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Restaurants that won't let you 'have it your way"

At a fine dining restaurant the other night, there was a cocktail on the menu that contained Jalepeno. My date asked if she could get it without the Jalepeno. The waiter went to check with the bartender.

He came back to tell us that the bartender refused. His words were that it was "against her ethics."

I thought this was charming, kind of like the soup nazi. It indicates a mixologist that cares about her creations.

My girlfriend was furious. She said that she was the customer and she should be able to get it however she wanted.

What do you think?

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  1. It is definitely within the bartender's right to do so. It is her creation. However, she is taken it way too serious.

    I understand when a chef refuses to cook beef or pork because it is against her religion or other beliefs. I also understand when a chef refuses a customer's requests because it is too difficult to do, for example, the jalapeno has already been used to marinate the meat.

    In this case, the bartender has the right, but she should be more accommodating. Sorta like it is my right not to hold a door open for a stranger, but I should do it.

    Did you use your tigercrane?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      "I understand when a chef refuses to cook beef or pork because it is against her religion or other beliefs. "

      On the other hand, such a chef wouldn't be employed very long at a steakhouse.

      1. re: wayne keyser

        True. Let's assume the restaurants do not require or advertise beef or pork, just like the fact that tigercrane's experience in a dining restaurant which does not require jalapeno. If tigercrane went to a bar called "Jalapeno", then I understand why they refused to serve a drink without jalapeno.

    2. I've worked in restaurants that bend over backwards to cater to people's wants, i've also worked in restaurants that want to demonstrate and show the chef's art with food, you have it the way they want it to be or you don't have it at all. I understand both sides of the argument, and I guess it just depends on the type of restaurant you go to and the experience they are trying to provide. Some places you can modify your food all you want, other places feel you won't get what they want you to get if you don't have it how it should be, they are entitled to that as well

      1. In a recent letter to Dan Savage, a boyfriend wrote in that after having relations, his girlfriend took out her cell phone and started texting. The boyfriend went nuts and stopped speaking to the girlfriend.

        Dan said, yes, the girlfriend was wrong to start texting and should apologize.
        Dan went on to add that letter-writer's reaction was 10 times worse and he should apologize to the girlfriend.

        In other words, the slight (bartender's decision) is small but your date's reaction is 10 times worse.

        14 Replies
        1. re: pdxgastro

          Hm, I thought that letter was a girlfriend complaining about her girlfriend.

          Regardless, is it possible that the jalapeño aspect was not separable from the cocktail in some way? Or was it clearly only fresh jalapeño muddled or stirred into the drink? If the latter, the bartender probably needs to get over herself. I'm curious what the cocktail was and what integrity would have been ruined. I do support chefs having limits to a degree, but I also think you have to earn the right to have a my way or the highway policy.

          1. re: babette feasts

            Maybe the drink just would have sucked without chile however it was included - like salsa. Maybe the girlfriend just seemed like an over-entitled pain in the ass to the server and no one felt it worth it to accommodate her.

            1. re: babette feasts

              The jalepeno was seperable from the drink, we asked.

                1. re: LeoLioness

                  I went to the website, and unfortunately, they seem to have taken it off the menu.

                  1. re: LeoLioness

                    Found it! It was Rum, jalapeno, lime, absinthe and tamarind soda.

                2. re: babette feasts

                  Found it! It was Rum, alapeno, lime, absinthe and tamarind soda.

                  One Yelper described it as "Not an easy balancing act to pull off without turning into bachelorette party fair, but it was done and elegantly so."

                  I can see why with those weird flavors you wouldn't want to pull an ingredient.

                  1. re: tigercrane

                    Thanks for tracking it down! I have not tasted absinthe, but rum, lime, and tamarind seem like they would be just fine together and not need jalapeno to make sense.

                    1. re: babette feasts

                      Its the absinthe that makes it sound a little crazy to me. Honestly, I'm suspicious of any cocktail with more than four ingredients.

                      Absithine is a very strong herbal liquore that predominately tastes of liqorice.

                    2. re: tigercrane

                      Then the bartender should have politely informed your girlfriend that the jalapeno was as integral to the drink as peanut butter to a Reese's Peanut Butter cup, so unfortunately, she really just couldn't make that change. "But may I make you some other exciting drink that you may otherwise prefer? What type of drink do you like?"

                      "Against my ethics." Oh barf!

                      1. re: EarlyBird

                        This whole topic reminded me of something.

                        Have you listened to the Louis CK interview on NPR? The entire interview is wonderful, but jump to 8:15 min to hear about the principle and ethic part:

                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EA-dBq...

                        1. re: EarlyBird

                          yes "I'm sorry but I can make you 'this' instead" would have been the correct response. (or even better from a tip standpoint) "I'll do something extra special" and just send out a Gimlet with a hint of tamarind.

                          1. re: hill food

                            Or just a plain ol' Cosmo, but call it something like "Night in Paris".

                            1. re: EarlyBird

                              oh I'd go more Marx Brothers with that name "...and an Afternoon on Cape Cod"

                  2. Hmm..I have mixed feelings about this. I think the chef has a right to have to integrity of their creation respected. In this case, maybe the flavor of the drink would be changed significantly without the jalapeno.
                    I have a severe food allergy..and if I see something on a menu that looks otherwise good but for the offending ingredient, I will sometimes ask if the dish can be prepared without the ingredient. Most of the time this is doable..but sometimes the ingredient is such an integral part of the dish that it can't be done. I respect that and never have a problem choosing something else.

                    1. I would guess that the jalapeno was a part of the specific cocktail. If she didn't want a jalapeno, then she should have ordered something else.
                      and it sounds like like an uptight bartender, too.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: wyogal

                        A smart waitress would have returned with an alternate cocktail to suggest. Instead of saying that the bartender refused, should have said, "Sorry that is not possible, the bartender suggests this instead".

                        1. re: viperlush

                          Of course.
                          But, I would also wager that a drink that has a jalapeno in it is a specialty drink that wouldn't be the same without it.
                          Yes, the waitress should have handled it better. and I hope it was reflected in the size of the tip.

                          1. re: viperlush

                            Yes, exactly. A smart bartender would have suggested an alternative. There were undoubtedly good reasons not to eliminate a key ingredient, but surely something along the same lines could have been suggested. Citing "ethics" is over the top.

                            1. re: mbfant

                              To be fair the "ethics" line was the waiter's summary of her position. I'm betting she would have been more diplomatic to our face. I was in a similar situation. I asked a bartender if he could leave the vermouth out of a speciality cocktail. He shook his head and said, "It won't work...you need the sweetness. " I was grateful for his expertise and deferred to his opinion.

                        2. I think it's fair, I mean, it tampers with the original creation and perhaps the flavours wouldn't blend as well as they would if there were Jalepenos. There are restaurants which refuse to have vegetarian menus or options saying that it interferes with their style, which is fine, I don't see the issue. The waiter could have just suggested a non-Jalepeno alternative, I don't see why they needed to get so ethical about it.

                          1. I can see this happening with food and being ok with it. As stated by others, there is the integrity of a dish. Also, there are often logistics involoved that we can not see. Substitute mashed potato for rice? Should be easy except maybe the kitchen only prepared enough mashed to go along with a specific entree and giving a different entree that particular side will lead to the kitchen coming up short at the end of service. Maybe changing an ingredient requires a cook to individually prepare that particular dish using three more pans/burners and possibility throwing service off completely for the rest of the restaurant - yes it can and does happen. Sometimes you just have a stuck up chef who is insulted that you dare to question his dish - in those cases, the chef is a jerk.

                            Now, over to the bar. You gotta be shitting me. Unless something is premixed and can't be changed, give the customer what they want. Your girlfriend is right to be pissed - maybe not to make a scene but be pissed nonetheless. When I tended bar oh-so-many years ago, I got crazy requests all the time. 12 year old scotch and grapefruit juice? Hey, that was against my ethics as a drinker but I poured the drink. If the bartender really had any ethics, they probably woud not be tending bar in the first place. I would be BS if I were the owner and I heard my bartender was refusing to make a drink for a customer for any reason other than them being intoxicated - that's when ethics comes into play behind a bar. What's next? I don't pour light beer because it's swill? I only make a Rob Roy with bitters and if a customer requests it without, I refuse? I'm not going to serve that bottle of white wine with your steak? I've been known to frequent bars and I have a great appreciation for a good mixologist but I have never heard of this before and believe it falls into the "you gatta be kidding me" category.

                            1. "She said that she was the customer and she should be able to get it however she wanted. What do you think?"

                              I disagree with the girlfriend.

                              The girlfriend has every right to ask for the change. The bartender as every right to decline (although quoting "ethics" is just a load of bollocks). End of story.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Harters

                                Yeah the "ethics" comment makes them look a prat. In these matters the service provider has the right to determine the level of service and the customer can make a decision if it's not acceptable and bugger off somewhere that will meet their needs.

                              2. Both are in the wrong.

                                Girlfriend should not assume every place will tailor dishes to her specific desires.

                                The bartender was well within her rights to not alter a drink where the taste would be affected (what if I wanted a Negroni but without the Campari?) but should have offered a reasonable substitute instead and not made a bitchy/idiotic comment about her "ethics". It's called the "hospitality" business for a reason.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: LeoLioness

                                  I agree if the girlfriend expects every dish that comes from the kitchen to be made her way but I'm not sure that's what she expects - maybe the OP can help me out here - is she just talking about the bar? If so, I gotta say again, she should get what she wants as long as she's willing to pay. Then there's the ethics question - with a bar? If the bartender was really ethical, she wouldn't serve at least half the garbage that's behind the bar in the first place. Then, you take a top shelf vodka for example, mix it with two different juices, maybe another top shelf liquor, shake and garnish with a cherry and kiwi and charge you up the ass because of all the top shelf stuff that you couldn't discern from any bar brand after it's been mixed with all that other stuff. Oh yeah, "you can't have it without the kiwi because it's against my ethics". I appear to be in the minority but there's a huge difference between the effort that goes into making a plate of food and effort that goes into making a cocktail. Apples and oranges.

                                  1. It is good to have a sense of entitlement, however misplaced.

                                    1. Well, for those who need to have it "their way", there's always BK.

                                      13 Replies
                                      1. re: linguafood

                                        I was going to say that.... haha

                                        Maybe they pre muddle the jalapeño with whatever herbs etc at the beginning of the shift, so she literally COULDN'T make it w/o jalapeño?

                                        1. re: kubasd23

                                          We established that this was not the case...she could have left out the jalepeno, but wouldn't.

                                          1. re: tigercrane

                                            Then couldn't the person who ordered the drink just remove the jalapeno when it was served? I've been served dishes with something I didn't like on top, took it off and enjoyed the dish.

                                            1. re: escondido123

                                              Exactly! The jalapeno was more a garnish than anything else. It probably imparted some flavor to the drink between the bar and the table but, that's it. Just remove it.

                                        2. re: linguafood

                                          Forget BK; It aint so. Just ask for it 'rare' or tell them you want grilled onions and see what they tell you.

                                            1. re: scubadoo97

                                              Yeah; I learned my lesson the hard way and never went back.

                                              1. re: mucho gordo

                                                mucho, how do they cook it rare? Does the chainmaille patty conveyor have a variable speed transmission?

                                                1. re: Veggo

                                                  You're right; they can't do it rare given what they have to work with.

                                              2. re: scubadoo97

                                                That (asking for a medium rare burger at BK) is like a daring game. You dare them for a lawsuit, and they dare you may just die.

                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                  The same is true for that thin hockey puck they shamelessly serve

                                              3. re: mucho gordo

                                                I think BK burgers are now delivered pre-cooked, At least last I heard. Grill marks and all.

                                            2. I don't think this would have even been an issue if the customer service side of things went more smoothly. Bartender and waiter need to work as a team, get the story straight, and present it with as much kindness as possible ("bartender doesn't think drink will hold together well without the jalapeno.. how about x instead") ... Making the bartender look bad by repeating that line about ethics (basically, an insult to your GF's judgement) doesn't do anyone any good. I always get annoyed when an employee thinks I want to hear them sabotage someone else on staff at their establishment.

                                              3 Replies
                                                1. re: MiriamWoodstock

                                                  Absolutely agree. "Airing dirty laundry" does neither party any good, ever. Just bad form and doesn't accomplish anything. At least not what it was intended to.

                                                  1. re: MiriamWoodstock

                                                    I agree. Whenever you put something unusual or challenging on a menu, you need to decide in advance whether you will allow substitutions, be prepared with an alternative, and educate all service staff on what that alternative might be.

                                                  2. I think its completely ridiculous, although Im from the school of bending over backwards to please your guest. While in college, a restaraunt I was bartending at won a james beard award for outstanding service, so maybe Im just jaded. I believe restaurants should do anything within reason to make the guest leave feeling they have been treated like a king.

                                                    1. it's a polarizing topic that's come up on occasion here on CH. i personally have a problem with restaurants that have a completely inflexible menu-wide "no substitutions or modifications" policy, because i can't eat gluten or soy, and basically they're saying that just because i might need them to leave a garnish off a dish, my business isn't welcome there. but i *do* understand that there are certain instances - such as a set tasting menu - where asking for changes to accommodate my limitations would be inappropriate, and i'm fine with that. and i don't agree with your girlfriend's contention that the customer should be able to get something "however" they want it. some patrons want to modify menu items so much that the result ends up bearing little resemblance to the original dish, and that's just an insult to the chef (or mixologist). plus, omitting a certain ingredient can really throw off the balance of flavors or textures in a dish or a drink. that may have been the case with the cocktail your girlfriend ordered, and if so, the bartender could have handled it quite civilly by offering that explanation and perhaps even recommending a different cocktail instead.

                                                      a couple of other related threads in case you're interested:
                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/628454
                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/512775

                                                      3 Replies
                                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                          Looked over these links. Seems like a different situation. In middlebrow dining, no substitutions is simply a decline in service. This restaurant is run by a top chef winner, and the implication of a cocktail menu is that you are getting an artfully crafted cocktail.

                                                          Recommending another drink is another matter. I suspect that if we were sitting at the bar it would have gone down differently. She ordered this particular drink because it was the only rum-based drink on the menu. This is a rotating menu place, and I'm sure she has other rum drinks up her sleeve.

                                                          1. re: tigercrane

                                                            In middlebrow dining, no substitutions is simply a decline in service.
                                                            ~~~~~~~~
                                                            i think you're over-generalizing. a few posters in those threads seem to think the server's ignorance or ineptitude was the reason they couldn't get a modified dish, but there's no way to confirm if that was the case...plus, a wide range of restaurants was addressed in those discussions. and i don't see why it matter if the place is highbrow, "middlebrow," or your local hole in the wall joint, or whether it's run by a winner of a TV cooking competition or some no-name local yokel.

                                                            as for your comment that "the implication of a cocktail menu is that you are getting an artfully crafted cocktail," doesn't it support the idea that something expertly crafted/composed by its creator should be respected as such, and not modified at the whim of a customer? please know that i'm not attacking you or your girlfriend here, i'm just trying to understand your position.

                                                        2. You could go all Jack Nicholson: I'll have a rum, lime, absinthe, and tamarind soda. Wicked big grin. Leave it at that, and see what happens.

                                                          6 Replies
                                                          1. re: monfrancisco

                                                            That's exactly what my girlfriend said.

                                                            1. re: tigercrane

                                                              Nuts. I'm always disappointed but never surprised that that doesn't work so well in real life. Good movie, though.

                                                              1. re: monfrancisco

                                                                Well, she didn't say it to the waiter, just to me.

                                                                1. re: tigercrane

                                                                  She sounds like a keeper! Thanks for the clarification; I kind of wondered before I posted.

                                                              1. re: monfrancisco

                                                                That was exactly my thought, and exactly what I would have done. In fact we did do that at a restaurant (see my 11/29/10 post in this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/742481) when confronted with a similar attitude. I am in 100% agreement with bobbert on this issue. Ethics? Please. It's a bar, not a hospital.

                                                              2. Order another cocktail...one without jalapeno.

                                                                1. My rule is that you can always ask, and they can always say no. Unless you have a food allergy that makes it difficult to find things you can eat, the correct response to "no" is to simply order something else or take your business elsewhere.

                                                                  1. Being in the industry I take offensive to customers who change a "signature dish" for what ever reason and then go blog about how "bad" it was without mentioning their substitution/omission. My rule of thumb is "if it's reasonable to do, we can do it". Otherwise order something else. My bartenders would gladly suggest an alternative beverage. My cooks go the extra mile nightly.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: chef0625

                                                                      Exactly. Like someone that starts with a recipe, substitutes this or that, then complains that the recipe didn't turn out. If you are ordering a signature cocktail off a menu, then order what is there. If you don't want the signature cocktail, then yes, order something else.
                                                                      Maybe it is the jalapeno that ties the other weird flavors together. Without it, it wouldn't be the same drink.

                                                                    2. Nesx time, just order ...

                                                                      * Rum, lime, absinthe and tamarind soda. * no garnish or jalapeno.

                                                                      If they refuse again, tell them your ethics will not allow you to tip. I generally never advocate stiffing staff, however, I would make an exception in this case and make the statement....if not nothing else but to gain their attention.

                                                                      1. I think I would have laughed out loud when the waiter said the word "ethics". I think I would have been laughing too hard to be furious.

                                                                        1. If the jalapeno was a mere garnish, then the bartender was being an ass. If it was truly integral to the cocktail, say the equivalent of mint to a mojito, then your girlfriend was being unreasonable, and the bartender was being an ass.

                                                                          In either situation, why couldn't the precious bartender have come to your girlfriend and said, "please try it this way, I think you'll really appreciate it", and if the girlfriend didn't like it, encourage her to try something else? Or, in some way you know, generally treat the customer like a CUSTOMER.

                                                                          I am REALLY tired of snotty bartenders. They choose to work with the public, and they should cater to the patron, not the other way around. Bartenders who pretend not to notice you at the bar if you don't apparently know the secret wave, or way to get their attention, or get pissy because the patron doesn't know what "neat" means, etc., is so obnoxious.

                                                                          Boycott these places.

                                                                          24 Replies
                                                                          1. re: EarlyBird

                                                                            "If the jalapeno was a mere garnish, then the bartender was being an ass. If it was truly integral to the cocktail, say the equivalent of mint to a mojito, then your girlfriend was being unreasonable. "

                                                                            I don't really care if its integral to the drink. Had someone asked me for a mojito without mint back in my bartending days I would have simply politely warned them that it might not be a very good drink, but if they still wanted it I would have happily made it for them. It's called the service industry, not the be preachy about food and drinks industry.

                                                                              1. re: twyst

                                                                                Isn't a mojito w/out mint a caipirinha?

                                                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                                                  A caipirinha uses cahaca. With white rum it would be a daquiri.

                                                                                  1. re: tigercrane

                                                                                    Cachaca is essentially Brazilian rum.

                                                                                    1. re: Veggo

                                                                                      There's some debate about whether it qualifies as a rum. Personally, I agree with you. But its not a capipirinha without Cachaca.

                                                                                      Although actually, a daquiri uses lime juice, not muddled limes, so I don't know what we'd call the mintless mojito.

                                                                                    2. re: tigercrane

                                                                                      Funny. I always use cachaca for my mojitos. Guess I can't call 'em that anymore, either, huh?

                                                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                                                        You've created a new drink! Now you get to name it!

                                                                                        May I suggest "Mojo do Rio"?

                                                                                        In all honesty, I make my mojitos with spiced rum.

                                                                                    1. re: twyst

                                                                                      Medicine is a part of the service industry, as is practicing law.

                                                                                      1. re: MGZ

                                                                                        Not sure I understand what you mean.

                                                                                        1. re: tigercrane

                                                                                          I think he means doctors and lawyers tell you what to do, good service doesn't always mean have it your way.

                                                                                          1. re: tigercrane

                                                                                            I agree with hsk interpretation, and understand where MGZ is coming from, but I don't entirely agree.

                                                                                            Here is why. Yes, medical doctors belong to the service industry, but there is a lot more objectivity in their lines of work than say a chef or a mixologist. Let's say I am in risk of type 2 diabetes (high fasting glucose level, high HbA1c...etc). The doctor will likely advise for a lifestyle change including exercise and diet. His advice should be based on the current scientific findings, not based on what I want to eat. I may believe consuming 7 cans of soft drinks is good for me, but he shouldn't go along with what I want, but what I need.

                                                                                            I think we can all agree to that.

                                                                                            However, chefs and mixologists are different. What I want in my foods and drinks are much more personal and subjective. Maybe I prefer tilapia over a filet mignon. Maybe I hate the taste of jalapeno. Just because you like key lime pie without cream, it does not mean you know I would like it without the cream.

                                                                                            This is not the same as doctor. We know for sure that eating donuts everyday is not good for diabetes.

                                                                                            This is not to say a mixologist or a bartender has to make whatever the customer wants, but I think the flexibility is very different between the jobs of a bartender and that of a doctor. There is a huge difference between a doctor saying "It is against my ethic to prescribe this drug to you" versus a bartender saying "It is against my ethic to remove jalapeno from this drink"

                                                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                              I was primarily attempting to suggest caution in ascribing something pejorative to the service industry.* Whether I am installing an electrical outlet, negotiating a settlement, or making a martini, it all basically boils down to, "Do you want fries with that?" The amount of respect I am accorded in each situation is typically based upon the knowledge of the task that the client possesses and their preconceived notions of what it means to be performing such a task.

                                                                                              This is no different than the comments I've made on these types of threads many other times over the years.** At bottom, I've always championed the right of a chef or restauranteur to be treated as a professional and not as a servant. Similarly, I've always suggested that many people fail to exhibit an appropriate level of respect to those who they engage to perform services for them. Particularly when they do so based upon a socio-economic assumption.***

                                                                                              Because of the fact that the term "ethic" was used in the instant matter (quite possibly as a malaprop), I chose to be a bit ironic and cite the two professions where members are licensed and actually bound by a formal code of ethics. Such an objective set of ethical rules can provide an easy safe harbor. It is often much more difficult to abide by one's own subjective convictions - especially when it is likely to result in financial detriment.

                                                                                              *There is practically no other industry in the US.

                                                                                              **Sadly, most of them wind up lost, having been closed with the infamous, "Folks, we're going to lock this thread . . . ."

                                                                                              ***My inner socialist sometimes gets to speak up.

                                                                                              1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                Im sorry, but I find comparing doctors, lawyers and electricians and the way they do their jobs to how bartenders do their jobs a completely ludicrous analogy. If something goes wrong in their line of work because of something you directed them to do, people get sick and die, go to jail, lose a settlement or possibly get electrocuted. If a bartender makes a drink following your request and it doesn't work out, the only consequence is a drink that doesn't taste good.

                                                                                                Furthermore, yes, almost everything falls into the service industry category if you are being technical, but waiting tables and tending bar is known as "THE service industry" If someone asks you what you do and you reply that you work in the service industry they will immediately know you are a restaurant worker. I love the service industry and I know that its often a thankless job that is orders of magnitude more difficult than most people realize, but at the end of the day your main job is to make people happy.

                                                                                                1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                  MGZ,

                                                                                                  I see. I understand where you are coming from. I do think you are correct that most people do not treat chefs or restauranteurs of much respect. In fact, I think most people do not treat waiters and waitresses with enough respect, but that is another topic. You are correct that being a chef is a skill profession, but I think a chef should be more accomondating than say a doctor because what is "in the line". A doctor's bottom line duty is patient's health. Patients visit doctor for health, and most patients do not understand general health and medicine as well as doctors. The patients may know certain aspects of their health better, but generally speaking, the doctors know the bigger picture. I think a chef's and a bartender's ultimate position is about taste and entertain. People go out to eat and drink to be have a good tasting experience and to be happy. A lot of things about eating out is about being happy -- like nice clean table, nice view, nice background music, nice waiter/waitress service, nice food...etc.

                                                                                                  Surely, you know many people (including food critics) judge the quality of restaurants on view, music, lighting...etc. We certainly do not do that to a doctor office. If I said doctor A was able to diagnose and treat my rare cancer yet his office has no good view, play bad music and there is a funny smell, then I think most people would still consider the medicial experience to be very positive. However, if I said bartender A was able to make very good martini, but the music is loud and the bar seat smell and sticky, then I think many people will think twice about visiting the bar. The restaurant/bar experience is much more than just the food and drink themselves.

                                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                    Of course I agree that their are certain distinctions between different positions in service industries. My point is, and has always been, to call attention to the similarities. What I would also say is that all service professionals' primary duty is to act in the best interest of the client,* not necessarily their happiness. Determining best interest is ultimately subjective. If a bartender honestly believes that a drink will suck without a chile or that a patron has had enough to drink, I think it is fair to accord them with the benefit of the doubt that they have adequately performed their duty. Perhaps, they have made an error or not performed their duty, but that has nothing to do with how much education someone has or what service they provide.

                                                                                                    *Or, as you say it, "A doctor's . . . duty is patient's health."

                                                                                                    1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                      " What I would also say is that all service professionals' primary duty is to act in the best interest of the client"

                                                                                                      Agree. However, there are more objective aspects in being a doctor than being a bartender. What I mean is that taste is much more subjective. Some people love rosemary, but some people hate it. Some people like beef serves medium rare, but some like it medium well.

                                                                                                      It is true that a bartender may believe a drink will taste bad without a chile for himself or herself, but the bartender does not know if the patron will like it or not. If the bartender actually knows the drink will suck without a chile FOR THE PATRON, then sure you are absolutely correct, but I am not sure if this bartender would know that.

                                                                                                      This is different than a doctor knows a certain drug is not suitable for diabeteic patients.

                                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                        I've been paid to perform each of the tasks I've listed above hence my focus on the similarities. To that end, I've never known any professional who purports to act with absolute certainty when suggesting an affirmative course of action. On the other hand, it is possible to know what is not an unacceptable course of action with much greater clarity. For example, like your doctor treating a diabetic, a bartender knows that arsenic is not suitable for coating the rim of a glass.

                                                                                                        1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                          MGZ

                                                                                                          "a bartender knows that arsenic is not suitable for coating the rim of a glass."

                                                                                                          Absolutely agree. You bought up very good points. I think there are many things which a bartender does can be with great certainty, like the perfect arsenic example you have used. I can also imagine adding 3 tablespoon of salt into a martini would probably be a bad idea for everyone. I can also understanding adding 3 tablespoons of chili to a drink will probably be undrinkable for everyone. I am not sure if "taking out" of chili (in the original example) will make it undrinkable.

                                                                                                          I think there is a fine line between doing what you think is best for the others and what you think is best for yourself (like pride). Did you get to hear the Louis CK interview on NPR. I have a link up there? In that scene, LouisCK quited a job at the Trump hotel because he was not allowed to tell certain jokes. He walked out because he thought he is doing something on an ethic and principled stance, but at closer examination, he admitted it is a self-serving position. It wasn't able what was good for others. It was able what he himself wants.

                                                                                                          I think if a bartender refused to do something because he/she thinks it is not the best for the patron, then sure. However, I think a lot of time, the bartender thinks it is a matter of expression like an artist wants to express his own creation. In that case, it is a self-serving position. A customer wanted her photo taken in color, and a photographer refused to do anything but black-and-white. In this case, it is about what the photographer wants to express himself in an artistic manner, but it is also a self-serving position. He can certainly do it, but it is not the same as a doctor refusing to prescribe certain drug due to harmful effects.

                                                                                                          That being said and all, it is the right of the photographer or bartender to refuse to do something. I am just wonder if it is not more about the bartender than about the customer in this case.

                                                                                                          1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                            exactly... i know chefs who are extremely ethical and have ethical basis for everything they do.

                                                                                                            there are folks who *should* have gone into their respective fields in order to be ethical, but instead are unethical: the police officer or politician who accepts bribes, the pedophile priest/clergy, the doctor who bilks medicare for millions and accepts lavish "gifts" from drug companies in order to over-prescribe their product....

                                                                                                        2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                          Yes, but the people who like the beef medium well are *wrong*. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

                                                                                                          Just like ordering a Jewish Style pastrami with mayonaise. Its wrong. You've misunderstood the food. A good server needs to save the patron from himself.

                                                                                                          (I'm only talking about Jewish pastrami. The lean, dry stuff that they serve in goyistan, you can go crazy with.)

                                                                                                          1. re: tigercrane

                                                                                                            :) Ha ha ha. There you go then. That bartender was saving your girlfriend from herself. It is against the bartender ethic to see your girlfriend walking over the cliff and not stop her.

                                                                                                            :D

                                                                                                    2. re: MGZ

                                                                                                      Well said. I don't understand most of it but well done nonetheless:)

                                                                                                      Only (slightly) kidding. Well said.

                                                                                          2. I agree w/ your girlfriend that you should be able to have what you want your way. But I will add that I've always felt that dramatically changing certain dishes or drinks or having them prepared in a certain way (i.e. steak well done) should disqualify you as a "foodie".

                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                              Totally agree. GF is not a foodie. (This is a conflict between us) But I think if she's going to a foodie restaurant, she should understand the ettiquette.

                                                                                              1. re: tigercrane

                                                                                                If food is important to you then you should try and find a food passion that she has (if any) and build from there. In my experience tho' people are typically easy to read on this. I couldn't marry a non-foodie. It's too much of me and too intimate of an act to not to be able to share w/ your SO

                                                                                                1. re: tigercrane

                                                                                                  It's just a drink, but if the creator wants to make it a certain way and refuses to serve it any other way what's the harm in selecting something else? If I had a GF who got furious over such a minor thing I would think hard about whether the relationship is worth maintaining. Especially if I thought the attitude was charming.

                                                                                              2. Well....having been at many a restaurant that would not cook a burger or steak the way I want it--blue/rare. I just kind of shrug my shoulders and go to something else. I realize that only a small percentage of good restaurants will cook my red meat the way is should be served. Red.
                                                                                                That being said, the bartender sounds like a jerk with the "ethics" remark. I don't put the onus on the waitress--it should be on the bartender. If I could not get the drink I ordered--I would just get a diet coke or water--and the bartender would be left out of a decent tip and my word of mouth to others would be--Stay away from the bar.

                                                                                                1. Why couldn't the bartender have said simply, "Yes, I can take out the jalapeno, but the drink will be nasty without it. Perhaps you'd prefer something else?" That would have been honest (and yes, I do understand when you can't remove an ingredient without wrecking the dish) but it wouldn't have been so snooty and self-righteous.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                    I think for the bartender it may have been a cumulative effect at work. This customer may have only ever made the request once, but likely the bartender has received such similar requests dozens if not hundreds of times. Like being pelted by a ping-pong ball a thousand times in the course of one's tenure - the first ping-pong ball is light and has little effect; by the thousandth one, you're ready to loose your mind from the ever-present pelting. And thus possibly be more reactive by that point. The bartender may have developed a 'stock' answer to such requests, in order to minimize further engagement. Not exactly service-oriented problem-solving, but it does explain such sterile responses...