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Jan 3, 2012 10:01 PM

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:


                        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 need the sweetness. " I was grateful for his expertise and deferred to his opinion.