Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A night in the life of An American Bartender in Shanghai

On a Friday in Shanghai 
The following account is all true
Get to work, generally make sure the bar is still there and that there hasn't been any revolts or coups going on in the restaurant

Staff meal and I debate between eating the free cafateria style food that my coworkers enjoy, example, Chicken Feet and and spicy "meats" with a side of what is sure to be stomach problems for me or spending 46 RMB at Wagas for some Pasta mei yo dysentery. 

Head to Wagas which is about a block away, pass the Apple store which is always packed this time of day, as is almost everything else on Huai Hai Lu, that is of course, except for my bar

Head back to work for our daily line up with the front of house staff. Talk with my Hao Pung Yo Benny for a bit, he shows me all the cool new apps he has on his iPhone 4, I have a stupid brick phone and so have no apps. Jerk. 

Try working on some recipes, start texting some friends back in the US

9pm - 12am
The bar is busy and we are debuting some new drinks I created, the Xiao Mei Mei being a personal favorite.
I realize one of the good things about what I do is that I constantly get to make new friends, talk to interesting people and generally as long as people are enjoying themselves I can consider my job well done. 

Finish at work and change into my street clothes. It's cold out and I have sweaters and jackets and such, but no scarves, which I need to grab.
Head across the street to M2 to catch up with a couple friends at their table. It's a packed local Chinese style nightclub where bottle service is key. It's way to loud inside and even though my Shong Di Adrian tells some beautiful Chinese women that in fact, I am Ben Affleck - I get a text and keep on moving on, after that is, playing some liars dice and drinking about half a gallon of Johnnie Walker Black Label and Green tea with some local girl with big, black contacts who tells me I am so beautiful and she loves all my films. 

1:15 am
I am starving and the noodle shop across from M2 looks deceptively inviting. I head over and order my favorite, vegetable noodle soup with tofu. This is a real Chinese hole in the wall, with shared seating in a 3 tabled little place. There are little orange stools you sit on that look like they were designed for pre-schoolers. The noodle slurping crowd inside is a mix of taxi drivers, KTV girls and red flush faced night clubbers, I as always, am the only Lao Wei, I'm stared at but for 9 RMB it's worth it. I have some absinthe from my flask and being the tallest and whitest man in the room I make my exit, always leaving them wanting more. 

Take a cab to El Coctel, I know if I'm going out, out I should have at least one good cocktail in my system to wash away all the rubbish. One of the Japanese bartenders is a fan of mine, he caught some Hendrick Gin demonstration I gave a few weeks prior and has a bottle of Fernet specially on hold for me. I curse his kindness. 

2 am 
Hop in a taxi and debate whether I should call it a night or meet up with some friends at a KTV. 
Laugh at myself as I realize, no good stories start with, "well I was home reading one night"

End up somewhere in bootsy  Shanghai at a Haoledie KTV for a friends birthday. Of course they are sining Justin Beiber and being the only Lao Wei again I realize it's my duty to due the Ludacris part, which as can be expected, I nail it.  I'm getting the creeping suspicion that I'm the token white friend

3 am
We have drank a lot of whiskey and I'm feeling woozy - it's time for some Western food and nothing is better then Pizza late night

Head to Velvet lounge for Pizza but the bar is dead - I have an old fashioned and try to plot out my next move. Squinting into the phone and trying to text if anyone is still out. 

Success, I head to Mao to meet up with some girls I know. At this point I'm happy I don't need to wake up in the mornings

3:30 am
Stop in front of Mao and get some street noodles, for 5RMB per dish they are awesome, I don't know what is inside so I just point at what I want - I spend 15RMB gorging myself. 

3:40 am
Just before I walk into Mao a friend of mine at the Beaver Bar next to it waves me down, it's a Nigerian guy I know and he has a bottle of Jack Daniels that he needs some one to help him drink. I'm not a big JD fan but I help him out, for America. 

4:15 am
Run into a Taiwanese girl I know outside Mao and we head inside, I'm super amped on America and we buy a hookah and a bottle of Champagne at a booth. She practices her English as I practice not falling asleep. I snap to with a few red bulls and a some American music

6 AM
It's really time for bed, the sun is up and the birds are chirping, out on the street the former French Concession looks like someone took a bag full of party kids, shook them up and tossed them out on the road from a high altitude. There are people passed out everywhere, drunk models drinking Champagne and lost Germans singing songs about the heartland. 
There is a word for it, something to describe the polaroid of a moment but all I can think about is my bed or someone's bed, or just a bed. 

6:15 am
It's really bright and I'm finally headed home, another evening in Shanghai conquered. for a bu hao lao wei. 

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