Bourbon, neat

It’s my drink of choice when I’m playing music out these days. It is also often achingly hard to get. Usually I am told that musicians don’t get bourbon on the band tab (understandable, but I’ll pay to get the drink), or I get the kind of look a dog gives you when you stub his toe in front of him.

It’s really not hard. You take the bourbon. Your pour it in a glass. YOU DO NOTHING ELSE. That’s it! That’s how I enjoy my whiskey, and it has the benefit of lasting a couple of sets, but you’d think I was asking for a complex 14-ingredient mixologist special when I order it in some of the places I play. Inevitably, It comes with ice, it comes with ice and water, it comes with the question: “What would you like with that?” Nothing. That’s why they call it ‘neat.’

Saturday night, when I was playing at a decent restaurant for a dinner show, I ordered a Jack neat (they only had Jack and Jim Beam at the bar; my preference is Woodford Reserve, but Woodford and the places I play generally do not go together). Out came the ice and water even after I told the bartender twice that I wanted it neat. I gave up and knew this was as good as it was going to get.

My wife, who orders her tequilla neat (but does not sip it), has a more direct formula: Every time she orders it, she says, “No fruit, no salt, no ice — just pour it in a glass.” It still shows up with fruit, and sometimes salt.

Good whiskey deserves to be served neat. C’mon, bartenders: You can do it.


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