One of the finest drinks out there is the Martini. I’m not talking about the modern version, ordered by the sleek and hip in clubs and bars out there, which is nothing but a triple shot of very cold vodka; I’m talking about a proper Martini, with enough Vermouth to provide, you know, flavor. But sometimes that Martini’s just too harsh, and you want something a little fruity — not too sweet, just a little fruity. That’s the L’il Bit.
I just made the L’il Bit up one evening, principally to make something tasty for the AIG out of the spare remains of our well-used liquor cabinet. It worked great, so I named it after the AIG’s rapper name. Now I end up making it for her almost every weekend!
The L’il Bit is an easy cocktail to make and to sip. Mix with ice in a shaker:
* 2 1/4 oz. Gin (I use Seagram’s for this, you could probably taste a fancy gin but stay away from those with more vegetal or floral taste profiles, like my otherwise-favorite Hendrick’s)
* 1 oz. Dry Vermouth. Don’t fear the Vermouth! Use it with abandon even in your Martini.
* 1/2 oz. Triple Sec. This liqueur, in any drink, will smooth out the flavor
* 1/4 oz. Cointreau (just a drop!)
* 3 dashes orange bitters (I’ve used Fee’s, which are sweeter than some others, and you’d like that sweetness here)
Pour into a chilled martini glass. If you’d like a garnish, try some frozen Gummi Bears, they’ll melt slowly and have a great flavor when you’re done. Enjoy!
fn1. There’s probably some other cocktail that matches the recipe here; in fact, what I’ve made resembles the “Martinez”:http://www.artofdrink.com/2007/08/martinez-cocktail.php — the progenitor of the Martini — and the “Opal Cocktail”:http://www.cocktailtimes.com/gin/opalcocktail.shtml. But I couldn’t trivially find a recipe online, so I’m calling it mine!
fn2. It’s not her rapper name in any particular way, just it got thrown out there and somehow stuck.
I should’ve known when I missed the first turn to the “Marshall Alumni Holiday Reception”:https://mymarshall.usc.edu/mems/user/registerEvent.jsp?activity=getEventById&eventId=1053 and my next four chances to turn around were blocked off by LAPD auto and bike officers that things did not look good. But I drove around the northern half of Downtown and finally managed to get headed in the right direction to park and head into the event.
In retrospect, it would’ve been better to head home and get the AIG the “Red Mango”:http://www.redmangousa.com/ she wanted. But, like any proper MBA, the allure of networking was irresistible. So I dragged the AIG in, promising her a cocktail of her choice.
I had actually gone to this thing last year. And it was great! There were 3-400 Marshall alums, of varying ages, at the “Jonathan Club”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Club, enjoying passed hot hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar, and great networking options. This year: not so much.
It wasn’t the venue, which was “beautiful”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Angeles_Athletic_Club. It might’ve been the crowd, which was small — under 100 when I got there, which was about 8pm in an event lasting from 6 to 10 (even worse, when I got there, virtually everyone was paired off having a conversation, and the pair is the most stable and closed group out there). It might’ve been the cold appetizers they offered, which were tuna sandwiches. It might’ve even been the lack of vermouth at the cash bar.
But most likely it was the band. Most of us — me, that is, and you, my loyal readers — would not choose to book a band for a networking event in which everyone wants to, you know, talk. One of the dim bulbs that seem to populate this year’s Alumni Association had booked a four-piece rock-and-roll-type band to perform some hot uptempo songs. You know like the always hip “4 Non Blondes”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXcQGsoDkDk. Then it got better: some “Brandi Carlile”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xq-ZmAYLeB8. Something we think might’ve been “Grant Lee Buffalo”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILpq6LDrUWQ. Because what you need at a networking event is depressing music. And it was a good 10 of these in a row — at one point I was practically expecting the band to treat us to some “Low”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmo7tyrtGW0.
Not only did this band bring us down, but they were a force of nature. The lead singer’s power and range — and at least she had some excuse to try to sing some Brandi Carlile — steadily forced the crowd out of the main ballroom and into the cramped, pillar-filled anteroom. The masses apparently were prepared to trade elbow room for the ability to carry out a conversation at some level below a yell.
Anyway, we finally abandoned the networking event. For her trouble, the AIG got “Gaby’s”:http://www.gabysmediterranean.com/def/main.aspx for dinner on the way home, and she also got to tease me about how the program she got her Master’s from at USC — and it’s not a whole school, like Marshall, it’s just a program — had a much better party earlier this year. So much better. I guess we should outsource!
fn1. There was a cash bar this year too — they must know something about how Trojans drink
fn2. I have no idea how the bartender managed to make the AIG such a delicious dirty martini, except perhaps by making it surpassingly diry.
fn3. I would not be so judgemental, except that three nice ladies who clearly had some role in planning and running the event were sitting exceedingly listlessly at the check-in table, encouraging no banter, small talk, energy, or even promptness in check-in. They didn’t even try to upsell us on the USC-UCLA game tickets they were silent auctioning off, which might’ve been a mistake since they’d left the sign-up sheet out and I could see they only had one bid, which was not only low but rather less silent than I might’ve expected.
fn4. The fact that this video was made non-ironically makes it truly, truly priceless.
fn5. Could’ve used “something more upbeat”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3riAMRswyM maybe?
fn6. Running out of tuna sandwiches may have had something to do with this too, depending on your opinion of fish and onion at networking events.
fn7. Although, I will give the band credit, their volume level did give me the excuse to leave the ballroom when I found myself talking to someone who smelled like the weight room at a gym. The entire weight room. In use.
“Wagville”:http://wagville.com is a Los Angeles doggie boarding and day care facility founded and run by Harvard grad and former lawyer “Julie Shine”:http://www.linkedin.com/ppl/webprofile?id=18152133. Like the other WMB subjects, Wagville isn’t making enough money. We quickly learn that:
* The company does little to no retail business, despite having a large (and cluttered) storefront
* Check-in takes minutes on a slow system
* There are no facilities for people, just for the dogs
* Employees are unmotivated and ill-tempered
* Julie cannot motivate staff and may be a micromanager
* There are 27 employees in a business that’s caring for no more than 60 dogs at any time, and the costs add up – in one month, Wagville did $90,000 in sales but had $65,000 in payroll and so couldn’t make a profit
* Julie is focused on providing a service to dogs, not on making profit
* Julie is carrying crushing credit card debt in order to keep the place running