Saturday, 6 April 2013

The Bacardi Mojito: Why can't I get one?

As professional servers, we have a well developed instinct for the guests we host. We've done this for years and we're good!  We can greet a first time guest at the door, hang their jacket, show them to their reserved table and already we have an accurate vibe for their quirky nature. Call it what ever you will, it just comes with experience. Clientele are quirky indeed (we all are) and they all have their own vision of what their experience should be. There's nothing more satisfying than a satisfied guest. Of course! This is our livelihood and the lifeblood of the establishments we work. However, we're wise enough to know there's countless ways a dining experience can go sideways. Weather it's a rocky dining room table, loud neighbors or a less then polished place setting, the possibilities are endless multiplied by pi!

No matter how great the challenge, it's swift recognition that puts a guest at ease and defines your establishment's standard. That's what professionals do. I certainly don't mind working my way back into the good graces of a disappointed guest. When addressed appropriately, it's often more lucrative than what a smooth service might have been. One of the golden pathways into the abyss of tables gone sideways is also one of my biggest pet peeves! In all my years of food and service nothing has had me stumped like The Bacardi Mojito.

Once little known, there isn't a single living being in North America that doesn't know what a Bacardi Mojito is. The commercial is outstanding and leaves you disappointed that it's only made for a 30 second time slot. Hell! I have two left feet and this commercial made me want to shake my money maker! What a trendy ad!  Have a look to refresh your memory.


Visit the website for the full version of that booty shakin' music while you learn Bacardi's Mojito recipe!

We've all been there as servers. One scenario or another. It doesn't happen too often but when it does, its relentless. You approach a table of four for the first time. You introduce yourself. You ask them if they'll keep sparkling water or still water on their table. You ask them if they'll enjoy a cocktail right away. You effectively record three drink request before the last requests a Bacardi Mojito. Congratulations! You're now the proud owner of a table that's already started to go sideways. You cringe and interrogation begins:

Server: I'm sorry we don't have fresh mint leaves.
Guest: Why don't you have fresh mint leaves?
Server: I don't know?
Guest: I really wanted a Mojito.
Server: I'm sorry.
Guest: Isn't there something else you can use?
Server: It can be prepared with creme de menthe.
Guest: I don't want creme de menthe. Isn't there a fresh herb you can use?
Server: We have no other fresh herb that shares the same characteristics of mint leaves.
Guest: What about basil leaves?
Server: I don't believe a Mojito cocktail would be best enjoyed with basil leaves.
Guest: Do you like Mojito's.
Server: Quite nice with fresh mint leaves.
Guest: Why don't you tell the restaurant owner to order mint leaves?
Server: I'd be happy to bring it to his attention.
Guest: Good because next time I come here,  I hope there's mint leaves.
Server: I hope so too.
Guest: Are you sure it can't be made with basil leaves?
Server: I wouldn't suggest you have a Mojito prepared with basil leaves.
Guest: Make one with basil leaves and I'll be the judge.
Server: Isn't there another cocktail that you normally enjoy?
Guest: I want a Mojito.
Server: Of course.

Throughout service the basil Mojito remains untouched. It won't be enjoyed for its contents. Moving forward it's towering monument, lest you forget the competence gunned down in it's place.

I consider myself a very articulate and professional server. I pride myself in my organizational skill and table side tact but there's something about "The Mojito Interrogation" that has me on my heals every time. My fear is to appear condescending in the wake of ignorance. It's for lack of a short and satisfying explanation that I can be found table side, swaying like a post in the wind. Your guest doesn't care why you don't have fresh mint. They're annoyed. You're a restaurant for crying out loud! What's the problem? You're supposed to have it! They only want a Mojito. So why can't they get one?

Despite what people think, a restaurant isn't an emporium of endless ingredients, herbs and spices. It's not a grocery store of magnificent proportions with thousands of costumers per day. More true, a restaurant has a menu that's a well thought out plan inspired by ingredients with several uses. Designed for profit without waste it allows a restaurant to offer its guest the best possible freshness at value.

The menu is inspired by clams:
Seafood Bouillabaisse
Linguine Vongole
Sea food Bisque
Clam Chowder
Cold Seafood Salad

The menu is inspired by marinara:
Spaghetti Pomodoro
Veal Parmesan
Tomato Basil Soup
Tortellini Boscaiola

The menu is inspired by eggplant:
Grilled Vegetable Salad
Eggplant Parmesan
Linguine Primavera
Vegetable Kabob

As you can see, all these inspired offerings contain ingredients with multiple uses. Designed for profit without waste it allows a restaurant to offer its guest the best possible freshness at value. Of course almost any restaurant offers fresh daily features but they too have to be integrated by careful design.

Your menu is inspired by mint:
Garnish for Select Cocktails Including Mojito's
Garnish for Dessert Plates
Mint Jelly
Chocolate Mint Sauce
Fruity Mint Coulis

I'm sure there's more but in order to integrate mint as a viable inspiration, it has to have enough uses by design for profit without waste and offer its guest the best possible freshness at value.

If you were to offer fresh mint as a cocktail garnish, you'd have to order it every other day. If you pushed your servers hard enough, you might sell five Mojito's in that span and a couple of After Eight Martini's. You could enjoy 200 covers on a Saturday night and only sell 40 desserts as people share two, three, four ways or won't have dessert at all. Maybe only a handful of those desserts are appropriately garnished with fresh mint, chocolate mint sauce or a fruity mint coulis. That leaves a whole lot of product to make mint jelly. You can garnish a rack of lamb with mint jelly but on a Saturday night of 200 covers you might only sell 20 of those. Considering weekday business is far more modest than an off-the-hook-Saturday-night, maybe mint in its freshest form, doesn't have a place on a menu at all!. I know it sounds harsh. It breaks my heart to say it. In most restaurants, fresh mint doesn't place in the grand scheme of profit, waste, freshness and value. However, if you planned a large party in advance and wanted to offer your guests a Mojito Punch made with fresh mint leaves, there's no restaurant in the world that would deny you.

By the power vested in me; I Chris Boukouris  hereby, banish The Bacardi Mojito to the back yard BBQ's of North America, to be enjoyed by all of legal drinking age for its citrusy contents and soda.
Not excluding Bacardi white rum and fresh mint.

I don't have anything against a Bacardi Mojito. They're quite nice actually. My concern lies with the relentless interrogation that follows a Mojito or nothing mentality. You'd be hard pressed to develop a short form explanation that doesn't sound condescending. One that would stop a fresh breathing Mojito dragon in their tracks. If you do have one..........this waiter's all ears.

Now, will you enjoy a cocktail right away?

No comments :

Post a Comment