Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | March 13, 2009

Mixmaster Derek Brown

The Gibson’s Derek Brown has a new gig blogging for The Atlantic magazine’s brand spankin’ new cocktail blog Mixmaster. Derek’s first post, “The World’s Greatest Wingmen” is a bartender’s take on watching sorry customers fail in their attempts to pick up other guests at bars.

In my bartending career, I’ve seen more strikeouts, flops, and fizzles than peewee baseball, but the idea that you can’t meet someone worthwhile at a bar is a little absurd. After all, most of you go to bars, right? And those of you who are single find yourselves willing to meet people and even let those chance encounters bloom in to meaningful relationships. Right?

However, approaching a woman after you’ve polished off a few too many drinks, with a lecherous swagger or worse the “amorous gaze”– you affix your eyes on a woman and stare, hoping that by some alcoholic-friendly technology your vision will work like tractor beams–is thoughtless, and shows just how little one believes in humanity.

Derek goes on to explore the awkwardness he feels, knowing a guy is going to strike out when trying to pick up a female patron. There are clearly ethical questions for a bartender: should he intervene? should he bounce a guy for making  unwanted approaches on another guest? Obviously the venue probably should influence the bartender’s role. A fine establishment like The Gibson or Tabard Inn should have a different set of standards than, say, Front Page or Rumors. I think there’s something artful about House Rule #5 at Milk & Honey:

Gentlemen will not introduce themselves to ladies. Ladies, feel free to start a conversation or ask the bartender to introduce you. If a man you don’t know speaks to you, please lift your chin slightly and ignore him.

For me, this is something that is important for the same reasons as the door policy at a good cocktail bar. You’re there to enjoy cocktails, usually with friends you came with or with a friendly bartender. You don’t want to be intruded upon, be it by an unwanted suitor or the press of a crowd angling for another drink. In this sense, having a filter of a bartender between two strangers meeting in a bar is reasonable. But your mileage may vary…

It’s nice to see that in addition to mixing some of the finest cocktails in DC, Derek is a great writer too. I’m looking forward to seeing his blogging continue.

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