always reply “rye whiskey”.  One evening she came to the table.  “We have a new rye called Old Overholt”.   Of course I wanted a pour and each time I returned that’s what I ordered.

But, for some strange reason, I still had to speak my order.  Anikk arrived at the table, Blue Moon in hand, “seafood chowder, chopped salad and you want the Old Overholt?”  But she never brought the Overholt confidently like she did the Blue Moon.  I began to wonder …  was it me?  Did I look like a person who would say, “I didn’t order that”.  So, I finally asked, why do you know to bring a Blue Moon but you always ask me “and for you?”  I wish I could tell you she gave me an in-depth answer; some thoughtful analysis about my behavior that would give deeper insight into how others see me.  But she didn’t.  

She disappeared and came back with a huge pour.  I mean two fingers in a brandy snifter pour.  And since our conversation, it’s been like that.   I like walking into a place that I frequent, and they recognize me.  I value when people remember what I like and appreciate my patronage.  In fact, sometimes, it’s almost embarrassing how much of a pour I get when Anikk greets us at the table with a Blue Moon and a “pour” of Old Overholt.  But, I never cease enjoying her attention to detail and that little bit of extra whiskey born in Pennsylvania, now made in Kentucky.  Tip accordingly!

"Whisky is liquid sunshine."

George Bernard Shaw

“The light music of whiskey falling into a glass – an agreeable interlude.”

James Joyce

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