Tuesday, February 13, 2007

How Neil Hamburger made me drink out of my shoe



Neil Hamburger guest bartended at my beloved Cha Cha Lounge on Sunday night. Here's my tale of the evening as published by losanjealous.com:

Neil Hamburger served up drinks with his inimitable brand of humor last night as guest bartender at the Cha Cha Lounge.

Donning his signature formal tux, thick-rimmed glasses and greasy comb-over, Neil – the so-bad-that-he’s-good standup comedian persona of funnyman Gregg Turkington – approached me and my friend Nick with his curiously welcoming scowl as we took our seats at the bar. I asked for two Buttery Nipples, and Nick, who happens to be a bartender, proceeded to explain how to make the shots (butterscotch Schnapps and Bailey’s). Neil returned and sat four uneven shots in front of us. “I made a little extra,” he said. We asked if he’d like to join us in our first drink of the evening. Naturally, he accepted.

For our next round, I asked Neil for his specialty, to which he replied that he didn’t have one. Agreeing that he musn’t continue bartending until he created a drink of his own, I offered some inspiration.

“What would people have been drinking at The Flamingo in the ’70s?”

pink slipper“A Pink Slipper!”

“What’s in that?”

“I have no idea.”

I mentioned that I loved the name, as I happened to have just purchased a pair of pink slippers, which were at my home just up the street. “Go get them,” he said, “and if you drink it out of your slipper, it’s only 25 cents.” How could I argue with that?

I returned and plopped my slipper on the counter, into which Neil proceeded to pour a mixture of 99 proof banana Schnapps and club soda. The entire bar cheered as I raised the pink shoe to my lips and downed Neil’s new signature drink, The Pink Slipper. It actually wasn’t bad.

My shoe still on the countertop, Neil picks it up and sniffs it. “I didn’t know you were into that sort of thing, Neil,” I said. “I shouldn’t have done that,” he worriedly replied.

drink thisWow. Did I just embarrass Neil Hamburger?

Growing ever confident in his drink-making skills, he invented his second specialty that night, the Russian Funeral, which was basically a Black Russian with a bunch of olives. It, too, was surprisingly tasty… but then again, I suppose anything would taste good after drinking out of a shoe.

This was Neil’s third time bartending at the Cha Cha, and likely not his last. When I asked why he kept coming back, he replied, “I just can’t say no.” Fair enough.

If you want to try out a Pink Slipper or Russian Funeral, head down to the Cha Cha in a couple months. But if you just can’t wait that long to see America’s Funnyman, Neil Hamburger will perform at the Arlington Theater in Santa Barbara on Tuesday night on tour with Tenacious D. At the end of the month he’ll be doing some solo dates and will return to our fair city March 6, where he’ll perform at The Echo.

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