Have you already guessed today’s movie?? If you’re going with Coyote Ugly, then you are exactly right! If you haven’t seen it, the first thing we need to discuss is how that’s even possible. Released in theaters back in August of 2000 with Maria Bello, Piper Perabo, and John Goodman in the lead roles, Coyote Ugly went on to gross over 100 million dollars worldwide. It’s a wild and fun romp that tells the story of Violet Stanford (Piper Perabo), a singer from New Jersey who wants to make it big in New York City. After multiple rejections from the music industry, she ends up working for Lil (Maria Bello) in a crazy singles bar called Coyote Ugly, where the bartenders dance on top of the bar, customers regularly get buckets of ice thrown on them, and occasionally the bar actually gets set on fire. Are these fine and safe bar practices?? I’m laughing out loud. And to think my biggest issues are with free pouring, as opposed to measuring, and using anything other than fresh juices!
The fact of the matter is that Coyote Ugly is based on the bar of the same name that opened in New York City in January of 1993. Liliana Lovell had worked in a number of bars where she did indeed climb on top of them and sing and dance. When she had the opportunity to open her own place, her thought process was quite simple: beautiful girls + booze = lots of money. The original Coyote Ugly was a huge success, and Lovell went on to apply this same formula to multiple locations throughout the world. The movie helped to boost her fame and fortune even more. Is the Coyote Ugly on 1st Avenue between 9th and 10th streets as out of control as the movie version? Not exactly. I have actually been there. What I find to be so interesting is that beyond all the craziness, there is one solid bar management principle going on here: bartenders need to know their customers and how to best sell their drinks. When I worked behind the bar at Cooper River Distillers (and believe me I did not spend anytime on top of it) part of my job was selling cocktails, not just making them.
Coyote Ugly was panned by critics for a number of reasons, most especially that it does not really have a plausible plot line. Violet has stage fright and is having difficulty performing her music as a result, yet she’s able to sing and gyrate on top of a bar in front of a packed house. Despite this fact, I’ve always found it to be lots of fun, and it’s one of the movies that my daughter Wendy and I love to watch together. As a bonus, it has an awesome soundtrack! Since I’m currently so involved with making proper drinks, it was a bit harder for me not to cringe at what’s going on behind (and on top of) the bar, particularly since I can’t even tolerate when the napkin under the drink gets wet, but I closed my eyes when I needed to. Today’s cocktail was a challenge for sure. I couldn’t create anything too fancy and it definitely needed to be very boozy. Since today marks the official start of Negroni week, my mind wandered in that direction. When I looked at the NYC Coyote Ugly website the first thing I saw was a Jäger bomb. I knew I could work with that. I decided to make an equal parts cocktail that was a riff on a Negroni using Bluecoat Barrel Rested gin, Bonal Gentiane Quina, and Fernet Branca. The Fernet would be the craft bartender’s step up from Jägermeister, since it has that same boozy, bitter, woodsy, black licorice, menthol thing going on. This cocktail is indeed boozy and bitter, but it’s countered by the sweetness of the Bonal, which I often substitute for sweet vermouth, and the softness of the barrel rested gin. It’s a slow sipper for sure, and not necessarily something you’d order as a shot, but it’s certainly not served with water, and it’s definitely not the margarita that Lil laughs about in the movie. And I had the perfect glass! Where there are coyotes, there has to be a roadrunner. Right?? Cheers everyone! Happy Monday and Happy Negroni Week!
We Don’t Serve Water Here
Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass and stir with ice until very cold. Strain into an old-fashioned glass over one large cube. Garnish with a grapefruit peel. Enjoy!