Logan R. Brouse, proprietor and mixologist of Logan’s Punch and Tacolicious, has run bars and clubs in Shanghai for over ten years. In between hangovers, he puts pen to paper in his column for That’s to record his pontifications on the drink industry.
Wow, as I sit here and type this article tucked away in a taco truck in sunny Jing’an, I can’t help but realize I’m getting old. Ten years in Shanghai, almost 40 years on this earth. And all I have to show is some dirty jokes and a mean Jeff Goldblum impression.
So, I was thinking – over several large drinks – about what would make an interesting article. We’ve talked about cocktail histories, we’ve talked about fun or crazy adventures. But what do bartenders do in their free time?
For me, it’s video games, it’s reading, it’s pathetic attempts at pretending I’m going to the gym (haha –joke’s on you healthy body). Also, I’ve been listening to a lot of Jimmy Buffet. As I turn 40 on September 19, I found his song, ‘A Pirate Looks at 40,’ really resonating with me.
And I have been drunk now for over two weeks
I passed out and I rallied and I sprung a few leaks
But I got stop wishing, got to go fishing, down to rock bottom again
Just a few friends, just a few friends
So, what is it that my ‘just a few friends’ do for their off time? I spoke to Dede Liu, the floor manager from Atelier, and she replied that she mostly sleeps, which wasn’t the most exciting subject matter for an article, so I started to dig further. Where do the teddy bears go on their picnics?
A work/life balance is such an important concept to get right. I can honestly say that when I was working in nightclubs, I would finish my shift, go out with my friends till 10am and then sleep till the next shift started. It’s no healthy way to live, but it is an amazing way to drive yourself insane with a night that never ends.
Now, having several F&B outlets it’s hard to make that balance actually... balance. For Chase Williams of one of Shanghai’s most fun F&B bars, it’s fishing at a little place in Hongqiao Park. But even for Williams the work never stops, as his phone is always with him and customers are calling for reservations or – in the case of this incredibly handsome and intrepid reporter – last minute WeChat querries.
For Saira Shahzad from Tacolicous and BYFO, her time off is spent either at the Maya pool or trying to go to the gym as she chases an endless summer. For Karen Chung at J. Borowski it’s practicing puppetry at the Shanghai School for the Blind. And for Dawn Cianci, a bartender of great renown, it is practicing her slam pottery at open clay nights in Found 158.
For Elysia Bagley, who bartends over at Lucky Mart and writes for Drink Magazine, she says being in the media and bar industry means work is her life:
“I definitely have trouble achieving work-life balance and doing things for myself, as I have difficulty disconnecting. To be honest, these days I often find that when I’m not working, I just want to be at home spending time with [husband] Kyle and my adorable pets. I am pretty into Animal Crossing on Nintendo Switch right now, and I also like game night with friends where we make dinner, play Settlers of Catan and have lots of drinks and snacks.
“Other than that I’d say the usual stuff: brunch or drinks with friends; occasional picnics at the dog park; I sometimes cook, bake or experiment with cocktail recipes. I’ve tried in the past to pick up something like knitting, but I’m more of an instant gratification kind of person, and that shit takes too long.”
Whatever it is that is a hobby, work, it seems, like life in Jurassic Park, finds a way. With that said, as I struggle with my own work-life balance, I present to you this extremely cool cocktail that I read about in the PDT cocktail book. It’s called a cinema highball, and thankfully, it’s amazing.
Cinema Highball Recipe
Make the popcorn-infused rum: In a large container, combine the popcorn with the rum and set aside for 1 hour. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a container with a tight-fitting lid. Stir in the clarified butter, cover and set aside at room temperature for 24 hours. Transfer the container to the freezer and freeze until the fat solidifies on the surface (about 4 hours). Strain through a fine-mesh strainer and store at room temperature until ready to use. Use within 2 weeks.
Make the cocktail: In an ice-filled Collins glass, combine the popcorn-infused rum and the Coca-Cola, stir and serve.
Mother, mother ocean, after all the years I've found
My occupational hazard being my occupation's just not around
See more of Logan’s columns here.