Be Careful What You Ask For

images I moseyed into a little saloon on Lexington in the 60s needing a drink to steady myself.  I had just come from an appointment leaving me flattened as though I were run over by a bus.

One of the reasons I chose this place even though there were three top hotels in the near vicinity, was I assumed it was cheap, and after my latest sojourn to the Carlyle, my budget was already bleeding.

I sat at the far end of the bar that was empty, the other side filled with men smelling like OTB, smoke clinging to their sleeves and whiskers, shots of whiskey warming their callused hands.  A rather large bartender in his early 70s I’ll say…a lifer…been bartending since infancy…ambles over in a yellowish permanent-press button-down popped open at the bottom.

“What’il be?” he says, leaning in, a rag tossed over his shoulder.

“Vodka and tonic please.  Extra lime.”  He nods, without asking, did I want a specific brand.  Red flag folks.  Unless you do want Stoli or something similar, make sure he’s not making that decision for you.  It ups your check like it was given Miracle Gro.

As I take my first sip, I realize, it’s all tonic.  Blow, I mean Joe, the bartender didn’t give me a full shot.  I’m just a girl in a wrinkled raincoat after all, he’s never seen before nor, more than likely, will again, so lets cheat her why don’t we.  A cynical theory, but it’s all I have.

Of course, I needed that buzz too badly not to address it.

“Excuse me, there’s hardly any vodka in here.  I’d like another one please.”

This was one place doing your best Jackie O held no weight.  If looks could kill, I would have been in cement shoes rather than Manolos since in seconds, he returns with a scowl and two glasses.  One empty, just with ice, the other filled to the brim with vodka he plunks down never taking his icy eyes off of me.

I say nothing, mixing the drink myself that in moments, puts me on my ass.  Suddenly I’m seeing two of him, which was more than a little alarming, while the room spun around like a dreidel.


“Check please.”

He sidles over with it already made out watching as I read it.

“Are you kidding me?  You are charging me for two drinks at 14 bucks apiece?  The Carlyle doesn’t charge this, plus the first one had no vodka.”

We then see two other goons glide in from the kitchen area awaiting my final reaction.  Now all I can say is, if I wasn’t so inebriated I would have held my own.  Would have argued and called for help if I had to, however…I knew, in more ways than one, I hadn’t a leg to stand on.

Well that’ill teach you Susannah to one, assume a place is inexpensive because the facade needs painting, and perhaps drinking in the shank of the afternoon when you’re already not at your best may not be such a great idea.  And who are you anyway, Lionel Barrymore who needs a stiffer drink than the one she’s given?

Yeah, lessons all around that second round, she thought, climbing headfirst into a cab thirty bucks poorer.


About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Thanks.
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26 Responses to Be Careful What You Ask For

  1. micklively says:

    I could sell you a still? Poitin (hootch to you) is an acquired taste but very economic.


  2. skinnyuz2b says:

    It’s cider making time again this weekend. My husband has a huge antique cider press that all his buddies love to help with – for a supply of cider. Come on up and we’ll give you a few quarts (or gallons) of hard cider!


  3. Beverly Giangiacomo says:

    I wish you had given the name of that bar….any of your readers would chastise them personally… AND now they are permanently off the list of places to show up on your blogs! That alone is a big loss for any bar. I do believe that any of your readers will show up at the Carlyle when they get to New York.
    I am planning a trip to the Big Apple to celebrate my 70th birthday next year and the Carlyle will for sure be one of my stops!


    • I would’ve recommended that place even it that didn’t happen. It lacks style and grace. PJ Clarkes on Third In the 50s where Sinatra hung out, yes. Pete Hamill opens his Why Sinatra Matters there. There’s McSorleys Saloon, Petes Tavern on Gramercy Park. The White Horse in the village where writers like Dylan Thomas hung out. But not that place…no sirree Beverly.


  4. It truly was a dump is they didn’t treat pretty women right. Sure hope you didn’t tip.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Here you are walking in, a lady just looking to quench her thirst, and they send you out, a total lush, and looking for a cab. New York, what a crazy town! 😀


  6. I thought I did the bar stories around here?! Ha! I still enjoy reading your stuff almost everyday!


  7. Patricia says:

    This has never happened to me. I’m tellin ya I am so boring.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s frustrating that there’s nothing you can do as a customer if the bartender pulls that on you, except never go there again, I guess. Still, that doesn’t help when you’re out 30 bucks with not much to show for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You know what I’m so impressed with? That you are able to just walk into a bar alone; hop on a stool like you run the place and get a drink. I have never done that in my life and now I’m asking myself why? Just another thing to add to my long bucket list.

    Liked by 1 person

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