In either 2011 or maybe 2010, in a gathering of friends in San Francisco, the topic of the bar “la Cantina” was brought up. It was after all just a mere five blocks down the street from my old apartment on Sutter Street. I can’t remember if the topic raiser was talking about it in a positive or negative fashion, but in my typical manner of “smooth & groom” I stated, “Fuck that place. I wouldn’t set foot in there even if the hookers were free.”
The last part of that was in respect to a running joke amongst bar owner friends that the NIMBYs in San Francisco were convinced that they harbored hookers in their establishments. The first part of that statement was in regard to two events that happened on the same night, nearly simultaneously.
It was a night at la Cantina where they were celebrating the Chilean drink, Pisco. Newfound Pisco Sour fan and I headed down there to partake of the cocktail happenings. Unfortunately, we realized that upon arrival, most of the Financial District had as well. That’s not actually the whole truth though as they were seemingly unaware of the festivities and were more interested in the general boozing, brah.
Tossed on top of this heap of white collar on blue shirt, striped shirt on jeans, and hoodie over French cut shirts was a bartender that I refer to as Tom Booz. Maybe you’ve seen him. He’s not terribly tall, wears a homohawk that’s three years out of fashion (although he may have switched to a Beiber blow at this late date), and he makes drinks like he’s masturbating to stop the world from coming to an end mixed with a delightful essence of Tom Cruise in Cocktail.
I made the mistake of ordering a Pisco Sour from him, which he proceeded to toss in a shaker and pummel in the air. I’m not sure if it was the shaking or the hardcore, pornstar grimace on his face, but I swear that he exuded enough kinetic energy from his efforts that the lights in the bar shone just a bit brighter while he delved in to the depths of his obviously astute mixology.
While Tom was busy shaking his money maker, out of the corner of my eye, one of the stripe-shirted ones was making the moves on a girl. He was fat in that stock trader kind of fat that makes you think when he’s not buying low and selling high, he’s obviously drinking beer. Tonight, he was drinking cocktails as you don’t go to la Cantina for beer.
While one of his meaty paws was firmly grasping a low ball glass of dubious alcoholic proportions, the other was casually, and oh-so-slyly smoothing its way down the back of some Chinese-American girl, deftly dressed in corresponding Financial District attire; the keyring fob to a BMW visibly peeking out of her purse.
Stripe-shirted smooth guy caught me watching his slick, articulate moves down the girl’s back and we immediately had a quick conversation of glances.
“Yeah… is what I’m doing doing wrong? I mean, I’m buying her drinks in the hopes to screw her. Is that wrong?”
“Ultimately, perhaps not, as this is human nature. But, she’s not that hot.”
“And kinda chunky.”
“I know… but she’s Asian and that means hot in San Francisco. I mean, if my friends catch me banging her, they won’t laugh at me like they would if she were the same 6  in the form of a white girl.”
“Your candor is admirable. No, I still don’t approve, but please proceed as I’d like to see where this goes and write about it on my very popular blog.”
It was at this point that Tom had finished my drink and delivered it with what equated to a Bronze Medal dismount from the pommel horse. I paid and gave him a dollar tip which was mostly out of pity for his haircut than feeling a need to leave a tip on a $12 cocktail by Union Square.
Of course, upon first sip, I was horribly disappointed, like when John Kerry became the Democratic nominee in 2004. I tried another sip. I tried to suck it all down and get every cent I paid for this squalid cocktail down in to my liver for future processing but it wouldn’t work. It was crap.
I placed the half-drank Pisco Sour on the bar. My Pisco Punch drinking companion who was faring as well as I was did the same and we walked out, never to return and only be reminded of it when in polite company and it became necessary to emphasize la Cantina for what it is: turd.