As has been my custom — and my ultimate fallback when I have nothing else to say and am on deadline — I sometimes like to go through some of my Style Weekly reader mail to answer questions from the people. While most of my mail is generally of the hate and bodily-harm threat variety, some of you more intelligent types actually want my opinion from time to time — because 28-year-old bartenders obviously are the people to turn to for life advice (and when you're new in town and looking to score a drug dealer's contact info).
P.S. I'm still waiting on a lonely dowager to send along her undergarments and a blank check. You know you've "touched someone" when you end up in the possession of her underwear and her late husband's riches.
To the mailbag!
Jack, Sometimes I just want to drink alone at a bar, away from the same old crowds. How do I enjoy the experience without people thinking I'm depressed or creepy?
I drink alone, all by myself, with nobody else — frequently. It gives me a chance to minimize the daily clutter that builds in my mind, if only for an hour or so. The inherent flaw regarding your question is that you're at a bar where you don't know anyone — so why do you give a damn about what anyone in the bar thinks?
That said, I understand the trepidation that comes with walking into a random bar and sitting by yourself while everyone else is chatting with other people. It's uncomfortable — it feels like you're under a spotlight. But once you've done it enough, you tend to realize that you aren't the only one experiencing the soul-crushing loneliness that comes with a life full of ups and downs but mostly downs — a life that ultimately has been a disappointment, an utter failure of vast proportions — and that no one's looking at you, you self-centered egomaniac.
I'm being dramatic, but you get my point.
Just bring a book if you must and start drinking. After seven drinks, you won't care about anyone or anything. Trust me, that's why Jesus invented bars.
Jack, I need a cool summer drink to order. A drink that impresses the ladies and says, "I'm classy and worldly, yet still here to party." Any suggestions?
Sometimes when I'm trying to be sophisticated (admittedly, this is rare) and sip on something other than bourbon or scotch, I like to order a margarita. The trick is to not say "margarita," because you'll get some sour mix infused mess that will make you look about as worldly as a University of Richmond frat boy fresh off the boat from New Jersey. Simply say that you'd like a rocks glass with silver tequila (a good one — Don Julio Blanco is my joint), ice, some Cointreau and five or six lime wedges squeezed in. Forget the salt. The bartender should be able to handle this request. Easy, delicious, not overly girly. You're welcome.
Oh, and don't ever order a frozen drink. I don't care if you're on a secluded beach somewhere just north of the equator. The only thing a frozen drink does is freeze up a woman's undergarments, which is counterproductive to your goals.
Jack, I know tipping questions have been asked to death, but are there any new gratuity trends?
Yes actually, I'm glad you asked. A new Virginia law states that if you don't do it then the bartender now may legally use a tap handle to crush your trachea like a walnut. Now I don't agree with most of the asinine laws those backwoods pig rapists are passing in the Virginia state legislature these days, but this one seems reasonable.
This last one isn't reader mail, but was asked of me while I was bartending the other night: If our state legislators can't even acknowledge that gays are equal and also feel that women forced into pre-abortion ultrasound penetration is somehow an OK thing — is there any hope that Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control will EVER see the light and make the necessary changes to transition from a slow-moving, antiquated bureaucratic cluster fuck to something that doesn't resemble a giant anti-capitalist, ham-fisted Gestapo?
I'm just joking. No one asked me that. I wrote that question. And the answer is NO.
Have a question for Richmond bartender Jack Lauterback? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Lauterback also serves as co-host of 103.7-FM's "River Mornings with Melissa and Jack," weekdays from 6-9 a.m. On Twitter @Jackgoesforth.