Noted writer, mixologist, raconteur, and scoundrel Lorin Partridge discusses life on both sides of the wood.
A martini given to me by an old Argentinian, delivered with the solemnity of an alchemist tutoring his apprentice. It was a traditional martini, made with Bombay Sapphire, dry vermouth, ice perfumed with bitters and three drops olive juice. I took one sip and fell head over heels for the drink. He told me that in an ideal situation there is always two olives—and you can only eat one. The other is for your lady.
How much, how often:
Daily. I can’t recall a day in the last five years, when I haven’t had at least 5 cocktails before 9pm.
How much is enough:
I’ve come to appreciate the blackout. You learn a lot about yourself when you’re on autopilot. When the pieces slowly come together the following day, it is usually an uplifting story. Also, I’ve never woken up next to anyone I wouldn’t fuck sober.
Original Joe’s in San Jose, CA. The bar has all the qualities a good joint should have. It’s like something out of a movie. It’s dark, has a fireplace, and the bartenders possess character, which is something you can’t teach. There’s also a sign above the entrance that says, “It’s better to live rich than to die rich.”
The mark of a good bartender:
One who has lead in his wristwatch and knows that everyone—including regulars— should get what they pay for.
The mark of a bad bartender:
Some insipid floozy who was hired on the basis of her fake tits, rather then a serious interest in getting people fucked up.
Your bartending philosophy:
I adhere to the underground economy. I don’t accept tips from other bartenders or friends. The intention is always apparent, and that is enough.
Best bartending story:
I was bartending at the Cactus Club in San Jose. A regular named Casper came in and he had the shakes real bad. I knew he was broke, so I floated him a Long Island. Once he started to even out, he looked up and said, “ Lorin, you’ve been facilitating my addiction.” He then pulled out a cap gun and unloaded it at me. I kinda freaked out for a minute, then I became pissed off that I didn’t think of it first. So now when I’m behind the bar I keep a loaded cap gun.
Why we must drink:
A sober man on an afternoon stroll scarcely notices the tree in front of him. A drunk man not only notices the tree, but says “I’m going to climb that motherfucker and carve it into a naked lady!” Alcohol sets loose primal instincts. Sometimes they should be subdued for the sake of gentility. Nevertheless, the beast must run.
My last birthday. My younger brother had to carry me back to my apartment. I had 16 cocktails, and 12 shots (according to him). The next day I woke up with a rock in my hand that I had apparently snatched from someone’s front yard that I fell into. I had autographed it with a sharpie.
Dream bender team:
Jack London, Jackie Gleason, Brian Campbell and Boyd Rice. I’d thank Jack London for inspiring me to spend two weeks in Death Valley with nothing but a knife and a flashlight. I’d thank Jackie Gleason for the Manhattan he just bought me. I would toast Brian Campbell, because he’s the last cowboy on earth. Then I would call Boyd the next day to figure out how I had gotten home.
Five years ago the devil and I sat down at the same table and after a long conversation, we decided we would be better friends if there was a bottle of gin between us. You can take that literally or figuratively.
–Interview by Luke Schmaltz