It’s happy hour, yay! This means 50ml of liquid- or shall we say precisely, three sips of what I can only imagine is liquid gold- is now only £6 instead of £12, BARGAIN!
Ordering a cocktail isn’t just a simple action, it’s a process, an event. The girls have been planning this wonder for weeks. We scan over the extravagant menu, pretending like we’re gonna order something totally off-piste. “What you having babe?”, “I dunno, what you having?”, “I dunno, what you gonna have?”, “I dunno babe”. The pressure builds as the fear of fucking up starts to sink in. I can’t afford to make the wrong choice. I’m paying for these cocktails by the hour! It’s a toss up between the trusty pinã colada or something more luxurious, something that involves egg-white and half a herb rack. Nothing is really tickling my fancy. Shame, I’d heard this was the place to be. As are all cocktail bars that garnish their drinks so heavily I can only assume they employ a gardener. The six-page menu of potions and new concoctions- which I’m sure no-one, not even the most alcoholic of your friends, can understand (I mean come on, Demerara? Malic Acid? Celery and Plum shrub? I just want a drink not a bloody prescription) – is cast aside, and the trusted ‘favourites’ list is given the one-over. “I think I’ll just get a mojito babe”. The first battle is over. But there’s a war ahead.
“I’ll go up and get these”, I’ve volunteered as tribute. A task that seemed so small at the initial offering, but as I approach the dimly lit and overly crowded bar I wish I hadn’t been so noble. The next battle is to pick your spot at the bar. Make no mistakes, you have to use your tactics and past experience to make an informed decision: 1) Stay away from the end of the bar- the days of being served first here are over, 2) Aim for Male bar staff- this is the one and only time gender inequality most definitely works in our favour, 3) Don’t que behind a group of girls, they will be as annoying as you and order loads of fancy cocktails followed by a round of shots which will all be captured on snapchat, and Instagram, and Facebook live and 4) most definitely avoid standing by any stag-do’s or Football teams. Sorry boys, but we really don’t want to hear you all chanting about Jimmy’s Mums’ boobs.
Locked in and loaded. My spot is secure. I wait patiently, desperate not to give off the please serve me first vibe, whilst desperately wanting to be served first. The barman asks who’s next and I point to the stranger standing beside me; being an honest customer is going to earn me some brownie points surely? But that hope of justice soon fades away when that girl pushes in from the back and bellows her order over the counter. And of course, she’s ordering enough for a small village. So I wait, and I wait, and I wait a little more. And then finally, after two cat naps, and twelve Instagram uploads later, my time has come.
“Three mojitos please”. Such a simple order, I think to myself. He grabs the cocktail mixer and attempts to flip it about. He drops it, naturally. Ahhh, I love wasting time. Each glass is filled individually with ice, a process which has become a strong debate amongst my friends who believe ice dilutes the alcohol. I’ve been standing here long enough to here Craig David, Little Mix and Jason Derulo on a loop at least three times. Why is he stirring a glass of ice? Oh God, Where is he going now? Please just get me a drink. Then, I start to notice all the things around me. So many different types of glasses (Why did I not order whatever comes in that really long glass?). SO many different gins. How am I supposed to know the difference. How does anyone know the difference. Do we really need violet colour gin? I guess it looks fun. Talking about looking fun, is that candy floss in that jar?! Where the fuck do they order that in from? And their snacks, what a random snack selection. Who’s eating wasabi peas at 11pm? Mmm, I wish I could eat those pork scratchings in public. I wonder how many hands have been in that peanuts jar. Is it really true that they pour the leftover nuts back in? Oh Good, he’s coming back. Oh, no. Nope. He’s gone over to the garden. The garden where he’s cutting and he’s primping and he’s picking the perfect plant to accompany my beverage that I most definitely won’t appreciate. My standards start to slip, as does my consciousness. I don’t care about foliage anymore, just give me a damn drink. I wonder how much fun the girls are having without me? What are they talking about? Are they talking about me? I need them to repeat every conversation they’ve had in this last 18 minutes whilst I’ve been away on this service of sacrifice to my fellow women. Oh ffs, Why did we not just order a wine? Men have it sOoOo easy, a bottle of beer takes 0.05 seconds to serve. CAN’T THEY SEE THE HARDSHIPS US WOMEN HAVE TO GO THROUGH JUST TO GET A DRINK OUT HERE.
Oh finally, he’s back. He adds some fruit that I’m most definitely going to snack on later despite it being manhandled by several people, and Voila! Three mojitos. “That’ll be £36 please” What? Sorry I thought cocktails were £6? “Happy hour is over now sorry love”. Oh for fuck sakes. I make my way thru the crowds of stumbling people who seem to have become excessively more drunk in my absence. YAAAAAAY GIIIIIIRLS I’VE GOT THE DRINKSSSSS! My welcome home isn’t met with quite the victory parade as I’d have hoped. “Oh hi! Meet Joe and Dan, they brought us all shots! Sorry we drank yours while we were waiting for you, what took you so long?” Double fuck sake. I sit sipping my iced water, savouring each mouthful which takes me to about eight minutes later. “So, what cocktail we having next babes?!”