“Hey man, where you going? We have practice in a minute!” Victor had watched his best friend staring at the clock all afternoon and then the moment the end of school bell had chimed, he had seen him running out the door faster than a Gisele.
“Not going to practice today,” Carter called not even looking back. “Have to be somewhere.” He had been waiting for this moment ever since Harvey the barman had offered to teach him mixology the night before. He had not even given missing football practice a second thought.
He ran all the way to the juice bar making it in record timing. “Hey Harvey,” he sung as he pounded through the door.
“Oh hey kid, you made it,” Harvey replied. Carter moved across the room over to him, ready to roll up his sleeves and get learning. Instead Harvey reached down under the counter and pulled out a bit of dirty white cloth. “Here put this on,” he said throwing the apron at Carter. “We have work to do.”
Carter shook out the crumbled apron and put it on over his head. “What do you think,” he asked feeling very silly.
“Looking sharp kid,” Harvey replied mocking him. “Now get to work, there are tables to clear.”
Carter did as he was told. He knew this was part of the deal with Harvey but he was still not prepared for the slave labour he had in front of him. Maybe it was because he had been spoilt all his life or maybe it was because he was embarrassed to be sporting an apron – either way clearing tables was not really what he had in mind when he missed practice today.
As the Juice Bar started to fill out, Carter moved around the room picking up stray glasses, wiping up spilt drinks and scrubbing down tables. It was exhausting work but what kept Carter going was that in a few hours, he was to have his first lesson.
Every now and again he looked up to see Harvey flipping his drinks and conversing with the customers. That’s going to be me one day, he thought to himself.
Half way through his shift, Carter was stacking freshly cleaned glassed behind the bar when he looked up to see his ex-Brooke and her followers walk into the bar.
“Oh god,” he said to himself. “This is just what I need!” He knew Brooke was the biggest snob at Bridgeport High and that she would not look too kindly on him being a glass collector, especially since she was still sour at him for dumping her.
He tried to busy himself and ignore her. He stayed behind the bar for as long as he could hoping Brook would think he was a barman, but soon Harvey tired of him and told him to get out from behind his bar and “collect some dam glasses!”
The moment he stepped out from the safety of the bar, Brook clocked him. He ducked back behind the bar laden with glasses but could see her already whispering to her friend and sniggering at him.
“Hey Carter,” she called out. He turned to look at her and so did the whole room. “LOSER,” she snarled making everyone around her roar with laughter.
Carter was mortified. He had spent years building up his reputation and in one night, it had all been ruined!
But he had come this far and refused to turn back, it was just one night after all. He kept his head down for the rest of the evening, working until his feet stung. Then when the bar shut at 9pm and he had wiped down the last table, he run behind the bar grabbing a soda and a cocktail shaker and practising a spin.
“What do you think you’re doing,” Harvey said turning around and glaring at Carter.
“Getting ready for my lesson,” he replied shaking the shaker up and down like he had seen Harvey doing all night. Soda sprayed everywhere soaking Carter but he kept on going anyway determined to prove to Harvey that he could do.
“Put the shaker down kid,” Harvey ordered and Carter did as he was told. “You’re not ready for this yet,” he continued.
“Well what can I do then?”
Harvey bent down reaching under the bar like he had done with the apron earlier in the evening.
But this time he bought out a book instead of a tatty piece of cloth and popped it into Carter’s hand. “What you do is read this first,” he told him.
Carter looked down at the book: “Mixology Volume 1,” it said in bold gold print across the front.
“Now I’m already late for my shift at The Brightmore so you gotta go kid,” Harvey said turning off the lights and heading towards the door. “See you tomorrow.”
Tomorrow, Carter thought. I have to do this all over again tomorrow!?
Over the next few weeks Carter reported to work every day after school, scrubbing tables and being Harvey’s general dog’s body.
He was so exhausted when he came home each evening that he often collapsed into bed, falling into a deep sleep fully clothed. His dreams were filled with visions of him becoming a Master Mixologist but when he awoke his aching bones bought him back to reality – he had still never even picked up a mixing spoon.
On a night off, Carter settled down to an early night digging out the book Harvey had given him weeks ago. As he flipped through the pages it was full of list after list of cocktails. Carter had never been a big reader and soon all the ingredients on the page turned into one and he started to get really frustrated.
“How is a stupid book going to make me a Master Mixologist,” he screamed hurling the book across the room and watching it crash against the wall falling to the floor.
Seconds later, Charlie came dashing into his room. “What the hell’s going on in here,” he exclaimed looking from Carter to the book lying on the floor.
“What you doing throwing books around,” he probed realising that the massive thud he had just heard had come from one his most sacred items being battered.
“I’m sorry alright,” Carter snapped back. “I’m just so frustrated Charlie. I’ve been helping Harvey out at the Juice Bar for nearly a month now and he still has not actually taught me anything! He just keeps giving me books to read!”
“There’s nothing wrong with reading books,” Charlie snapped back.
“I know mate, its just I want to learn all the tricks and stuff and instead I am being treated like a slave and not actually learning anything!”
“How do you make a Simsmopolitan,” Charlie asked an idea forming in his head.
“What does that have to do with anything,” Carter asked. “I told you Harvey hasn’t taught me anything yet.”
Charlie scooped the fallen book up off the floor and leafed through the pages. Finding the page he wanted, he cleared his throat and read, “A Simsmopolitan has cranberry juice and lime in it.”
“Oh,” Carter replied suddenly realising where his brother was going with this.
“You see brother, Harvey is teaching you. The reason why he has been giving you these books is to first learn what goes into a drink before you can make them.”
Carter got it, why had he been wasting so much time not reading!
The next afternoon, Carter bounded into the Juice Bar throwing his apron over his head and getting stuck straight into work. “You’re in a good mood,” Harvey commented noticing Carter’s chirpy demeanour.
“Yeah I am,” Carter replied. “It’s because I get it Harvey, I finally get it. I know why you have been making me read those books and you’ll be pleased to hear that I stayed up all night and finished them all.”
“Phew, I am relieved to hear that,” Harvey replied. “I was getting pretty fed up of you skulking around this joint. So – now tell me how do you make a Band Slam?”
“Orange Juice and Grenadine,” Carter shot back.
“How about a Caribbey Cooler?”
“Pineapple, banana and lemonade.”
“Great! Now I know you can’t mix booze yet but you still have to be prepared for when you can. Tell me how do you make a Flaming Flotsam?”
Carter thought hard, he had read this. He flicked through the pages of the book in his mind until it finally came to him. “White Rum, Sambuca and Ginger Ale,” he replied confidently.
Harvey’s grinned from ear to ear. “Well done kid,” he said giving him thumbs up and a cheeky wink. “I think you’re ready. We start tonight!”
Carter worked his socks off for the rest of his shift and was behind the bar waiting for his lesson at 9pm sharp. “Now make me a Band Slam,” Harvey ordered crossing his arms and standing back to observe and direct.
Carter hesitated for a while surveying the ingredients in front of him. As he went to pick up the Grenadine Harvey told him no. “The juice goes in the mixer first.” He picked up the bottle of orange juice and carefully poured the required amount into the mixer.
“Now the Grenadine,” Harvey instructed. Carter picked up the syrup measuring it into the mixer too. “Now flip the bottle,” Harvey ordered. Carter did as he was told but just as he went to catch the bottle everything went into slow motion and he could see that he was not going to make the catch.
The bottle crashed to the floor shattering everywhere and spilling the syrup all up both Harvey and Carter’s legs.
“I’m so sorry,” Carter squealed bending down to pick up the bottle fragments.
“Don’t’ worry man, we’ll sort that later. Now I want you to shake the shaker like this.” He picked up the shaker throwing it around, up and down.
Carter stood back watching the master at work. He felt like such a doofas, why couldn’t he be as cool as Harvey?
“Now you go,” Harvey said standing back again.
Carter picked up the shaker and did as he was told. The mixture sprayed everywhere but not as bad as before. At one stage the lid flew off showering Carter with drink. “Keep going,” Harvey told him. “In this business you have to be prepared to get wet.”
When it was shaken, Cater poured the concoction into a glass and handed it to Harvey for his verdict.
Harvey inspected the glass and then bought it to his mouth sipping the cocktail. Within a second of it touching his lips, Harvey’s face compressed and he spewed out the brew.
“Errr! YUK,” he screamed spitting out the remaining liquid into the sink. “Sorry mate but that was one sour drink.”
Carter felt crestfallen. He had failed! He waited for Harvey to throw him out.
“Now do it again,” Harvey demanded rinsing his mouth out with some water.
Carter brightened up and set back to work, he was going to impress his mentor if it was the last thing he did!