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September 8, 2008

Sweet Tea

Filed under: Celebrity,Philosophy,Spirits — Mr. Henry @ 3:46 pm

Straight from the airport on her very first visit to New York City, framed by Maxfield Parrish’s panoramic Old King Cole, Kenzie took her seat in the Astor Court restaurant of the St. Regis Hotel.


At twelve years old she was the youngest lady present. Accordingly the waiter first approached her to take, with great ceremony, her drink order. Flummoxed at being caught suddenly in the spotlight, she hesitated and then responded in an endearing southern accent, “I’ll just have sweet tea.”
Her fifteen-year old sister, also dressed immaculately, could not restrain her indignation. “Oh! I can’t believe you! They don’t have sweet tea here. That’s a southern thing.”

“But,” said Kenzie plaintively, “I just w-wanted sweet tea.”

Mr. Henry couldn’t resist calling her “sweet tea” for the remainder of the weekend. Could you?

What can you do when a restaurant isn’t serving your standard? Do you allow yourself to be buffaloed by the wait staff? With sixty-five years more restaurant experience than Kenzie, Nana stands her ground. She takes her tea brewed, iced and unsweetened. Whether or not it’s on the lunch menu, brewed unsweetened iced tea is what she’s having. With the nicest of smiles she entreats the waiter to brew it specially, ”if it’s not too much trouble.”

Experienced waiters quickly accede to Nana. They spot right away that she is the kind of client who won’t hesitate to send a dish back to the kitchen….several times. Don’t let her sunny demeanor fool you. Nana is not intimidated by big city restaurants.

When Mr. Henry orders a dry martini and receives one made with vodka in lieu of gin, he resists upbraiding the hapless server or upending the cocktail tray. Instead, he seizes the moment as a teaching opportunity. After all, few enjoy the benefits of his good fortune and education. Mr. Henry appreciates that some bartenders lack the advantages of proper instruction in mixed drinks, but he maintains faith in his fellow barman. He refuses to believe anyone would willfully pour cheap vodka when tradition calls for fine gin.

Clearly more should be done in bartender education, and in the next administration, if candidates are to be believed, more WILL be done. Surely both parties can agree to make this a policy priority.


Unlike some martini drinkers, it seems, Mr. Henry can taste the difference between vodka and gin. A simple sniff is sufficient. For those of you who cannot, Mr. Henry advises choosing your drinking establishment exclusively by price.

The more difficult aspect of the waiter/patron interaction is standing your ground. Be polite but firm. You should receive what you ordered, not something nearly almost like what you ordered.


  1. I’m with Nana, that is exactly how I drink my tea!

    Comment by Glinda — September 16, 2008 @ 2:12 pm

  2. Your Nana I expect to get what she wants; the thing is, did KENZIE get her sweet tea?

    Comment by La BellaDonna — September 16, 2008 @ 5:22 pm

  3. Yes, Kenzie got a peach tea she thoroughly enjoyed.

    Comment by Mr. Henry — September 16, 2008 @ 7:21 pm

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