Letter from the Drinking Town 12 – Bahn Thai

Dear Worcester

The drink tasted of ashes. I have had many gin and tonics in this seemingly endless tour of every bar in Worcester. I have had fine ones and forgettable ones and of course there were the  poor excuses to the art of pouring booze in a glass. I have had countless gin and tonics, but this is the first one that tasted of arson.  

In this lovely looking Thai restaurant, there is a sign, made on somebody’s home ink jet printer, stating that they now have liquor. But they don’t have a bar. They have what seemed to be a horseshoe seating, but now turned into a bar to accommodate the bottles nestled on a shelf by the wall. In the center of the horse shoe you can sit and act like you have sidled up to the stick. But there is only four chairs for that part and they were taken by a few Clark students. I sat on one of the sides, so the girl working the drinks detail walked to the other side of what was basically a table and got my drink order.

I don’t know how long they had their liquor license, but she informed me that this was her first gin and tonic and that she hoped it was alright.

Let me stop here to state that I had my first gin and tonic when I was fourteen. My grandmother made it for me. Later on that summer, I was told that if I wanted a drink, I had to make my own. She tested the result for balance and potency, like every good grandmother does.  In my career as a high school drinker, which is another way of saying a poor clueless drunk kid, I had experience making many cocktails. You pour the liquor in and then you pour in whatever is supposed to go with it, We never had tonic in our rumpus room bacchanales so we made do mixing our poor gin with Sprite. These drinks were not designed for or by discerning tastes, they were to cut the liquor enough to get it down.  This is just to say that a two ingredient cocktail is something everyone should have mastered enough to not embarrass yourself when you find yourself working at a Thai restaurant on Park Avenue in Worcester.

The girl who concocted the drink was nice, and the place was nice. And everyone there on a Sunday night was nice, eating nice food.

The food was attractive, the spices permeated the whole joint. And I had a eight dollar and fifty cent glass of burnt offerings. In most cases, when a drink is this bad, I would not finish it. I tend to not complain about a bad drink, because let’s be honest, when you are having an alcoholic beverage you are drinking poison.

But I found myself deliberately and slowly taking bites off of this cocktail. Not as a connoisseur of fine high balls, but as a crime scene investigator. “How did something so simple, so elegant, go so wrong?”

I tried to place the ashen flavor. Did I get the right liquor? Was this a new Polar Soda flavor, Campfire Seltzer? Could there be something wrong with the dishwasher? Or is it me? Am I tasting things wrong, am I having a stroke?

The girl who made me the drink spent most of her time talking to two other young women at the “bar.” They were having what looked like tasty food. They spoke about college and how hard it is to pay off tuition. I sat by myself. Lost in the Puzzle of the Ashen Highball (look at me, I turned my excursion into every bar in Worcester into a forgotten Sherlock Holmes mystery.) She came over to me and asked me how the drink was. She was very pleasant. I told her it was great. Just great. Yeah. Great. Let’s call it great.

Some places shouldn’t be bars. They should just serve good food. Isn’t that hard enough? The place was handsome and the food smelled good. Shouldn’t that amazing feat be enough for anyone? Can’t we just look at how we don’t even know how to create a bar area and throw in the towel? Can’t we say, we are just not bar people. We are food people, let us celebrate that.

Bahn Thai is located at 2 Coes Square. Go there for the food and the pleasant service. When having a Pad Thai, do you really need a cocktail? Enjoy the flavor of the food. Let that be your highball.

Until Next Time



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